Renowned actor John Hurt has vowed to make Norwich University College of the Arts the “envy of the most illustrious institutions” after he was named its first ever provost.

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The former art student, who is still a keen painter, will become the ceremonial figurehead for the Norwich site this autumn when he is formally installed.

As NUCA’s provost, he will preside over the university college’s graduation ceremonies and act as its ambassador to represent and promote its role as a specialist in art, design and media education.

On accepting the post, Mr Hurt said he hoped to help the Norwich-based campus take its place on a worldwide stage.

He said: “I hope that, together with Professor John Last and his brilliant team, I will be able to help make NUCA an arts university second-to-none and the envy of the most illustrious institutions not just in this country but worldwide.

“This may sound a boastful ambition but I believe, from what I have already seen of the work and felt of the atmosphere, that it is eminently possible. What greater privilege and honour could I have been offered and I will do my best to help achieve this ambition.”

Prof John Last, NUCA’s principal, said a formal inauguration for Mr Hurt would take place in the autumn and the new provost would preside over his first graduation ceremonies in 2013.

He added: “The appointment of our first provost reflects the maturity of the institution, which was founded in 1845 and granted degree awarding powers in 2007. We are delighted that John has accepted the role where his achievements and standing in the world of the arts will be an inspiration for the next generation of creative practitioners.

“His own experience of studying art at Grimsby Art School and then St Martins, and his illustrious career in the world of film for more than 40 years, give John a unique perspective and understanding of the creative work at the head of the university college.”

Mr Hurt is best known for his acting roles in films including Elephant Man, Midnight Express and, more recently, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy. He also played Mr Ollivander, the wand maker, in the Harry Potter series of films.

The 72-year-old lives on the north Norfolk coast, close to Cromer, and has recently agreed to join a panel of experts judging the Holt Festival Art Prize.

He has had starring roles in more than 150 films and has won both BAFTA and Golden Globe awards as well as being nominated for Oscars for his performances in The Elephant Man and Midnight Express.

This year he was presented with the BAFTA for outstanding contribution to cinema, marking his 50th year in the film industry.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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