The Speaker of the House of Commons the Rt Hon John Bercow MP admitted he “jumped for joy” when he found out a Regius Professorship was being given to the University of Essex and it was being presented to Professor David Sanders from the Department of Government.
Mr Bercow, an Essex alumnus, told a packed audience at the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall it was an “absolute privilege” to be invited to chair a panel following Professor Sanders’ Regius Professorship Lecture, with the panel featuring Professor Anthony King, the Rt Hon the Baroness Williams of Crosby and Professor Dame Helen Wallace.
Mr Bercow paid tribute to all the outstanding academics in the Department of Government at Essex and praised Professor Sanders’s "decades of commitment" to the field of political science.
Mr Bercow said: “David taught me 25 years ago. He was a brilliant and inspirational teacher - always keen to engage and ever ready to encourage. I regard it to be a privilege to continue to know him.
“When I heard a Regius Professorship was coming to Essex and David was to receive it, I can remember exactly where I was standing in my study in Parliament and I literally jumped for joy. I was absolutely thrilled as there could not be anyone more deserving.”
The honour of a Regius Professorship was conferred on the University by Her Majesty The Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee and recognises 50 years of excellence in research and education in politics at Essex. One of the youngest universities ever to receive this accolade, Essex was also one of just two UK universities to receive Regius Professorships in social science.
Professor Sanders has been a key figure in the achievements of Essex’s Department of Government, which has topped the UK politics rankings for the quality of its research in every national research assessment in the last 25 years.
During his lecture Professor Sanders delivered a detailed analysis of Britain’s attitude towards Europe and the European Union (EU) since 1945, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the cases presented by both those who support the EU and those who want to pull out.
He also outlined the political risks of the Prime Minister David Cameron calling a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
More about Professor Sanders
After studying at Essex as a postgraduate student, Professor Sanders started teaching politics at the University in 1975. He is author of numerous influential books and articles on UK politics, including Lawmaking and Cooperation in International Politics, 1986 and Losing an Empire, Finding a Role, 1990. He co-authored Political Choice in Britain, 2004, Performance Politics and the British Voter, 2009, Affluence, Austerity and Electoral Change in Britain, 2013 and The Political Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Britain, 2013.
He also co-edited the top UK political science journal, the British Journal of Political Science, between 1990 and 2008.
Professor Sanders is a Fellow of the British Academy and received a Special Recognition Award from the Political Studies Association in 2012 for his commitment to outstanding research which has shaped public understanding of politics. From 2000-2012 he was a Principal Investigator for the British Election Study, which is conducted at every General Election to study electoral behaviour and how elections contribute to the operation of our democracy. This prestigious study was based at Essex from 1974 to 1983, and from 2000 to 2012.