THE former vice-chancellor of University of Sunderland, Shirley Atkinson, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Mrs Atkinson, from Hexham, spent 10 years at the university, six as deputy vice-chancellor and four as vice-chancellor and chief executive before leaving in the summer last year.

During her time in office, she made Sunderland the UK’s leading institution in widening access. She provided leadership to the Sunderland cultural agenda bringing many city venues under university control to maximise public access to the arts.