This would never happen in a US university

The University of Cambridge is so quirky – I love it. In October, Cambridge will choose a new Chancellor of the University, to replace HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband), who has held the post since 1976.

The insider candidate is Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who was Chairman of a large British grocery story chain – wait for it – Sainsbury’s. This is where it gets silly. Any 50 Senate members can nominate candidates, and the Senate includes not only faculty, but almost anyone with a graduate degree from Cambridge. Believe it or not, I get to vote.

Lord Sainsbury faces competition, which now includes a well-known local grocer from Mill Road, Cambridge, Mr. Abdul Arain. I lived around the corner from his shop and can attest to his fine selection and friendly service. His prime reason for running for Chancellor of an institution with more than eight centuries of history? To oppose a new Sainsbury’s grocery store near Mill Road.

The two other nominees are Michael Mansfield, described as a republican, socialist, vegetarian, radical lawyer and British actor Brian Blessed, well known to all Black Adder fans .

This isn’t an election to sit out, but you have to vote in person, at the Senate House, in a gown (any black gown will do, “full academical dress” is not required, according to the FAQs). So medieval.

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