Professor Gerald Pillay was the Vice-Chancellor & Rector of Liverpool Hope University. As Chief Executive Officer of the University he was responsible to University Council for the organisation, direction and management of the University and leadership of the staff.
Born in the former British colony of Natal in South Africa where he grew up under apartheid. He holds dual citizenship of the UK and New Zealand.
Gerald earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Rhodes University and a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Durban. After lecturing at the University of Durban-Westville, he became Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of South Africa, in Pretoria, in 1988. He is widely published as part of a distinguished academic career, examining such topics as the relationship between the church and state, the complex interplay between theology and human sciences, as well as seeking to understand how religion can both move with the times yet still stay grounded in tradition and history.
In 1997 he became Foundation Professor and Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Otago University, New Zealand’s oldest University, based in Dunedin. In 1998, he was asked to serve as the first Head of Liberal Arts within that University. He has served in senior leadership roles in South Africa, New Zealand, the USA, and England.
Appointed Rector of Liverpool Hope University College in 2003, he became Liverpool Hope University’s first Vice-Chancellor in 2005 when the institution was given full University status.
Recognition and Contributions
In 2009, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Merseyside, assisting the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside in carrying out his role as the Queen’s representative on Merseyside.
In 2018 his contribution to education was celebrated in a collection of essays entitled ‘Internationalising Higher Education: From South Africa to England via New Zealand’, edited by Professors Hoffie Hofmeyr and John Stenhouse.
In 2021 he appeared in the Queens’s Birthday Honours list when he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for ‘services to Higher Education’, accepting the Honour ‘on behalf of the entire Hope community who have been so supportive’.