Biography of Sir Joseph Chamberlain
Chamberlain's rectorial installation address
Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), was Rector of the University from 1896 to 1899.
Chamberlain was born in London but was sent to Birmingham in 1854 to manage his family's business interests there. He became involved in local politics and in 1873 was elected Mayor of the city, commencing a programme of civic improvements and enterprises that inspired what became known as municipal socialism in other cities of the United Kingdom and the USA. He entered Parliament in 1876 as a radical Liberal and held various government offices, including those of President of the Board of Trade and Colonial Secretary. One of his sons was the future rector of the University, Austen Chamberlain.
In 1886 Chamberlain joined the Liberal Unionists after a schism in the Liberal Party, and he was nominated for the University Rector's position in 1896 by the Conservative Club. His unsuccessful opponent was the lawyer and MP Augustine Birrell.