Sir Crispin Tickell (1930-2022)

Crispin Tickell standing by fireplace with red wallpaper behind dressed in suit and tieIt is with sadness that the college learned of the death of Honorary Fellow Sir Crispin Tickell on Tuesday 25 January. Crispin was Warden of then-Green College from 1990 to 1997.

As Warden he led the creation of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding, with the aim of establishing a forum where the political, environmental, scientific, industrial, business, financial and media worlds could meet the academic world. He raised funding in this area, including for a visiting scholarship in environmental matters spearheaded with Joanna Lumley. The centre led work on climate change and discussion about the importance of the reorientation of society to help cope with its impacts. It was subsequently moved first to the Department for Environmental Change, and then ultimately to the Oxford Martin School.

His wide-ranging writing and public speaking as Warden significantly increased awareness of Green College with new communities in its second full decade. At midsummer in 1995, he unveiled the noon-mark sundial in the Lankester Quad, the first of Martin Jennings’s several commissions for the college. His biography of 19th century palaeontologist Mary Anning of Lyme Regis was launched from college in 1996.

During his tenure, the first link was established between the college and Reuters and the Reuters Fellowship. Green Templeton is today proud to be the home of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, engaging newsroom leaders from around the world and exploring the future of global journalism, and to have a rotating group of journalist fellows as members of the college.

After he stood down as Warden, Crispin continued his association with Green, and subsequently Green Templeton, College as an Honorary Fellow and supporter. He took part in a series of presentations celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of Green College in 2019.

Before joining Green College, Crispin had a long and distinguished diplomatic career culminated as British Ambassador to the United Nations and Permanent Representative on the UN Security Council from 1987 to 1990.

Crispin was a leading international authority on climate change and environmental issues, and the author of and contributor to many publications. He was best-known for his environmentalism and engagement with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, including prior to her world-famous speech to the Royal Society in 1988, when she spoke about global warming well ahead of most leaders.

While in the Foreign Office, he also served in Mexico, including as Ambassador, in the Netherlands, Paris, and as chef de cabinet (on secondment) to Roy Jenkins as President of the European Commission. He received numerous honorary degrees and was Chancellor of the University of Kent from 1996 to 2006.

Our thoughts are with Crispin’s wife and Radcliffe Common Room Member Lady Penelope Tickell, his children, family and friends at this time.

Please let Gillian Cane know if you would like to pass messages or tributes.

Crispin Tickell Official Portrait in pencil on paper

Green College portrait in pencil on paper by Bryan Organ (1997)

Read and hear more about Crispin

Obituary in The Times

‘On retiring from the diplomatic service in 1990 he became warden of Green College, Oxford, devoted to medicine and science, meeting his wish to join an institution with an exciting future rather than a distinguished past.’ Read more

Obituary in The Telegraph

‘Tickell became Warden of Green College, Oxford (1990-97), where he established the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding (now the Policy Foresight Programme at the James [Oxford] Martin School).’ Read more

Radio interview

Listen to an expansive conversation with Crispin on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 1990 immediately prior to becoming Warden at then-Green College.

Created: 31 January 2022