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Green Templeton College | Oxford

watson introIt is with immense sadness that Green Templeton College announces the death of its Principal, Professor Sir David Watson, who passed away on Sunday 8 February after a short illness.

Sir David took office as the second Principal of GTC in October 2010, joining the College from the Institute of Education, University of London, where he was Professor of Higher Education Management from 2005 to 2010. Previously, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton (1990-2005), and Dean and Deputy Director of Oxford Polytechnic (1981-90).

He was an energetic 'hands-on' head of house who was involved in every aspect of College life. He demonstrated outstanding dedication in his leadership of the College's dynamic, influential and friendly community of students, fellows and staff, which focuses on understanding the issues of managing human welfare in the modern world.

His legacy to Green Templeton is enormous.

He oversaw the development of the GTC Advanced Studies Centre - alongside Vice Principal Professor Ingrid Lunt - which opened in early 2014 and now provides enhanced study and learning spaces, including a new Library, for its postgraduate students. He also helped to get a much-needed new Gym built on the main College site, which he formally opened in November 2014.

GTC's lively academic life is due in no small part to his enthusiasm and personal support over the last four and a half years, in particular for the various academic initiatives such as the Oxford Health Experiences Institute (HEXI), the Management in Medicine Programme (MiM), and the Emerging Markets Symposium (EMS) in which he was actively involved. One of his last formal duties as Principal, despite his illness, was to make the welcome speech at the 2015 EMS on ageing last January.

As well as the academic life of the College, he was a huge supporter of its cultural and social life, as was his wife Betty Pinto Skolnick. A keen musician and talented pianist, he and Betty hosted regular informal music evenings in the Lodgings for amateur GTC musicians. He also contributed to the development of a programme of music recitals and concerts for the College social calendar.

His love of the arts brought a number of cultural events into the College, including the 2013 light installation 'Brighter Later' by artist Susan Collins which saw the Radcliffe Observatory illuminated as part of Oxford annual Light Night celebrations.

Sir David read History at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a Choral Exhibitioner and Open Scholar. He was a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded his doctorate in intellectual history in 1975.

His academic interests were in the history of ideas and in higher education policy and he contributed widely to developments in UK higher education, including as a member of the Council for National Academic Awards (1977-1993), the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council (1988-92), and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (1992-96).

He was a member of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation's National Commission on Education (whose report Learning to Succeed was published in 1993), and the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education chaired by Sir Ron Dearing (whose report Higher Education in the Learning Society was published in 1997). He also chaired the national Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning, and co-authored its report Learning Through Life (2009).

He was the elected chair of the Universities Association for Continuing Education between 1994 and 1998, chaired the Longer Term Strategy Group of Universities UK between 1999 and 2005, and was President of the Society for Research into Higher Education between 2005 and 2012. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2008 and the Times Higher Education Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Sir David was knighted in 1998 for services to higher education.

His many publications include Margaret Fuller: an American romantic (1988), Developing professional education (with Hazel Bines, 1992), Managing the university curriculum (with Jean Bocock, 1994), Lifelong learning and the university (with Richard Taylor, 1998), Managing Strategy (2000), New Directions in Professional Higher Education (with Tim Katz and Tom Bourner, 2000), Higher education and the lifecourse (with Maria Slowey, 2003), Managing Civic and Community Engagement (2007), The Dearing Report: ten years on (edited with Michael Amoah, 2007), The Question of Morale (2009), The Engaged University (with Robert Hollister, Susan Stroud and Elizabeth Babcock, 2011), Learning Transitions in Higher Education (with David Scott, Gwyneth Hughes, Penny-Jane Burke, Carol Evans, and Catherine Walter, 2013), The Question of Conscience: higher education and personal responsibility (2013), as well as over 400 articles, chapters in books, and reviews.

Sincere condolences go to his wife Betty, his children Michael and Sarah, and his granddaughter Lila.

Sir David's funeral will be a private affair for family and close friends. A celebration of his life will take place in Oxford later this year.

He will be greatly missed by all members of Green Templeton College and his friends and colleagues in Oxford.


Read the Times Higher Education announcement

Read the WONKHE obituary

Read the Conversation tribute

Read colleagues' tributes in Times Higher Education

Read the University of Brighton tribute

Read the Institute of Education, University of London tribute

Read the Oxford Brookes University tribute

Read the Clare College Cambridge tribute