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Green Templeton College | Oxford

Sir John Hanson

It is with great sadness that Green Templeton College has learned of the death of Sir John Hanson, Warden of Green College 1998-2006, who passed away on 13 January at the age of 78 after a short period of ill health. He will be greatly missed by all members of the Green Templeton community.

Sir John became the fourth Warden of Green College in 1998 after a long career in the British public service, culminating in his appointment as Director-General of the British Council 1992-8 where he led a major reform programme for management change throughout the British Council.

After graduating from Wadham College, Sir John joined the War Office in 1961 as a fast stream Assistant Principal. He moved to the British Council in 1963 and made his career in the fields of cultural relations, international affairs, and development aid. His early career concentrated on India and the Middle East. From 1968–72 he extended British Council work throughout the Gulf at a time of important change in Britain's foreign policy relations in the area. His postings at Council headquarters in London included the Education and Science Division, and four years as Director of Finance.

From 1975–9, he led the Council's operations in Iran. In 1983 he spent a year at the Royal College of Defence Studies working on foreign policy analysis before heading the British Council mission in India as Minister for Cultural Affairs at the High Commission in New Delhi.

Professor Michael Earl, Dean of Templeton College 2002-08, got to know his fellow Head of House in the lead up to the merger of the two colleges: “It was when we were exploring the possibility of a merger of Green College and Templeton College that I really got to know John. In short he was sociable, enthusiastic, humorous and insightful and (this is a compliment) happy to pronounce on many things. We discovered that as children we had lived three miles from each other and it seems such a shame that we did not know each other then. It was always a delight to bump into him.” This is a sentiment expressed by many Fellows, some of whom enjoyed dinner with Sir John shortly before Christmas.

John Pearn, Honorary Visiting Fellow, expressed his gratitude on behalf of those “who have been privileged to be associated, Sir John was such a good friend to so many of us; and we recall his gracious hospitality and welcome at the College on so many occasions. I know I speak for all Australians in sending sympathy to all the extended Green Templeton family. Esteem to his memory.”

Principal Denise Lievesley has fond memories of her meetings with Sir John: “John will be sorely missed by staff, students and fellows of Green Templeton College. He was such a kind and gentle person who cared a great deal for the community. I was very grateful to him for his support and advice since I joined the College a year and a term ago. His sense of fun enlivened every discussion”.

A Commemoration service will take place at 2.30pm on Thursday 9 February at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.