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Remembering Professor Sir David Watson

  • 4 January 2016

This guest blog has been contributed by Mrs Sam Davies, Director of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, at the University of Brighton.

David was a long-standing and faithful friend of HEPI’s and we are pleased to be able to publicise this welcome initiative.

David’s last two publications for HEPI can be found here and here.  

February 8th 2016 will mark a year since the passing of Professor Sir David Watson.  Following his death, tributes were paid from across the higher education sector, both in the UK and overseas.

David was one of the UK’s leading academics and at the time of his death, he was principal of Green Templeton College.

Prior to this, David was professor of higher education at the University of Oxford and also led the University of Brighton to gaining university status in 1992, continuing as vice-chancellor for another 13 years until 2005.

He was a member of the Dearing review of higher education in the 1990s and professor of higher education at the Institute of Education (now part of University College London) between 2005 and 2010.

As a prolific and influential higher education commentator, he was knighted in 1998 for his services to the sector.

In memory of Sir David, the University of Brighton has launched an international awards scheme to recognise achievements by community and university partners working together to build a ‘healthier, just, and sustainable community’.

The scheme will accept nominations for the work of community-university partnerships from anywhere in the world and is testament to Sir David’s leadership in community-university engagement and social responsibility in higher education.

The awards will be supported by an international group of networks and leaders in the field, including the Talloires Network, a global network of community-engaged universities that Sir David helped to build and lead, and Professors Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, the UNESCO co-chairs for Community Based Research.

The awards were formally launched at the inaugural Professor Sir David Watson memorial lecture which took place at the University of Brighton on 19th October 2015.  We were delighted with how the evening went and the warmth of feeling in the room – clearly David touched the lives of many of us and it felt very appropriate to bring together people who share a fondness and overwhelming respect for David as a person, as a colleague and as a visionary leader.  The lecture was recorded and can be viewed online here:

Since the memorial lecture, over £6,000 has been raised towards the fund and the committee is now looking to generate additional funds to help sustain these awards for many years into the future.

We want to ask individuals and organisations from across the world who feel strongly about the significance and value of community-university engagement to consider making financial contributions to the fund and we plan to make the first awards in 2016.

All donations received in this first year will be equally split between the endowment and the pot available to make the awards. One innovative aspect of these awards is the opportunity for all donors to vote for who they believe should receive the award each year – all donors will be sent details about the nominations shortlisted and invited to vote for the nomination considered to be the most deserving.

Donations in support of the Professor Sir David Watson Awards for community-university partnerships can be made to the University of Brighton in a number of ways: online via our Just Giving page (, via bank transfer (UK and overseas accounts), payroll giving, charity accounts, cheques or cards.  Further details about giving and how to support can be obtained from Mrs Sam Davies (Director of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement) by emailing [email protected].



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