OBITUARY: Keith Morgan

Born: December 14, 1929.

Died: May 6, 2012.

Funeral: Lancaster, Lancashire, UK, May 18, 2012.

IN the University of Newcastle community he was known as ‘‘the great conciliator and communicator’’.

He held the post of Vice-Chancellor from 1987 until 1993 and during his tenure presided over a time of great expansion for the fledgling campus.

Professor Keith Morgan died in the United Kingdom on May 6. After a battle with cancer he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

He was 82.

Born in the UK on December 14, 1929, Professor Morgan was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Brasenose College, Oxford University.

Throughout his career, his research interest covered a wide range of topics in the field of chemistry including vibrational spectroscopy, solvent effects and heterocyclic ring formation. He attracted substantial support from funding bodies and co-authored 47 papers in learned journals before he arrived in Australia.

Professor Morgan worked as a senior research fellow in the Ministry of Supply and then at the University of Birmingham before taking a lecturing position in the university’s department of chemistry.

In 1964, he began a long and esteemed career at the University of Lancaster.

Appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, he later became senior lecturer and then held a personal Chair in Chemistry from 1968.

He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lancaster from 1973 to 1978, and Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor until 1986.

Australia beckoned in 1986 and Professor Morgan left Lancaster with his wife to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle.

He succeeded Professor Don George after he retired and was initially appointed for a five-year period with the possibility of a renewal.

The position was advertised world-wide and Professor Morgan beat out 19 other applicants from Australia, including inside the university, and abroad.

His knowledge and grasp of Australian higher education issues, including amalgamations, was considered remarkable in someone from overseas.

From his first Senate meeting, he sought to establish a clearer strategic vision for the university. He is credited with encouraging a more focused university, and presided over a time of great expansion.

Perhaps most importantly, he shepherded the university through the final, and controversial, process of amalgamation with the Newcastle College of Advanced Education in 1989.

Under Professor Morgan’s leadership, the Central Coast campus at Ourimbah also opened its doors in temporary accommodation in 1989. And in that year, Professor Morgan – a passionate supporter of the arts, with music and theatre among his great pleasures – was instrumental in overseeing the amalgamation of the University of Newcastle with the Hunter Institute of Higher Education and the Conservatorium of Music.

Three years later Professor Morgan achieved a long-held ambition of the university in opening the Newcastle Law School. Remembered as a Vice-Chancellor with strong vision and foresight, Professor Morgan was a great supporter of students, going out of his way to meet with and listen to students and look for solutions to the challenges they faced.

His respect and admiration for the Hunter region was evident through his involvement in numerous organisations and the visions he held for the region.

An Englishman to the core, he created a Vice-Chancellor’s XI cricket team that would play against English teams visiting Newcastle.

Upon his retirement, Professor Morgan spoke of the future of the burgeoning city of Newcastle as a regional capital but warned of the need for long-term development strategies rather than instant fixes.

An esteemed researcher in chemistry, he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Newcastle in 1993. Professor Morgan returned to the university every year since his departure to visit former colleagues and friends.

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