Obituary: Professor Sir Graham Hills

Scott McNee

Tributes have been made in remembrance of Professor Sir Graham Hills, the former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, who passed away last month at the age of 87.

Hills’ tenure as Principal ran from 1980-1991, during which he was noted as a supporter of student diversity, encouraging the enrolment of minority, female and mature students.

His time also marked an increased focus in computer and technology related education, and extensive funding towards the sciences.

The current Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, led the tributes, saying: “Sir Graham influenced very positively the careers of many Strathclyders and I benefited personally from his advice and support.”

“He also attracted many gifted academics here who, in turn, helped build our University’s capability and reputation.”

Hills had a reputation as a forward thinker, and himself referred to his hobby of “rocking the boat”, an approach which sometimes courted controversy.

Famously writing to the Glasgow Herald, Hills’ support for student vouchers and bursaries provoked widespread debate in the academic community, and cemented his popularity among disadvantaged students.

He summed up his approach to education in one dismissal: “From the beginning, I resented the tendency to devote attention to those who least needed it.”

Knighted in 1988, Hills went on from Strathclyde to conduct a study into the possibilities of Universities for the Highlands and Islands, and was named Honorary President of the University’s Development Trust.

In 2002, he was awarded a Fellowship of the UHI Millennium Institute, one of the first two recipients of the honour.

Sir Graham Hills’ influence on the University of Strathclyde  is honoured by a building bearing  his name on campus.if (document.currentScript) {