A LEADING figure at one of York’s universities is retiring after more than 40 years in higher education.

Professor David Maughan Brown, 68, is retiring this week as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of York St John University which he joined in 2002 as deputy to the principal.

He has been a key driver of the university’s internationalisation policy and building its strong international profile and recruitment.

His retirement has been timed to follow the November deadline for submissions to the Research Excellence Framework, which will determine universities’ research funding for six years. He has been responsible for overseeing York St John’s submission, as he was in 2008 which saw a 500 per cent increase in the university’s funding for research.

Professor David Fleming, Vice Chancellor, said: “David has helped to steer the university through the many changes that have transformed it into the excellent learning and working environment it is today.

"I thank him hugely for his dedication to making the university such an open and forward-thinking higher education establishment that embraces difference and challenges prejudice. His legacy will live on for many years to come.”

Born in Cape Town, Professor Maughan Brown was brought up in East Africa and educated in South Africa and at the Universities of Cambridge and Sussex.

He spent more than 30 years in higher education in South Africa with 21 years at the University of Natal under apartheid, followed by 11 as its senior deputy vice chancellor negotiating the university’s transformation under postapartheid democracy.

His experience shaped his perception of what good universities should be about, and he recently told a public lecture that during talks about higher education, universities needed to act collectively in challenging Government policy, asserting their wider purposes and resisting the idea that their sole function is to “oil the cogs of economic development”.

On his retirement, he said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the university and being part of what is an enormously supportive, interesting and dedicated community which the students are at the heart of.

“York St John is a very special place to work. I am confident that the current leadership will continue to navigate the choppy political waters successfully, ensure a high-quality student experience and continue its commitment to provide excellent and widely accessible educational opportunities.”