Dundee University has announced the death of Professor Michael Hamlin CBE, FREng, FRSE who was principal and vice-chancellor from 1987 to 1994.
Professor Hamlin came to Dundee with a wealth of experience in the academic world having been vice-principal and pro vice-chancellor of Birmingham University.
He arrived at a time when Dundee University was a smaller institution than now and when there were significant challenges in finance and government funding.
By the time he stood down as principal, the university was in a much stronger position and he was able to say the `dark days of the 1980s’ were over.
Announcing the news with “great sadness” in a message to staff and students on Friday, Dr Jim McGeorge, university secretary and chief operating officer, said: “Perhaps his most notable achievement was saving the Dental School from closure, a huge morale boost which set the university on course for expansion and growth as it reached its 25th anniversary in 1992.
“The proposal from the main government funding body of the time had targeted the dental school for closure, even after a large-scale public campaign against the move. Professor Hamlin worked tirelessly to challenge the closure and ultimately the decision turned in Dundee’s favour.
“This helped change perceptions of the university, was followed by increased funding and ultimately greatly helped shape the institution we know today.”
Over his tenure Professor Hamlin generally helped place Dundee University on a much more secure footing and encouraged the growth of the institution, which would see significant expansion in areas such as Life Sciences and the Medical School, where he supported the creation of the Ninewells Cancer Campaign.
He played a significant role in strengthening the Students’ Association, working in tandem with the students.
He was warmly regarded on campus, with the student magazine of the time referring to him as `the Pleasant Principal’.
He also worked to create a much stronger bond between the university and the city of Dundee, where there had previously been a rather strained “town and gown” relationship.
In his own academic career, Professor Hamlin was a world-renowned expert in water engineering.
He was born in South Africa in 1930. His wife Augusta, who along with Michael helped transform the university’s art collections and museum services, died in 2018.
The university offered “sincere condolences” to Professor Hamlin’s family.
They plan to hold a memorial service for Professor Hamlin when circumstances allow, so that staff may commemorate his life and “extraordinary contribution” to the university.