Former Strathclyde Principal Professor Sir John Arbuthnott dies

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott (left) in 1992 with then Strathclyde Chancellor Lord Tombs (right) and honorary graduate Jan Krysinski

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, has died at the age of 83. 

Sir John was Strathclyde’s third Principal, leading the University from 1991 to 2000. This was a period of considerable expansion for Strathclyde, during which the former Jordanhill College of Education merged with the University to become its Faculty of Education in 1993. It also saw the the introduction of devolution and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. 

In addition to presiding over Strathclyde, Sir John was responsible for two major policy reviews in the early years of devolution. He chaired an independent review of resource allocation to NHS authorities, to reflect the social, economic and demographic circumstances of each area, and he led a commission which assessed Scotland’s varying electoral systems and constituency boundaries following devolution. He subsequently became Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

Sir John was elected President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a post he held from 2011 to 2014. A significant innovation during his term was the establishment of the RSE’s Young Academy, which promotes and nurtures emerging talent across all academic disciplines. 

In his own discipline of microbiology, Sir John was a highly respected authority and this is recognised in the building on the University’s campus which is named after him and is home to the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. He was knighted in 1998 for services to education. 

Strathclyde Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “John was very influential in my career as a supportive Principal and mentor. He appointed me to the Rolls-Royce Chair in February 1993 and gave me significant support thereafter. 

John leaves a rich legacy to education and to public life; he was a truly well accomplished academic and contributor to society at large.