Emeritus Professor Sir Gordon Higginson, DL, PhD, DSc, LLD, DEng, FREng

We are very sorry to let colleagues know of the death, on 5 November 2011, of Emeritus Professor Sir Gordon Higginson, graduate and honorary graduate of the University, and a former member of staff.

Sir Gordon Higginson was a pupil at Leeds Grammar School between 1938 and 1947.  He then entered the University to read Mechanical Engineering, graduating with First Class Honours in 1950. Awarded a University Scholarship on the strength of his degree performance, he completed his PhD before joining the Ministry of Supply in a research capacity.  His scientific prowess earned him rapid advancement in the Civil Service but he returned to Leeds as a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1956. After six very successful years in the Department, during which he was jointly responsible for the seminal work elucidating the mechanism of lubrication of rolling element bearings and gears, he left Leeds to become Associate Professor at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. In 1965, he was appointed Professor of Engineering at the University of Durham.  In 1985, he was made Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, where he remained until his retirement in 1994. He was knighted in 1992.

Sir Gordon commanded considerable respect within the engineering profession and beyond. He served on the Engineering Council, and as chairman of the UGC Technology Sub-Committee and of the Engineering Board of the Science and Engineering Research Council. The wider public service which he rendered included chairing a committee set up to advise on the reform of the A-level system.  Published in 1988, the committee's report won much praise within the education community but was rather less well received by the then government. In the mid-1990s, he was responsible, through his chairmanship of the Further Education Funding Council's Learning and Technology Committee, for a report which was influential in determining the framework for the development of information and learning technology within the FE sector.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, both academic and in public service, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon Sir Gordon by the University in 1994.

Sir Gordon's wife, Marjorie, pre-deceased him. He is survived by three sons and two daughters, and by a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at 12 noon on Monday, 21 November 2011, at Highfield Church, Highfield Lane, Southampton, followed by committal at Southampton Crematorium.

In memory of Sir Gordon, the flag will be flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building on 21 November.

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