Tony Newton, Lord President of the Privy Council, is considering whether he has the power to launch an inquiry into David Regan's suicide and "related matters" at Nottingham University.
Mr Newton, as the visitor's representative, was contacted after the university's court voted by 104 to 51 not to commission its own independent inquiry. "I am confident that any member of the university may ask for an inquiry," said John Griffith, an emeritus professor at the London School of Economics and friend of the Regan family, who wrote to Mr Newton to ask whether Mr Newton has the authority to set up an inquiry.
A statement calling for an inquiry was issued by eight signatories including two former Nottingham vice chancellors, Lords Butterfield and Dainton.
Professor Regan, who died on July 25 last year, left several letters critical of the university and was known to feel victimised for being asked to vacate his house on campus. His widow, Dorothy Regan, said she had a mission to publicise her husband's concerns about university governance.
"I know I am never going to heave a sigh of relief until someone at a very high level looks at the governing arrangements of universities," said Mrs Regan.
"David was saying things have gone very wrong at Nottingham and generally at British universities. They have got too centralised and he made it clear that vice chancellors have too much power."
University spokesman Philip Dalling said the university had rejected calls for an inquiry, but Mrs Regan was welcome to discuss the issues with university officers.