James Lusty, 1951-2008

February 14, 2008

When it is finished, the £50 million city-centre campus in Newport will serve as a tribute to the drive and vision of James Lusty, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport.

Professor Lusty, who has died at the age of 56, oversaw the transition of the former University College of Wales, Newport to full university status, placing it at the heart of efforts to regenerate an area of the principality that was strongly affected by the decline of heavy industry.

His former colleague and deputy, Peter Noyes, the university's current vice-chancellor, said that Professor Lusty saw the institution as part of the wider community.

"He had a vision for higher education in the region and worked extremely hard to deliver that vision in his period. If you look at evidence for that, he was the conceptual architect behind the city-centre campus. James was passionate both about the region and its regeneration."

Dr Noyes also paid tribute to his former colleague's character. "Integrity is always the word used to describe him. He was honest, straightforward and a joy to work for. You could legitimately question the position he was taking and reach a consensus very quickly.

"He was a chemist by profession and he had that grasp of complex issues. One of the things we always teased him about was that his structure diagrams reminded us of the periodic table. He was very shy and didn't like performing in public, but that didn't stop him from doing so. And through sheer grit, determination and extensive preparation, he was always very eloquent."

Professor Lusty graduated from Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, with a first-class honours degree in chemistry, followed by a PhD in inorganic chemistry. His first academic post was at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dharan in Saudi Arabia, which he took up in 1978.

He then took up a post at the National University of Singapore, subsequently returning to the UK to a temporary post at Keele University, and then to full lectureship at what is now The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

He became head of chemistry at the University of Central Lancashire in 1987, progressing to dean of inter-faculty studies and pro vice-chancellor. In this role he was responsible for learning, teaching and research and the university's regional strategy. He was awarded a professorial title in 1991 and he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

His friend Tony Payne, professor of politics at the University of Sheffield, said: "James was a natural leader, possessed of enormous energy, great determination and astute judgment."

tariq.tahir@tsleducation.com.

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