Rosemary Pope, the University of Bournemouth's pro vice-chancellor for education, died suddenly on 20 March.
Professor Pope, who held a PhD in psychology, was a professor of education with a professional background in nursing and a key member of the strategic team at Bournemouth. She led the academic development of education at the university, which meant investing in new academic areas, as well as extensive staff restructuring and voluntary and compulsory redundancies.
While at Bournemouth, which she joined in June 2006, she was involved in other restructuring activities including that of the international recruitment process, management structures of schools and the university's partnerships and widening access schemes.
Prior to joining Bournemouth, Professor Pope was at the University of Surrey, where she was director of the Centre for Research in Nursing and Midwifery Studies, which she founded. She leaves a wealth of research into midwifery practice and education. Most recently she co-authored a paper, published in Evidence Based Midwifery last December, on women's views of student midwives' involvement in maternity care.
Pam Smith, who took over from Professor Pope as the centre's director and who was a close friend, said: "I had known her since 1998. She was a wonderful person. Not only was she witty and funny with an enormous intellect, but she also had huge compassion ... She was unique in her ability to spot people's potential and help them achieve it."
Professor Pope helped a senior tutor who lacked a conventional academic background to become a reader, her colleague recalled. "She was very forward-thinking in her belief that one's life experience can be as valuable as formal learning." She supported the clinical lecturer post at Surrey, Professor Smith said, as a way of recognising clinical experience.
"Even when work demands were at their biggest she would remember who you were as a person, and that's a great tribute - she was a shining light and she will shine on through the people she supported," Professor Smith said.
Bournemouth vice-chancellor Paul Curran said: "I am deeply shocked and saddened by Rosemary's sudden death, which is a tremendous loss to us all. Rosemary made an enormous and lasting contribution to the educational ethos and leadership of our university and will be greatly missed by her many friends and colleagues.
"This tragic loss will, I know, be felt deeply by all who had the pleasure to know her. Personally, I will miss her unqualified devotion to Bournemouth and all of us will miss her boundless enthusiasm, her unwavering focus on our students and, of course, that ready laugh. Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and many friends."