Tony Dewberry, 1950-2010

February 4, 2010

A recently retired deputy vice-chancellor at Bath Spa University, who was responsible for tailoring its historic campuses to the needs of a modern university, has died.

Tony Dewberry was born in London on 28 June 1950 and educated at Kingston Polytechnic and the University of London.

He trained as an architect, then began his career at Gerald Shenstone and Partners in Bloomsbury in 1974, before moving to Wandsworth Borough Council in 1976.

This was followed by a major switch of track when Mr Dewberry joined what is now Bath Spa University (then Bath College of Higher Education) as corporation secretary and clerk to the board of governors in 1989.

Since this marked the moment when the institution ceased to be part of local government and became a separate legal entity, he was instrumental in establishing its rules of governance and working practices.

He was appointed assistant director in 1995 and deputy vice-chancellor in 2005.

A crucial part of his role was the estates management of the Newton Park and Sion Hill campuses. The former is set in parkland designed by Capability Brown in the 18th century and leased from the Duchy of Cornwall. It incorporates woods, a lake, a 14th-century castle tower and castle gateway (both scheduled ancient monuments), a Georgian manor house and a purpose-built concert hall, the Michael Tippett Centre.

It was Mr Dewberry's task to adapt this environment to the requirements of a modern university, while maintaining its remarkable architectural heritage.

Frank Morgan, vice-chancellor of Bath Spa, said: "When we took over the main site at Newton Park in 1989 it was pretty shabby and run-down.

"Tony embarked on a major refurbishment scheme, and attracted specific grants for landscape and building to ensure no money was lost to teaching.

"On the beautifully landscaped estate, he renovated the Greek statuary and the orangery in collaboration with the landlords of the Duchy of Cornwall, with whom he fashioned a very strong professional relationship.

"He fitted up the castle gatehouse with the wiring and high-tech equipment required for what is now a creative writing centre.

"He seemed to have an almost magical ability to be in several places at once, as committed to hands-on day-to-day management as to lofty strategic objectives."

When he was forced to retire due to ill health towards the end of 2009, Mr Dewberry was made an honorary fellow of the university.

He died of cancer on 9 January and is survived by his wife Sue and two daughters.

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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