Trevor Easingwood was instrumental in Derbyshire College of Higher Education becoming the University of Derby - the only college of higher education to achieve university status at the same time as the former polytechnics in 1992. He died of cancer aged 71 in December.
Professor Easingwood, who was at the institution for 21 years, pioneered the development of Derbyshire's first academic degrees in the early 1980s, paving the way for its reinvention as the University of Derby.
He was born in 1936 in Hull and read mathematics at the University of Manchester, where he gained a first-class honours degree and a masters.
In 1970, he entered the Derby and District College of Technology as head of the maths department, but he quickly progressed to dean of the faculty for science.
There he became heavily involved in planning for the college's future, developing degrees in geology, geography and biology. They were the college's first awards to be approved by the Council for National Academic Awards, which was then the degree-awarding authority for non-university institutions.
"It was a very exciting period," recalled Mike Greenwood, assistant dean and head of the university's School of Science, who started as a young lecturer under Professor Easingwood.
"For the first time we were becoming responsible for our own academic courses, and Trevor gave us the guidance, support and confidence to go ahead and do that. He exuded that high level of confidence and compassion that is a little bit lacking in today's cut and thrust," observed Dr Greenwood.
The College of Technology was merged with its sister College of Art to create the Derbyshire College of Higher Education in 1983. Professor Easingwood was appointed as one of its deputy directors and was among those who strove in the early 1990s to meet the criteria to merit university status. He retired in 1992 as the college became a university, but he remained an ambassador for the institution until his death.
"Trevor was genuinely pleased to see that it had grown to such a level and become respected in so many aspects," Dr Greenwood said of the "cool, calm and collected gentleman".
Professor Easingwood, who was also a respected national figure in maths teaching, was awarded an honorary professorship for his outstanding contribution to academic leadership at the University of Derby's first awards ceremony in 1993 - a fitting tribute for a man who gave so much to the institution's evolution.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.