Seymour Roworth-Stokes, 1965-2016

An acclaimed designer who became an academic leader has died

July 28, 2016
Obituary: Seymour Roworth-Stokes, 1965-2016

Seymour Roworth-Stokes was born on 17 October 1965 and educated at Harris School in Rugby and Rugby College of Art (1982-84) before securing a BA in industrial and product design at what is now Ravensbourne (1984-87).

He then embarked on a successful career as a designer at Loncraine Broxton & Partners (1987-88) and Butler Isherwood and Bartlett Design Consultants (1998-99), and as a design product director of T3 Design Consultants (1989-91).

It was at this point that Professor Roworth-Stokes switched to an academic track, initially as a lecturer at the West Surrey College of Art and Design (1991-99). He moved on to the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, as principal lecturer (1999-2001) and then head of research and development (2001-05). In parallel with this, he studied for a PhD at the University of Brighton on “Intrapreneurship and the management of research centre growth in university art and design departments (1999-2003).

From 2003 to 2012, Professor Roworth-Stokes worked at the University of the Creative Arts as pro vice-chancellor (research and development) and then briefly as executive dean, where he was responsible for academic management, business engagement and internationalisation strategy at an institution with nearly 1,000 staff and 7,500 students. He also took on for more than a decade the position of chair of the worldwide Design Research Society.

While at UCA, Professor Roworth-Stokes led a consortium of southeast England universities, bringing together leading researchers and young people to create artwork for the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village for London 2012, a project that won the PODIUM Gold award for best cultural and creative project of the Games.

In 2012, Professor Roworth-Stokes took over as executive dean and professor of design at the Coventry School of Art and Design, where he oversaw a £22 million budget and 2,500 students, while also serving on the leadership team of Coventry University.

Shaun Hides, deputy dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Coventry, recalled him as someone who was “always honourable, decent, thoughtful and kind”, and “led numerous policy initiatives concerned with the social, cultural and economic contribution of the arts and humanities”.

Passionate about his work (and Coventry City Football Club), he was “also passionately committed to his active lifestyle – his badminton, which he played at county level; his football, where his intensity resulted in some fair-weather five-a-siders in the faculty discovering a sudden interest in reading; and his walking”.

Professor Roworth-Stokes died after a period of illness on 1 July and is survived by his wife, Lin, and daughter, Ailsa.

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