Obituary - Chris Marlin

September 25, 2014

A pro vice-chancellor who forged a new international dimension for the University of Sussex has died.

Chris Marlin was born in Adelaide, Australia on 19 May 1952 and studied at the University of Adelaide both as an undergraduate and PhD student, one of the first in the burgeoning field of computer science.

He started his career as an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Iowa in 1980, but returned to Australia in 1984. Although he initially worked at the University of Adelaide, he later moved across town to Flinders University as professor of computer science before going on to serve as pro vice-chancellor (research) from 1998 to 2004 and then deputy vice-chancellor (research) from 2004 to 2009.

While at Flinders, Professor Marlin focused his research efforts on creating user-friendly design environments for programmers. He was often asked to provide consultancy help both to government departments and major corporations such as the telecommunications giant, Motorola.

He also developed a range of international collaborative projects and acted as a mentor to a number of Chinese university vice-presidents. Such a background provided him with essential experience when he moved continents again in 2009 to take up the new position of pro vice-chancellor international at Sussex.

One of the key goals was to raise the number of international students. In this, Professor Marlin proved highly successful and drove an increase of 111 per cent, from 1,473 in 2009-10 to 3,103 in 2013-14. In order to achieve this, he played a key role in creating and overseeing a range of new international scholarships.

Yet his commitment to the international cause went far beyond this, said Marcus Williams, director of student recruitment. Professor Marlin “led a sea change in internationalisation at Sussex”, since “he recognised that it needed to be embedded in every aspect of a university’s work”, he said. One sign of this was the new International Partnership Development Fund designed to support staff exchange and research collaborations with leading universities in Asia and the US.

A great believer in embedding ideals of internationalism into the student experience, Professor Marlin supported the growth of electives in non-European languages within the curriculum as well as a 17 per cent hike since 2010 in the number of domestic students who opted for study abroad.

Known to friends as a man of great warmth and ­adventurous spirit, Professor Marlin liked nothing better than embarking on long hiking and photographic expeditions in the countryside. He died on 2 Septembeafter a short illness and is survived by his wife Deborah and two daughters.


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