HAVING just returned to work in Glasgow on the Commonwealth Games, I learned with sadness of the death of Sir Graham Hills, the former Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde University (Herald Obituary, February 14).

He was much more than the media portrayal he sometimes received as Margaret Thatcher's favourite academic and his time in Glasgow had many positive aspects. One of the things he strongly supported was the widest possible access to higher education for students from all backgrounds, including encouraging mature students who had not followed a traditional path to university. He also had a vision to enhance the quality of the Strathclyde campus and attract more students to Glasgow.

He did have some radical ideas and, whilst not always in agreement with them as a student at Strathclyde in the late 1980s, what impressed me was that he did not duck the argument and was always willing to engage in direct debate on the future of education in the Students Union, leading to some lively encounters with his own students. I recall he had real passion about the need to prepare to change for the opportunities of the future, for example with his advocacy for a technologically connected University of the Highlands and Islands, which he went on to help create.

Having been away for many years it was encouraging to walk around the current Strathclyde campus the other evening and see that change for the future continues apace, with the impressive Technology and Innovation Centre under construction.

I also noted a bright banner, where I remember the Rottenrow Maternity Hospital used to be, celebrating Strathclyde as Entrepreneurial University of the Year.

Mark Covell,


Strathclyde Students Association 1990-91,

1 Hill Street,