The Open University's Berrill Building in Milton Keynes

Founding Director of the OU, John Greenall, dies

John Greenall

John Greenall

John Greenall, a founding director of The Open University, has died.

Mr Greenall served as Director of Information Services from the University’s opening in 1969 until 1987. His role encompassed press relations, publicity, promotional materials and internal newspapers.

With a background in professional PR, his greatest challenge in the early years was to bring the OU to public notice and attract students to study. The University set a challenging target of attracting 25,000 students for 1971, its first year of teaching, and the fledgling information team managed to generate 130,000 inquiries, resulting in 43,000 applications and 24,200 admissions.

The achievement was all the more remarkable because Mr Greenall commissioned only one piece of national media direct advertising – a half-page in the Radio Times. Word was spread through press publicity, the now famous BBC partnership and a huge leaflet drop, distributing half a million flyers to public libraries, trades unions, employers and professional bodies.

As the University developed, Mr Greenall and his team pioneered in-house newspapers within the higher education sector, helping to develop a sense of cohesion among widely dispersed staff and students.

Away from work, Mr Greenall was a keen runner, well known to the local athletics club and the OU Running Club.

His funeral takes place in Milton Keynes on Friday 7 July.