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‘Towering figure’ and former OU Chancellor, Asa Briggs, dies

The OU is sad to hear of the passing of Asa Briggs, who served as the Chancellor of The Open University from 1978 to 1994. He died today (15 March) at his home in Lewes, aged 94. He played a significant role in the development of the University and remained a great friend and supporter of the OU.

A prominent historian, in 1967 he was appointed to The Open University’s Planning Committee, charged with setting up the new university. Appointed Chancellor in 1978, he was actively involved in the OU’s development and and on stepping down in 1994, the Briggs building was opened on the university’s Walton Hall campus in Milton Keynes.

The Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks, said:

Asa Briggs was one of the leading lights behind the establishment of The Open University and served as our Chancellor for 15 years. He was a towering figure in education, influencing the development of new universities in Britain and abroad. A distinguished historian, particularly of broadcasting, Asa Briggs was awarded a Fellowship of the University in 1999, one of only seven people to achieve this honour. He will be greatly missed within the University and our thoughts are with his wife Susan and all of his family.

Just last week, Asa Briggs was in touch with the OU and revealed a passion for poetry with the publication of 100 of his poems this year. He said: “I have always focussed my work on inter-disciplinary studies, which were at the very heart of all my work at Oxford, at Leeds, at the new University of Sussex and at The Open University from the beginning. The fundamentals of thought, analysis, education, democracy, the arts, and personal development are all closely intertwined – and are our best guide in life.”

About Author

Robyn is Deputy Head of the Social Media Engagement Team in Communications. Formerly a newspaper journalist, she is an experienced comms professional working on a broad range of content for multiple channels. She likes walking her cocker spaniel, Ralphie, reading crime novels and anything that involves laughing.

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