The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) fosters community university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy.

In Memory - Sir David Watson

In memory of Sir David Watson, Professor of Higher Education, Green Templeton College, Oxford University and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton

From Lorraine McIlrath, National University of Ireland Galway, PI Campus Engage Ireland and Talloires Network Steering Committee Member

It is with a huge sense of loss that I write a memorial to Sir David Watson, mentor, friend, colleague and philosopher who both challenged and inspired my conception of the role of higher education in society through his practical insights, and presentation of historical theories and trends. I first met David a decade ago when the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies following his vision for a university that was both connected and cherished by the local community. CUPP was founded at the same moment in time as the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) which I oversee at NUI Galway and also funded by the same philanthropist as CUPP. Thus, we shared many commonalities in terms of community engagement characteristics while each operating within quite different local contexts. I regularly visited Brighton and took inspiration from the pioneering work that David was overseeing with his team. This inspiring work shaped my own thinking and help us in Ireland grow a national movement which culminated in the development of a national platform for higher education and civic engagement, namely Campus Engage, and a policy vision that centralizes the importance of civic and community engagement for the entire sector to 2030. In my office, his books are on my closest shelf as I dip in and out of them constantly. David was a particularly generous colleague, he affirmed all those he encountered and quoted their work. He accepted every invite I extended to him in terms of visiting Ireland to offer a range of seminars , keynote address and workshops to colleagues in Galway and nationally through Campus Engage. He made me feel very tall in terms of my contribution to this growing field of work while I saw him, and continue to see him, as a giant. I have very fond memories of his final visit to Dublin in June 2014 when he keynoted in the radiance of Irish sunshine on a beautiful June afternoon. I had the honor of introducing David at the conference. I once again teased him as I mentioned that my mother is so proud of me now for knowing a knight - the only knight I am ever likely to know. In my fairy stories of old, I can recall knights being known for their sense of generosity, respectfulness, wisdom, courage, chivalry, honor, trustworthiness, insight and commitment - David was, in my opinion, the highest order knight. He is missed. He will be missed. His legacy lives on in us all.