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Sir Duncan Rice passes away at 79

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

University pays tribute to ‘quiet revolutionary.’

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Image courtesy of the University of Aberdeen

Professor Sir Charles Duncan Rice has died aged 79, the University confirmed Friday afternoon. Rice served as Principal of the University for nearly 15 years, substantially increasing the University’s international reputation and spearheading a fundraising campaign which raised 230 million pounds in capital.

Rice was born in Aberdeen in 1942, amidst the turmoil of the Second World War. He graduated from the University in 1964 with a degree in History, before spending several years as a lecturer at his alma mater. In 1969, having completed his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh, Rice moved to the United States to teach at Yale University. He later became Vice-Chancellor of New York University, helping to create a philanthropic campaign which ultimately raised over 1 billion USD in funds.

In 1996, Rice returned to Aberdeen to serve as Principal of the University of Aberdeen. Under his leadership, the University entered into a ‘a period of transformational change,’ which saw significant advancements in the university's ‘international standing and outlook,’ per the official announcement of his passing. For his philanthropic work and contributions to British education, Rice was awarded a Knighthood in 2009.

Professor George Boyne, the University’s current Principal, eulogised Sir Rice, saying: ‘Professor Sir Duncan Rice drew attention to this country's distinguished and long-standing tradition of philanthropy for education and re-asserted its importance for universities today… His passion for building a British culture of giving in support of Higher Education had benefits well beyond Aberdeen and earned him a reputation as “the quiet revolutionary” of Scottish higher education.’


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