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Former Aston Vice Chancellor, Michael Wright, dies aged 67

Professor Michael Wright

20th January 2015

Professor Michael Wright, the previous Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, passed away on Saturday January 10th 2015 after fighting bravely against cancer for some time.

Aston and Mike Wright were closely and inextricably linked for over 45 years. Graduating with a First in Electrical Engineering in 1969, Mike went on to take his PhD at Aston in 1997.  After a period of success in the private sector where he rose to become Managing Director of Molins Engineering, Mike returned to the University in 1990 as Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Head of Engineering. Mike subsequently became Dean of ABS, Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor, and in August 1996 became Vice- Chancellor, a position he filled for a decade before retiring in 2006.

As Vice-Chancellor he oversaw the University through a phase of strategic development, securing a dynamic and expanding role for Aston as a leading UK university for the new millennium.  During the academic year 1996/97 Aston redefined its mission:  to be an international centre of excellence in teaching, research and consultancy, focused on subjects of professional and vocational relevance in the sciences, engineering, business and the humanities.

In February 1997 the Privy Council approved the change in name from the University of Aston in Birmingham to Aston University. 

The following year, the academic faculties were restructured into four Academic Schools: Aston Business School, Engineering & Applied Science, Life & Health Sciences and Languages & European Studies, which was later renamed as Languages and Social Sciences.

Mike Wright retired as Vice-Chancellor in December 2006, and was succeeded by Professor Dame Julia King. 

Dame Julia said: “It is with great sadness that Aston University announces that Michael has lost his battle with cancer. He was closely linked with Aston for over 45 years and is fondly remembered. Michael was responsible for reviving and reinvigorating Aston’s strong links to industry and business in the West Midlands. The University’s most recent new lecture theatre will be named after Professor Wright in his memory, as a fitting tribute to a colleague who cared passionately about Aston University.”

Michael is survived by his wife Pat, and his daughter Becky and our thoughts are with the Wright family at this difficult time.

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For further media information contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549 or a.earnshaw@aston.ac.uk