Remembering former Warden Professor Ken Gregory

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Professor Kenneth J Gregory, the ninth Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, has died aged 82.

Serving as Warden from 1992 until his retirement in 1998, Professor Gregory is remembered for leading efforts to considerably strengthen the College’s research reputation.

Professor Gregory gained his PhD in Physical Geography from UCL in 1962 with a thesis on the geomorphology of the North York Moors. From 1962 – 1972 he was Lecturer in Geography at the University of Exeter and later Reader. He went on to become Professor of Physical Geography in 1976 and then Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton.

Professor Gregory was appointed CBE in 2007 for services to geography and higher education and was awarded honorary degrees from the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham, Greenwich and Southampton Solent University, and Fellowships at UCL and Goldsmiths, among other accolades.

A leading scientist in quantitative geomorphology from the mid-1960s and an internationally-known expert in hydrology, he published more than 140 papers and edited 30 books. He was still writing and publishing research into his 80s. His last book The Basics of Geomorphology, co-authored with John Lewin, was published in 2014, and his last paper submitted just weeks ago. 

Professor Alan Downie, who was appointed to his professorship at Goldsmiths during Professor Gregory’s tenure, and Emeritus Professor Tim Crook, Goldsmiths’ historian, have written a full obituary on the life and legacy of Professor Gregory, his impact on the College amidst deep government funding cuts to universities, and their fond memories of his congeniality, patterned cardigans, and famous social events hosted with wife Chris. 

Professor Gregory led a substantial improvement in Goldsmiths’ research ratings, resulting in increased funding, and a reputation for research and teaching excellence. He also oversaw the acquisition of the Laurie Grove Baths, Deptford Town Hall, and the construction of the Rutherford Building housing the library, while improving the College’s financial standing. 

Professor Gregory arrived at Goldsmiths years after the university had closed its geology and geography departments, but as Professor Crook explains, he “won friends and affection because he was not prone to exercise the imperative and ego of his own academic discipline.”

Writing to the College, his son Jon said that Professor Gregory was still involved in academic work in his later years, a keen gardener and a season ticket holder at Southampton FC, rarely missing a match.

Professor Gregory died on 23 November and is survived by his wife Chris, three children and nine grandchildren (Victoria, Michael, Jaivin, Kaisun, George, James, Christy, Tom and Nischan). His first great grandchild is due early in 2021.

Read more on the Goldsmiths History website