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Professor John Percival (1937-2007)

The University regrets to announce the death of Professor John Percival, School of History and Archaeology and former Pro Vice-Chancellor who died on Monday 8 January 2007. John was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis shortly before his retirement in 2002.

He joined the University in 1962 as assistant lecturer in Ancient History in the Department of Classics, following his education at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Hertford College and Merton College, Oxford.

An internationally respected Classics scholar and key figure in the development of Classical Studies at Cardiff and in the UK, he was appointed to a Chair in Ancient History in 1985.  His research focused on the economic and social history of the later Roman Empire and the late Roman, Merovingian and Carolingian periods in France.  Particularly influential was his work on the change of function of Roman villas into Christian monasteries, forging a link between the ancient and medieval worlds. This was published in articles and in his book The Roman Villa. An Historical Introduction (1976; 2nd edition 1988). His research on the post-Roman period, was further illustrated by his sourcebook The Reign of Charlemagne (1975, edited jointly with Professor HR Loyn), and by a contribution (`The Precursors of Domesday') to Peter Sawyer's volume, Domesday Book: A Reassessment (1985).

During his career at Cardiff University, John held a number of influential roles.  From 1987 to 1988 he was a member of Management Team and Executive Commission that masterminded merger of University College Cardiff (UCC), and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST).  He was the force that brought UCC to the negotiating table in Cardiff for merger discussions and was a great political influence for change.  He was always active in supporting positive relations between the University and its academic Schools, whether as Cardiff he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1977-86), Deputy Principal (1987-1990), Head of the School of History and Archaeology (1987-1997), or Pro Vice- Chancellor (1997-2002). In addition he was influential in reorganising the University’s Student Health and Occupational Health services. He was also Chair of the UK Classical Association.  While thus actively involved in educational politics and administration throughout his career, he was a dedicated and highly popular teacher and taught until his retirement. He received the OBE in 2003 and became a Fellow of the University in 2004.

Professor Percival maintained a devout and active profession of the Christian Faith, serving the Church in Wales in a lay capacity on many bodies and committees.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "Professor Percival gave invaluable support and leadership to the University.  His sage advice and wise counsel was highly valued and his friendship and support was given generously.  Everyone who knew John will be deeply saddened by his death. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Jackie and all his family."

Professor Peter Coss, Head of the School of History and Archaeology, said "Professor Percival had been universally acknowledged as a very fine head of school. His capacity for hard work, his perennial courtesy and his generosity of spirit earned him the respect, loyalty and affection of his colleagues."