Sir Donald Walters

1925-2017

Sir Donald Walters with portrait

The University has lost another outstanding leader in the recent death of Sir Donald.

I was fortunate that, during my inappropriately long service as a member of Council, I spent a considerable period working under the Chairmanship of Donald or alongside him as a Council member. His commitment to the University is a matter of record inasmuch as there was not a committee of the Council that he did not chair at some stage during his tenure. He worked tirelessly to secure the appointment of Sir Brian Smith as Vice Chancellor which was the most fortuitous and appropriate appointment and breathed new life into the academic aspirations of the University. This followed on the success of Sir Aubrey Trotman-Dickenson who was instrumental in turning round the financial position of the merged institution.

Donald is best known, and most revered, for his Chairmanship of the Executive Commission which brought about the merger of University of Wales College, Cardiff and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology at the end of the 1980s. He was subsequently appointed Chair of Council - a position he held for 10 years. He continued as a Council member until 2010. He was elected Vice President 1989-2004 and would have completed his term as Pro Chancellor at the end of July this year.

Donald was a lawyer by profession but his career path took him into the world of corporate finance. He worked closely with Sir Julian Hodge who was a generous benefactor to UWIST. He was an Executive Director of Chartered Trust, Deputy Chair of the Welsh Development Agency, Vice Chair of the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Director and Vice Chair of Welsh National Opera and Chairman of Llandough NHS Trust.

Such was Donald's reputation that he came through the cull of the quangos largely unscathed. Sir Donald worked tirelessly for the University, giving his time generously. More recently he had played a valued role as a Trustee of the Students’ Union where his legal expertise and financial acumen were of inestimable value to sabbatical officers year on year.

The Union decided to recognise his contribution to its success by naming the Boardroom after him.

Donald was devoted to his wife Jean and I know how distressing he found her debilitating illness, especially when she had to go into care. He and Jean had a wide appreciation of both opera and orchestral music and my wife, Sue and I were fortunate to often spend time in their company at productions of Welsh National Opera and concerts at St David's Hall.

He was knighted in 1983 and served as High Sheriff of South Glamorgan in 1987/88. Until quite recently, he served as Clerk to the Dean and Chapter of Llandaff Cathedral.

Early retirement was a figment of someone else's imagination but certainly not Donald's. He will be sorely missed.

Mr Richard Roberts CBE OBE