Tributes paid to much-respected former University researcher - Alumni newsletter - University of Derby

Tributes paid to much-respected former University researcher, Court member and Honorand

University News


The University is deeply saddened to hear of the death of former court member, Dr Douglas A. Ibbitson, who passed away on Friday 13 January 2017, aged 99 years.

A Yorkshire man by birth, he made Derby his home.

Dr Ibbitson was appointed by Principal Alfred Richardson in 1946 to lead and develop research in the Chemistry Department at the former Derby Technical College from 1946 to 1980 - and that is exactly what he did for the next 34 years.

During that time the department moved from the Green Lane site to Kedleston Road, where Douglas and his staff helped design the new purpose-built labs. From 1948-84 the department published no less than 68 research papers in scientific journals.

Shortly after his retirement, Dr Douglas was awarded an Emeritus Readership in appreciation of his work. His large body of work had contributed to the College's bid for University status.

He was made a member of the University Court, where he continued to take an interest in the scientific work of the University. At a celebration of his 90th birthday at the University, a tribute from the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Coyne, noted that Dr Douglas had supervised more postgraduate research students to successful completion than any other member of staff of the College or the University. He was known as a distinguished academic and gentleman.

His daughter, Julie Bunyan, said: “I know my father was very proud of his achievements in his field of research. Once published, it was referenced by many other scientists around the globe. But he was modest and I had no idea of the respect in which he was held. Letters of condolence have arrived from former Derby postgraduates who have said that he set them on their future careers.”

“He worked very hard - long hours in the lab when there were experiments under way which couldn't be left. He instilled those work ethics in all those who came in contact with him, including us, his daughters.”

In 1993, at the University’s first-ever graduation Awards Ceremony, Douglas was awarded an honorary DSc by the University.

He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and former colleagues at the University.