Professor Roger Ainsworth
Master of St Catherine’s College, Pro-Vice Chancellor, and Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
St Catherine’s College is deeply saddened to share the news that the Master, Professor Roger Ainsworth, died on 23 February after a short battle with cancer. Professor Ainsworth became Tutorial Fellow in Engineering at St Catherine’s in 1985, having worked for ten years in industry at Rolls-Royce and then at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, and became Master of the College in 2002. Prior to his time in industry, he studied as both an undergraduate and a graduate student at Jesus College, University of Oxford, where he became an Honorary Fellow in 2002. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2004, in recognition of his work in the field of jet engine research, and in 2017 he became a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, a distinction which acknowledged his academic excellence in the subject of mechanical engineering. In honour of his work promoting the College’s connection with Denmark, Professor Ainsworth was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog by HM The Queen of Denmark in 2005.
He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 2003 onwards and, as Chair of the University’s Building Committee, he oversaw a £750 million building programme over 13 years. But the most important part of his work – and the aspect that he enjoyed the most – was interacting with and encouraging our students. Alongside his work at St Catherine’s College and the University, he also held prominent roles in a number of local and national organisations, including Chair of the Oxford Preservation Trust, Chair of the Dragon School Governing Body, Chair of Abingdon School Governing Body, Chair of the Board for the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Collaborating Centre for Values-Based Practice in Health and Social Care. During his time as Master, Professor Ainsworth presided over an immense amount of change at St Catherine’s, with thousands of students coming and going during his tenure. His dedication and commitment to ensuring that St Catherine’s remains a welcoming college and a remarkable environment in which to live, work, and study was extraordinary. He will be sorely missed by students and colleagues alike. As a mark of respect, the College is flying its flag at half-mast.
The Vice-Master, Professor Penny Handford, said: “The entire College community is deeply indebted to Roger for his loyal friendship, his outstanding leadership, and his immense contribution to the advancement of St Catherine’s College. He will be greatly missed and we will continue to honour the tremendous impact he has had on our community. In the meantime, as Roger himself said, the College must march forward together.”
A book of condolence is now open at the St Catherine’s College Porters’ Lodge, and messages are being received on our website at www.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/roger-ainsworth/. All messages sent to the College will be passed on to the family. Details of a memorial service will be announced in due course.