THE first Vice-Chancellor of Bournemouth University, who was awarded an honorary doctorate, died on March 10.

Under the leadership of Dr Bernard MacManus, the Dorset Institute grew significantly and achieved polytechnic status.

This enabled Bournemouth to become a University under the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992.

A West Country man by birth, Dr MacManus took a University of London degree in Engineering at Plymouth College of Technology.

After working in industry, as a development engineer at the Central Electricity Generating Board, he became a Senior Research Associate at the University of Birmingham, where in 1969 he did a PhD in mechanical engineering.

His advancement through the ranks of academia was rapid, and a series of increasingly senior appointments in several polytechnics took him in 1978 to Glasgow College of Technology (now Caledonian University) as Deputy Director. Dr MacManus became Director of the Dorset Institute of Higher Education in 1983 when it was at a low point in its history.

Its Weymouth Campus was about to close, along with the initial teacher training programmes based there.

The loss of a campus, and a major academic discipline, could have been fatal blows. But the new director brought fresh vision, enormous drive and energy. The widening of the curriculum and the growth of student numbers enabled Dr MacManus to make a powerful case for designation as a polytechnic.

This was a daunting task but his two-year campaign ended in success when Bournemouth Polytechnic became a reality in 1990 – the first designation of a new polytechnic in some 20 years.

During his time as Director and Vice-Chancellor Dr MacManus led the consolidation of the Talbot Campus, including the building of the Student Village and the Student Centre. Generations of students will be grateful to him for facilitating the establishment of the Old Fire Station, one the UK’s most successful student nightclubs.

Dr MacManus retired from BU in 1994 and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university, acknowledging his vision, sense of purpose and commitment.

His funeral was held at Weymouth Crematorium on March 18.