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Former ANU vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Donald Anthony Low dies

Former Australian National University vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Donald Anthony Low, who has been remembered for his capacity to bring people together, died in Canberra on Thursday aged 87.

Professor Low, known as Anthony, was vice-chancellor from 1975 to 1982 and director of the Research School of Pacific Studies from 1973 to 1975.

Former ANU vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Donald Anthony Low who died on Thursday.
Former ANU vice-chancellor Emeritus Professor Donald Anthony Low who died on Thursday. Photo: act\clare.colley

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young said Professor Low represented the university boldly at a crucial time in its history.

"Professor Low led the university through a period of change in Australia's political and tertiary education landscape, and he left a significant legacy," Professor Young said.

Last year the ANU named its innovations building in honour of Professor Low.

He also has a building named after him at Cambridge University, where he worked for 15 years from 1982.


He also held senior positions at the University of Sussex, and Makere University in Uganda and was African correspondent for The Times in London during the late 1950s.

Professor Low is survived by his wife Belle Low and children Penny, Angela, and Adam who were with him when he died at Jindalee Nursing Home, Narrabundah, from Parkinson's disease.

Last year his daughter recalled how her father would have lunch with groups across the university each week, from gardeners through to researchers, occasionally gave lectures and hosted essay writing classes for postgraduate students in his chancellery room.

S.G. Foster, in his book The Making of The Australian National University, remembered Professor Low as one of the great shapers of the university.

"Low can be imagined standing confidently at the helm of an ocean liner, moving sedately between countries and continents," he wrote.

"Tall and upright, with an urbane and engaging manner, he spent many hours at the captain's table educating key politicians and public servants about the ANU's contribution to the nation."

Professor Low's funeral will be held at 10am on Thursday, February 19, at St John's Church, Reid.

The ANU will hold a memorial service at a later date.

Despite the challenging times Professor Low faced at the ANU's helm, Professor Young said he helped establish a research centre in the Research School of Earth Sciences relating to environmental chemistry, a study into the function of the cerebral cortex at the then Research School of Biological Sciences, and a centre for economic policy research in the Research School of Social Sciences.