Vale Professor Anthony Low AO

13 February 2015

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.

The ANU has paid tribute to former Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Low AO, who died in Canberra on Thursday 12 February. He was 87.

Professor Donald Anthony Low was Vice-Chancellor from 1975 to 1982.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO said Professor Low made an immense contribution to the University 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.

“He will be remembered for his capacity to bring people together and to represent the University boldly,” Professor Young said.

Despite the challenging times, Professor Low helped establish a research centre in the Research School of Earth Sciences relating to environmental chemistry.

He also established a study into the function of the cerebral cortex at the then named Research School of Biological Sciences. A new centre for economic policy research was also established in the Research School of Social Sciences.

Professor Low was Director of the Research School of Pacific Studies from 1973 to 1975. 

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

In 2014, the ANU honoured Professor Low by naming the innovations building after him. He also has a building named after him at Cambridge, where he worked for 15 years following the conclusion of his Vice-Chancellorship at ANU in 1982.

Professor Low’s daughter Penny last year recalled how her father would have lunch with groups across the University each week, from gardeners through to researchers, and he would occasionally teach a lecture or two to students.

“When he was Vice-Chancellor he actually had postgraduate students come into his office that had come from all over the world. They were brilliant students, but many of them didn’t know how to write an essay so he had essay writing classes in his room in the Chancelry,” she said.

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.

“If Hancock could be seen as the captain of the cricket team, Low can be imagined standing confidently at the helm of an ocean liner, moving sedately between countries and continents. 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 next at St John’s Church, Reid, on Thursday 19 February at 10am.

The University will hold a memorial to celebrate the life and legacy of Professor Low at a later date.