After achieving a First Class degree in Classics from Cambridge, Michael qualified as an accountant. He was however fairly quickly drawn to university administration and rose very rapidly to become Academic Secretary at the University of Strathclyde before being appointed as UEA's second Registrar and Secretary at the early age of 38, working with the University's first Vice Chancellor Frank Thistlethwaite.
During more than 20 years at UEA, Michael worked with five vice chancellors and many other valued academic colleagues to help shape change, and keep the university on track through some challenging financial times.
Having arrived in the week that Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Centre opened, Michael had particular pleasure in working with other distinguished architects on new buildings that took the style of this campus university well beyond its iconic Denys Lasdun Ziggurats. Members of his team of administrators remember him as a wise and supportive leader, whilst a former academic colleague writes: ‘his ability to recognize and seize opportunities was coupled with a warmth, kindness and sense of fairness‘. One of his vice chancellors who particularly valued their working relationship, writes: ‘disagreements, yes, but falling out, never!’
Michael always enjoyed the fraternity of university administrators and this led to creative roles in their national bodies as he and others sought to professionalize what had previously been a somewhat amateur role. Long-time allies write of him as ‘an admired and respected colleague’. It always gave him pleasure to meet up with these old friends in retirement and to be an honorary member of the circle of retired Secretaries of Scottish universities.
The above was taken from the eulogy given by Michael’s brother-in-law at his funeral, with some additional wording courtesy of Rob Evans.
Th eonline version of Michael's obituary as listed in The Times can be found here, along with an online book of condolence.