Sad passing of ‘proud son’ of Derry

The late Professor Jim Allen.
The late Professor Jim Allen.

Professor Jim Allen, who died at the weekend after a long illness, was a pivotal figure in the growth of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus over the past decade.

A distinguished biomedical scientist, Professor Allen (59) was a native of Derry and a past pupil of Foyle and Londonderry College.

Educated at Queen’s University, Belfast, he joined the then Ulster Polytechnic in 1977 as a lecturer in Physiology and Biochemistry.He was appointed to a personal Chair of Physiology in 1995 and became Head of the Faculty of Science Research Graduate School in 1995 and Dean of the Faculty of Social & Health Sciences and Education in 1997.

Professor Allen moved into senior management in 2000 when he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Support and Provost of the Magee campus. He continued to serve as a Pro-Vice-Chancellor, with a range of portfolios, and as Provost of Magee from 2006 until his retirement earlier this year.

Professor Deirdre Heenan, who assumed the role of Provost earlier this year after ill-health forced Professor Allen to step down, paid tribute to his work and achievements.

“We are all saddened by this tragic news. Jim was admired and respected by all who knew him, whether professionally or personally, and the University is diminished by his loss.

“His unfailing commitment and boundless energy in the service of the university, in general, and of Magee, in particular, were an example to us all. Jim’s sound advice, unfailing good humour and great generosity of spirit will be greatly missed.”

Foyle MP Mark Durkan also paid tribute to Prof. Allen: “Jim was a proud son of Derry and a strong advocate of university expansion in the city,” he said.

“Jim Allen didn’t only oversee development in the Magee campus but also the development of the university’s connections with key sectors in the city and region

Padraig Canavan, of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce and university lobby group, U4D, added: “Jim was a very affable and popular person and a dedicated champion of Magee’s expansion for many years. He was a very hard working individual who will be sadly missed.”