Professor Roland Levinsky (16 October 1943 – 1 January 2007) was an academic researcher in biomedicine and a university senior manager. His last post, which he held at the time of his death, was as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom.

Roland Levinsky
Born16 October 1943
Died1 January 2007(2007-01-01) (aged 63)

He was born in South Africa to Jewish parents. His father emigrated from the Lithuania/Poland area to South Africa to escape persecution; many of his relatives died in Nazi-German death camps. Professor Levinsky noted that "Father was a communist and we had our fair share of police raids."[1]

Professor Levinsky was killed in an accident while out walking in stormy weather with his wife, on New Year's Day 2007. High winds blew down overhead power cables in a field near his house in Wembury, and a live cable touched him, causing his electrocution.[2]

Levinsky's initial specialisation was as a paediatrician, and he became a world leader in research on immunodeficiency diseases. He worked for several years at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where he performed Britain's first successful bone marrow transplant.[3] Subsequently, from 1990, he served as Dean and Director of Research at the Institute of Child Health of University College, London, and from 1999 until his appointment to Plymouth, as Vice-Provost for Biomedicine and Head of the Graduate School of the college. He had over 250 scientific publications to his credit.

On his appointment as the University of Plymouth's second vice-chancellor in September 2002, Levinsky set himself to lift the university from its then position as one of the leading post-1992 universities to rival much older and more research-intensive institutions. To do so, he was willing to take unpopular decisions, such as the concentration of the university's teaching (outside the health arena) in Plymouth itself, with the closure of its campuses in Exeter, Newton Abbot (the former Seale-Hayne Agricultural College), and Exmouth (the former Rolle College of Education, moved to Plymouth in 2008).[4] These moves undoubtedly gave Plymouth more the structure of the longer-established UK universities, and its position in the education media's league tables rose sharply in his period of office.

The new Arts building, opened in September 2007 was named The Roland Levinsky Building in his honour. A memorial fund was also established in his name.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Driving force of city university's growth": Western Daily Press 19 July 2006
  2. ^ Lipsett, Anthea (2007-11-30). "Respected academic died after being electrocuted by power line". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  3. ^ "Our history". Great Ormond Street Hospital. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  4. ^ "Professor Roland Levinsky". Retrieved 2017-02-28.