Ben Bowen Thomas

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Sir Ben Bowen Thomas (18 May 1899 – 26 July 1977) was a Welsh civil servant and university President. He served as Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Department of the Ministry of Education from 1945 to 1963, and was President of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth from 1964 to 1975. In June 1977 Thomas was awarded an Honorary Degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.

Thomas was born in 1899 in Ystrad Rhondda, and was educated at Rhondda Grammar School, the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and Jesus College, Oxford. Influenced by the adult education movement, he spent five years as a university tutorial class lecturer before becoming the first warden of Coleg Harlech when it was founded by Dr Thomas Jones in 1927. He remained there until 1940, when he moved to the Ministry of Labour and then the Ministry of Education. Thomas was President of the London Welsh Trust, which runs the London Welsh Centre, Gray's Inn Road, from 1953 until 1955.[1] He was also involved with the work of Unesco, becoming a member of its executive board and later chairman (1958–1960). During his time at the Ministry of Education, he worked for improved standards in Welsh schools and for Welsh language tuition (he was a fluent Welsh speaker). He retired from the civil service in 1963, becoming president of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1964 and serving until 1975. He was also chairman of the Baptist Union of Wales (1966–1967). Apart from his knighthood awarded in the 1950 King's Birthday Honours List, he was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wales and an Honorary Fellowship by Jesus College. He died on 26 July 1977 in Bangor, Gwynedd.[2]

Offices held[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir David Hughes Parry
President of the University College of Wales Aberystwyth
Succeeded by
Cledwyn Hughes, Baron Cledwyn of Penrhos


  1. ^ "Our Former Presidents: London Welsh Centre". London Welsh Centre website. London Welsh Centre. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Sir Ben Bowen Thomas – A force in Welsh education". The Times. 29 July 1977. p. 16.