John Nicholson Black

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John Nicholson Black (born 28 June 1922)[1] was Principal of Bedford College, University of London from 1971-81.[2]


John Nicholson Black was educated at Rugby School and Exeter College, Oxford.[1]


He did war service with the RAF from 1942–46 and then obtained a BA in agriculture at Exeter College, Oxford in 1949 followed by an MA and DPhil both in 1952. From 1952-63 he was a lecturer, senior lecturer and Reader at the University of Adelaide Waite Research Institute where he was awarded a DSc in 1965. He was Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Edinburgh from 1963–71 before becoming Principal of Bedford College.[1]

Bedford came under considerable financial pressure in the 1970s from cuts in grants and the limitations of the college site in Regent's Park. The college was slow in responding to the challenge and Black's efforts to persuade the college to a merger especially with Royal Holloway College 'fell on stony ground'.[2] Black came from one of the largest universities in the United Kingdom and: "...was well aware that a college of only eleven hundred students with grant/fee income to match could not be expected to support as many as twenty academic departments in a wide spread of disciplines, especially at a time when public funding was seriously reduced." The inevitable merger came under the next principal (Dorothy Wedderburn)'s leadership.[2]

Personal life[edit]

He married, first, in 1952 Mary Denise Webb (died 1966) with whom he had a son and daughter. He married, second, in 1967 Wendy Marjorie Waterston with whom he has two sons.[citation needed]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Millicent Chilver
Bedford College
University of London

Succeeded by
Dorothy Wedderburn


  1. ^ a b c BLACK, John Nicholson, Who's Who 2012, A & C Black, 2012; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2011; accessed 30 May 2012
  2. ^ a b c Contributing authors - edited by J Mordaunt Crook (2001). Bedford College - Memories of 150 years. Royal Holloway College, Englefield Green, Surrey: RHC University of London.