Open University Pays Tribute To Its First Secretary

May 30, 2002

Anastasios ‘Chris’ Christodoulou, 1932-2002

Tributes to Dr Anastasios ‘Chris’ Christodoulou, the first Secretary of the Open University, have been paid by current university staff and former colleagues.

Dr Christodoulou, who died at the age of 70 earlier this month, was widely recognised as one of the institution’s founding figures. He served as Secretary from the autumn of 1968 to the summer of 1980.

He was responsible for the introduction and direction of every aspect of the OU’s academic, financial and staff administration, overseeing the establishment of the university’s governance structure, the initial development of the main campus in Milton Keynes and the development of the university’s student support systems.

In an obituary to be published in the university’s staff newspaper, Lord Perry of Walton – who, as the university’s first Vice-Chancellor, worked alongside Dr Christodoulou for many years – recalls that he was the “rock to which I clung”.

The article continues: “Chris maintained a clear vision for the university and its administration as it moved from the planning to operational stage. He became one of its chief ambassadors in the UK and abroad. Although the university grew quickly in size and complexity, he maintained the early ethos of informality, good humour, sense of proportion, warmth, fairness, service, integrity and commitment. “He was a familiar figure on the campus, was known with affection as Chris to everyone and made it his job to talk with staff at all levels and in all parts of the university.”

The article goes on: “Chris was truly one of the giants of the team that the first Vice-Chancellor brought together in 1968 and 1969. He will have a special place in the history of the university as its first Secretary and one of its outstanding and much-loved founding figures.”

Dr Christodoulou left the university in 1980 to become secretary-general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, serving in that role until his retirement in 1996.

Born in Cyprus, he moved to England at the age of four and attended a London grammar school. After National Service, he studied at Oxford and graduated in politics, philosophy and economics. He went on to join the British Colonial Service and spent six years in what is now Tanzania as district officer and magistrate. After independence there, he returned to England and joined the University of Leeds, soon becoming its deputy secretary. From there, he moved to the fledgling Open University.

He was awarded the CBE in 1978 for his contribution to the establishment of the Open University; the OU conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of the University in 1981.

Dr Christodoulou leaves a widow, Joan, two daughters and two sons.