Obituary: Professor James Keaton MBE

Date posted:
Mon 17 January 2022

Professional Liverpool joins with the business and academic worlds in mourning the death at the end of last month of former director and PL Ambassador, Professor Jim Keaton MBE.

Throughout this century, Jim played a major part in academia in the Liverpool City Region. At the University of Liverpool he held a range of senior positions including Vice-President of the Council, Treasurer and Pro-Chancellor as well as being Chairman of the University’s Management School Advisory Board. Subsequently, Jim joined Hope University where he played a significant role in the development of Hope’s business school as Non-Executive Chair of the Liverpool Hope University Business School Advisory Board and was a founder member of Hope’s Board of Regents; he also became an Honorary Business Fellow and Chair of the Liverpool Hope University Foundation.

Prior to joining the academic world, Jim, who was educated at St Edwards College in Liverpool, worked for over 20 years at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) where he had board level responsibilities both in the UK and internationally, stretching from Brazil to Hong Kong. It was there that he realised the latent potential of business tapping into the huge amount of data and knowledge within higher education institutions.

Unlocking that potential very much became his cause and during his time at PL he did much to ensure that links with the City Region’s universities were developed and enhanced. His achievements in bridging the gap between universities and business were recognised by honorary degrees from Manchester University (2000), the University of Liverpool (2014) and Hope University (2017). He also held numerous non-executive directorships at a range of businesses.

Outside business and academia, Jim held a wide range of appointments including Chairman of the North West Regional Board of the National Trust, Ambassador for Wirral Hospice St Johns, Trustee of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Chairman of Governors at Upton Hall Grammar School. Most recently in 2019 he was appointed Chair of the Goodison Park Legacy Board.

His contributions to a wide range of organisations were acknowledged by an array of awards including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from the Catholic Church, an MBE in 2012 for services to heritage in the North West, and gold and silver research medals from the Society of Dyers and Colourists of which he was a past President. He was also a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Dyers. In 2018 he was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Daily Telegraph Educate North Awards.

PL sends its sincere condolences to Jim’s family at the loss of a great contributor to the advancement of the Liverpool City Region.