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Tributes Paid to Professor James Keaton

A great friend and servant of Liverpool Hope University, Professor James Keaton, has sadly passed away.  

Professor Keaton, ‘Jim’ to those who knew him, spent 22 years working for British chemicals giant ICI - aka Imperial Chemical Industries - and it quickly dawned on him how there was a real lack of knowledge about what universities could offer to private sector industry. 

He knew, having been educated at St Edwards College, Liverpool, the University of Liverpool, and Harvard University, US, that there was a huge wealth of data and knowledge sitting within universities that was being untapped by industry. 

And so he devoted much of his career to bridging this gulf between higher education and business. 

Ian McKenna, Associate Dean of the Liverpool Hope Business School, said: “Professor Keaton made an invaluable contribution to the wider University as a Regent. He also played a significant role in the development of the University’s Business School. 

“As the then Chair of the Executive Business Advisory Board, he was instrumental in helping us to achieve our prestigious AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation in 2019 and, after stepping down as Chair, he continued to serve on the board with great distinction. 

“He was respected and admired by all of us who had the honour of calling him a colleague and friend.”

Professor Keaton had worldwide responsibilities while with ICI, with Board membership in 14 countries and secondments to Brazil and Hong Kong. He’s also the past President of the Society of Dyers and Colourists and was awarded silver and gold research medals and Honorary Life Membership in 1986.

Professor Keaton was also founder member of Liverpool Hope’s Board of Regents, who support the University's Strategic Development agenda and act as advocates, helping to connect the University to people, networks and organisations.

He was awarded the title of Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from Hope in January 2017, and during an interview praised the ‘extraordinarily close’ working relationship between staff and students while also lauding Hope’s ever-expanding Business School. 

And that honour really recognised Professor Keaton’s meaningful contribution to building links between the education sector and major businesses and organisations in Merseyside.

It was Professor Keaton who was instrumental in developing Hope’s research partnership with Everton Football Club, an important collaboration which was announced in October 2016. 

The idea was for Hope’s research and analysis to support Everton in developing its knowledge in corporate and performance spheres, technology development and governance. 

Two of the most recent examples of this partnership saw funded research into the history of Everton Football Club, and its award-winning charity Everton in the Community, by way of an MRes in The History of Everton FC, the People’s Club, and an MRes in The History of Everton in the Community: Football at the Service of Humanity

Both of those projects recently concluded with the results to be published in the coming weeks. 

Professor Keaton was also awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by the Catholic Church and is a Freeman of the City of London, as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Dyers. He was a Trustee of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and was Chairman of Governors for Upton Hall Grammar School for 10 years. He has been a non-executive director of several companies, Campus Ventures Ltd, Dundee Textiles Ltd, Roberts Bakery Its and MGP investment Management Ltd.

Up until 2015, he was Chairman of the National Trust North West Regional Board and in January 2012, received an MBE for his services to Heritage in the North West. Professor Keaton was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Chairman of its Management School Advisory Board up until 2014.

In 2015, Professor Keaton was appointed Non-Executive Chair of the Liverpool Hope University Business School Advisory Board and became an Honorary Business Fellow. He is also Chair of the Liverpool Hope University Foundation. 

In 2019 Professor Keaton was appointed Chairman of the Goodison Park Legacy Board.

He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Daily Telegraph ‘Educate North’ programme in 2018.


Published on 10/01/2022