The Ahmedabad University (AU) on Thursday condoled the death of British historian, author and biographer Patrick French (56), the Founding Dean of its School of Arts and Sciences and Professor for the Public Understanding of the Humanities, who “promoted interdisciplinary teaching and research”.
Professor French, who was appointed the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University in July 2017 and stepped down in July 2022, died on Thursday in London after a battle with cancer.
Expressing grief, University Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Chandra said, “Patrick French brought a historian’s wisdom and a biographer’s deep sensitivity in developing a truly unique and contemporary School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad. He cared about details… His scholarship was deep and incisive and his personal touch tender. I will greatly miss a colleague and a dear friend.”
In a statement, the University shared, “At the School of Arts and Sciences, he strongly promoted interdisciplinary teaching and research. He worked passionately and succeeded in extending the scope of courses to cover Indian and South Asian intellectual traditions in humanities and social sciences.”
Under his leadership, the School launched a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science Honours programme, alongside an Integrated Masters in Life Sciences programme, and innovative Majors specialising in History, Economics, Psychology, Physics, and Computer Science, as well as original Majors in Social and Political Sciences, and in Philosophy, History and Languages.
“He shepherded the development of the highly innovative interdisciplinary PhD programme in Humanities and Social Sciences. Under his mentorship, the School hosted over 100 eminent academic and public policy specialists from across India and the world, ranging from ground-breaking young scholars to Nobel laureates,” the statement said.
“Professor French was unflinching in his emphasis on academic distinction, on a commitment to mentorship for students and faculty, and to advancing the research and local public value of the School in order to connect with the communities it serves,” it added.
“Future generations of arts and science scholars from the Ahmedabad University will carry Professor French’s interdisciplinary vision and sensitivity towards social issues in their education. His memory will live on in the memories and the hearts of those he touched with his presence and guidance,” the University stated in his remembrance.