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For staff


The University is deeply saddened to hear of the death of its former Registrary Dr Jonathan Nicholls.

Jonathan, who was also an Emeritus Fellow at Emmanuel, was Registrary from 2007 to 2016, having previously been Registrar and Secretary at the University of Birmingham from 2004 to 2007, and Registrar at Warwick from 1999 to 2004. He was, in many ways, the first ‘career Registrar’: his influence across the sector was undeniable and his loss will be widely felt.  

At Cambridge, he was an immense presence, bringing intellect, a deep understanding of the UK higher education system, and a formidable work ethic to his role. He worked closely with two Vice-Chancellors – Alison Richard and Leszek Borysiewicz – and was a key contributor to the development and expansion of the University during their tenures. Jonathan also oversaw the development of the Unified Administrative Service. He cared deeply about the role that the UAS, and wider community of professional services staff in Schools, faculties and departments, played in supporting the University’s academic mission.   

Despite his demanding schedule, which also included significant voluntary commitments, he took a frequent and active interest in developing staff. Many people – at Cambridge, and at other universities where he worked – benefited from his interest in their careers; his willingness to support, advise and provide opportunities for progression. He had high standards, and demanded the same from those who worked for him – but he was also quick to see the lighter side of things, and had an ability to inspire loyalty and togetherness from those whom he managed.  

UK higher education has lost an extraordinary talent, but our thoughts are first with Jonathan’s family and close friends. The University will consider how best to recognise his outstanding contribution to Cambridge and higher education in due course. In the meantime, staff who knew Jonathan may wish to contribute to the digital condolences book that has been set up in his memory:


16 March 2022