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Tribute to Dr John King, Chair of the University Foundation Board

Queen's is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr John King, Chair of the University Foundation Board.

Dr John King

John was born in Belfast in 1949 and received his early education at Methodist College Belfast. He continued his studies at Queen’s, graduating with a first-class honours degree in Pharmacy in 1971 and receiving the prestigious Gold Medal of the Pharmaceutical Society of NI. He then undertook a PhD, graduating in 1974 and one year into his PhD studies in 1972, aged just 23, John was appointed to a Lectureship in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Pharmacy at Queen’s and in 1976 he took on the role as Academic Secretary of FIP, the International Pharmaceutical Federation. He left the University in 1978 to begin his long association with Galen, the NI Pharmaceutical Company. Galen, formed by Sir Allen McClay, was at that time a very young and small company and John joined as Technical Manager. He shortly became Technical Director and by 1985 was appointed Managing Director of the Company. He subsequently became Chief Executive Officer and prepared the Company for its successful stock market flotation in 1997 becoming Executive Chairman in 2000. From 2000 until 2005 he served as Executive Chairman of Galen Holdings Ltd and Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Warner Chilcott from June 2005. In 2018 John, alongside former Warner Chilcott colleagues, launched Millicent Pharma, with John serving as Chair of the healthcare company.

Throughout his career, John remained closely connected to Queen’s through research and business alliances with the School of Pharmacy, where a specialist Drug Delivery Research Unit was established in 1996, and the School of Chemistry, through the purchase of a major interest in QUCHEM Ltd. John continued to support research and teaching at Queen’s through his substantial donations leading to the John King laboratory within Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He has also helped fund the KN Cheung SK Chin Intersim Centre, in the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Queen’s and the pharmaceutical industry, John was awarded an honorary degree in 2006.

To all those who knew him well, John was a larger-than-life character with tremendous energy, warmth and vision. He was a passionate advocate for the importance of education and research in changing lives and he was a loyal supporter of Queen’s over many years, both through his considerable philanthropic donations, but also in giving of his time and experience so generously, serving as a member of the Queen’s Management School International Advisory Board until Summer 2020, and the Queen’s Foundation Board since 2016, taking up the role of Chair of the Board in 2018. John led the Board, with the same focus and commitment that he exercised throughout his career, demonstrating exceptional clarity of vision and building global relationships, to support the University’s philanthropic ambitions.

On behalf of the entire Queen’s community, to John’s wife Rachel, his sons and the wider family circle we extend our sincerest condolences.

Professor Ian Greer
President and Vice-Chancellor