Development & Alumni Relations Office 


01 September 2021

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

In a tribute on the University website, Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, said:

"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.

"He 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."

John Alexander King was born in Belfast on 21 March 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, was appointed to a Lectureship in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Pharmacy at Queen’s. 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. Formed by Sir Allen McClay, Galen 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 recognition of his outstanding contribution to Queen’s and the pharmaceutical industry, John was awarded an honorary degree in 2006.

In 2018 John, alongside former Warner Chilcott colleagues, launched Millicent Pharma, with John serving as Chair of the healthcare company.

A passionate advocate for the importance of education and research in changing lives John 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.

He served as a member of the Queen’s Management School International Advisory Board until summer 2020, and joined Queen’s Foundation Board in 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.

Ed Vernon, Deputy Chair of the Foundation Board, commented: “It was an honour to serve alongside John on the Foundation Board. Under his leadership the Foundation raised more than £19 million through philanthropy to support the University.

“His warmth and inclusivity as a leader were apparent to all who worked with him, and his personal philanthropy was an exemplar for all other donors. He will be sorely missed.”

Professor Greer concluded: "To all those who knew him well, John was a larger-than-life character with tremendous energy, warmth and vision.

"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."

For general enquiries about this news story, or to submit alumni/honorary graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

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