William Arthur Watts
1981 – 1991 (1930 - 2010) 1

William A. Watts was born in Dublin’s dockland on 26 May 1930.  After winning an entrance scholarship to Trinity in 1948, he read modern languages later combining this course with study in science and gained first class moderatorships in both subjects in 1952 and 1953 respectively. After a short period as a lecturer in Botany at Hull, he returned to Trinity in 1955, was elected to fellowship in 1960. He devoted himself to the study of the history of the post-glacial flora (especially in its ecological aspects), first in Ireland but later also in North America and southern Europe.  He held the offices of Senior Lecturer and Dean of Science and had just been appointed Professor of Quaternary Ecology in 1980 when Provost Lyons retirement was announced. In 1981 he was appointed Provost, but despite the heavy administrative burden that this involves, he managed to maintain his research interests and his position as a leader in this field.  His eminence as a scholar was recognized by his election in 1982 for a three year term as President of the Royal Irish Academy. He also played an important part in hospital reorganization, being Chairman of the Federated Dublin Voluntary Hospitals and of the Health Research Board.  Watt’s provostship was particularly notable for the development of a building programme designed to mark the quatercentenary by extensive and permanent additions to College facilities. Sadly, William A. Watts passed away on 26 April 2010.

Painting Details

By Derek Hill
Oil on canvas

  1. J.V. Luce, Trinity College Dublin, The First 400 Years (Dublin, 1992), pp 216-7.