The fifth Rector of Aquinas College, Rev. Dr. Ian Howells SJ, died in Brisbane on 23 April, aged 91. Fr Howells was Rector of the College from 1975 to 1983. Aquinas College offers its deep condolences to the Jesuit Province of Australia on the passing of one of its most esteemed members.
Ian Howells was born and grew up in Melbourne where he attended Xavier College. He matriculated to the University of Melbourne where he completed a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) in Mathematics. Ian continued his studies at Cambridge University in the U.K. where he attained a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 1959. He was to remain involved in tutoring, lecturing, and research in the field of mathematics for most of his life, at the University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide, Trinity College Cambridge, and the University of Queensland.
On his return to Australia, Dr Howells entered the Society of Jesus, and was ordained priest in December 1967. He became part of the Jesuit community at Newman College and began a lectureship at the University of Melbourne. Fr Howells came to Adelaide in 1974 to take up positions at Aquinas College and the University of Adelaide. He was appointed Rector the following year, the first year that the College enrolled female students. The full integration of women into the life of Aquinas was one of the achievements of his rectorship. Fr Howells was known for his friendly and attentive approach to students, during a time of significant change in university and collegiate life. When asked what was most important for a residential college, he said that it should strive to be like a home.
For twenty years after leaving Aquinas, Fr Howells was Chaplain (and for a couple of years Vice-Rector) of St Leo’s College in Brisbane, while continuing his involvement in the academic and pastoral life of the University of Queensland. He remained involved in a research position at UQ until 2011 and as Catholic Chaplain there until 2016.
Ian Howells is remembered as a deeply spiritual and pastoral man, a dedicated priest, an exceptional academic, and a warm and unassuming human being, who was held with great affection by all who knew him.
Requiescat in pace