Atkins, Henry St John (1896–1987), president of UCC, was born in Cork on 19 March 1896, son of Patrick Atkins and Agnes Atkins (née Egan); he was educated at North Monastery school in Cork, and graduated B.Sc. from UCC (1915). He received an M.Sc. eight years later, and deputised for Alfred O'Rahilly (qv) in the UCC department of mathematics in 1926–7. From 1927 to 1936 he was professor of mathematics in St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, and professor of mathematics in UCC from 1936. He married (1929) Agnes Elizabeth O'Regan, a graduate in medicine; they had a son and a daughter. From 1944 to 1954 he was registrar of the college, a part-time post but regarded as preparatory to the presidency of the college. When the latter became vacant (1954) Atkins was elected, though colleagues realised that his local knowledge and pleasant personality were his strongest recommendations. He was the first president to be formally installed, and was one of the first Irish college presidents to seek financial support in the USA; though he was unsuccessful in attracting funding, he was able to persuade US bodies to continue to recognise UCC medical qualifications. He managed to extract sufficient funds from the government, from local Cork industries, and from graduates to permit the founding of a full-time chair of medicine, the continued existence of the school of dentistry, and a building programme on the newly acquired site of the former Cork jail. He was elected MRIA (1957) and was awarded a D.Sc. by the NUI. After his first wife died (1960), Atkins lost interest in the difficulties of remedying chronic underfunding, and retired early (15 October 1963). He died 12 October 1987 in Cork, survived by his second wife, Nuala.
U.C.C. Record, xxx (1955), 17; xxxix (1964), 24–7; Ir. Times, 13 Oct. 1987; Members of the Royal Irish Academy (1987), 7; WWW, addenda; John A. Murphy, The College: a history of Queen's/University College Cork, 1845–1995 (1995), 292–7 (photo)