Dame Rosemary Murray, the first woman to hold the vice-chancellor post at Cambridge University, has died aged 91.
Dame Rosemary Murray had a rose named after her earlier this year
Her appointment at the university in 1975 ended more than 760 years of male dominance - although at the time the post held few executive powers.
Born in 1913, she studied chemistry at Oxford and began an academic career.
In 1954 she founded New Hall, Cambridge - a college dedicated to the education of women. She died on Friday, the day after the college's 50th anniversary.
She died at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after suffering a stroke following heart surgery last month.
Professor Alison Richard, the university's second female vice-chancellor, paid tribute to Dame Rosemary.
"She was a fine academic and administrator and, above all, a remarkable human being.
"She has not only left behind physical reminders of her contribution to Cambridge, her legacy is the countless people throughout the world who have been inspired and influenced by her knowledge, insight and overriding warmth," she said.
After studying at Oxford, Dame Rosemary taught chemistry at both Royal Holloway College and Sheffield University.
She joined the Admiralty Signals Department on the outbreak of the Second World War and at the end of the conflict she joined Cambridge as a demonstrator in chemistry at Girton College.
When women at Cambridge University achieved full degree status in 1948, she began to take an active part in the meetings of the Third Foundation for Women.
She went on to found New Hall and the college became a centre for women at a time when Cambridge had a low proportion of women undergraduates.
Dame Rosemary went on to became president of the college and remained in the post until retiring in 1981.
Away from the university, she spent 30 years as a justice of the peace and became the first woman to be a deputy lieutenant of the county.
At the Chelsea Flower Show earlier this year a new rose was named in her honour.