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Hanson was the Director-General of the British Council between 1992 and 1998. Hanson then became the Warden of Green College, University of Oxford from 1998 to 2006. Under his leadership, Green College merged with Templeton College in 2008 to become Green Templeton College, located at what was previously Green College.
Hanson died in London on 13 January 2017 after a short illness, aged 78.