Archive for January, 2013

University of the Chair

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

To mark the Diamond Jubilee Her Majesty the Queen has bestowed upon the Open University a Regius Professorship in Open Education.  See here: It is one of  twelve prestigious new posts. These accolades have been awarded since 1540. Previously the professorships were concentrated in seven universities, those of Aberdeen, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, St Andrews and Trinity College Dublin. The University of Glasgow has 13, Oxford 8 and Cambridge has 7. Two such Regius chairs were created to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and before that Queen Victoria created one.  There are only 44 Regius professorships in the UK and Ireland. 

In this case universities applied for the Jubilee professorships before a panel of academics led by Graeme Davies, chairman of the Higher Education Policy Institute. The panel will advise ministers who then made recommendations to the Queen.

The first Regius  Professor  in Open Education at the OU will be Professor Eileen Scanlon, who has worked for the OU for over 37 years. Providing a chair which recognises the importance of educational tchnology is a particularly fitting way of marking the 50th anniversary of the announcement of a ‘University of the Air’.

Running the OU

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Towards the end of 1973, immediately following the completion of his degree at Cambridge –where he was awarded a Blue for Cross Country, Les Irvine started work within the OU Student Computing Service at Walton Hall.  A keen runner he had competed for Scotland as a Junior in the ‘International’, the predecessor of the World Cross Country Championships, and he started to arrange runs from the Walton Hall campus.  He also ran between his workplace and his home 6.5 miles away in Wolverton. He only came to work on the bus on Mondays, when he brought in clean clothes and on he returned home by bus with the dirty ones each Friday. A couple of years later in 1975 Mick Bromilow joined the OU as a Course Assistant  in Mathematics. Initially he lodged with Les. He started to run to and from work with Les. They also did a 10 mile run on Monday lunchtimes. By 1976 Mick had moved to his own home and no longer ran to work from Wolverton. However, he kept running and later went on to chair the Marshall Milton Keynes Athletics Club. In 1977 Les emigrated to Australia. By the 1980s Les found that, following surgery for a congenital heart problem, he was unable to run. He died of a heart attack in the early 1990s. Inspired by his example and his pioneering of new routes around the Walton Hall campus, a group of his friends donated to found the Les Irvine Memorial Trophy for the OU Relay. This annual race is still run, generally in March , to this day.