Bumper birthday weekend

This weekend would have marked the 90th birthday of Sir Kenneth Berrill, University Pro-Chancellor 1983-96, who died in April last year. Following 20 years as a university economics lecturer, Berrill was appointed chair of the University Grants Committee in 1969 and then Chief Economic Advisor at the Treasury. After a brief spell in the City, during which he had taken up the Open University’s Pro-Chancellorship, he became chairman of the Securities and Investment Board, the precursor of the Financial Services Authority.

 The Daily Telegraph reports: The assignment exposed him from the start to hostility from market participants…Hindsight might argue that Berrill’s approach to policing the financial sector might have made it a safer place for investors’ and depositors’ money in the long term, but at the height of the 1980s boom he was out of tune with the prevailing mood.’

As well as the honour of giving his name to one of the main buildings at the OU’s Walton Hall campus, Berrill was also heavily involved in the Universities Superannuation Scheme – the pension scheme for university staff now under attack alongside other public pension schemes. The appropriateness of holding union meetings to defend the scheme in the lecture theatre bearing Berrill’s name has not gone unnoted.

This weekend would also have marked the 80th birthday of Ralph Smith, the University’s first Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning) who stepped in as Acting Vice-Chancellor when Walter Perry was on study leave. A professor of mathematics, Smith was one of Perry’s first appointments who helped with the early financial planning for the University. He died in 1998.

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