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Neil has the distinction of being the very first graduate of the OU to be awarded his PhD in 1973. A history thesis called "The Afro-American and the Second World War", the study was the start of a career that took him across the Atlantic and introduced him to involvement in radio and TV documentaries. The child of a British army family he was born in The Netherlands but moved around to England and Germany until the family settled in Scotland. He went to a state secondary school in Edinburgh and found a perverse inspiration in proving his teacher wrong and succeeding in getting into Edinburgh University to study history. He was... the first in his family to complete an undergraduate degree, achieving an MA in History specialising in American history. It was there he met his mentor and one of the founding academics of the OU, Arthur Marwick, who asked him to become his postgraduate student, which Neil describes as lifechanging. Like many of this cohort, the PhD experience was sometimes a bit lonely as there were so few of them at that time, so Neil made friendships with university staff and got involved in writing undergraduate courses, teaching at OU summer schools and making appearances on OU TV programmes. He spent an inspiring year as a research assistant at the University at Buffalo, New York in the United States as part of his PhD, able to see first-hand the consequences of race riots and racial prejudice in the US. He speaks with reverence about his nervous realisation that his graduation was going to be filmed by the BBC and of his extreme terror on the day, not least his memory of sitting with Baroness Jennie Lee. He continued his passion for delivering higher education to a broader range of students by working at the, then, new Glamorgan Polytechnic, now the University of South Wales, teaching history and American Studies until moving to the University of Gloucestershire in 2003 where he remained until his retirement as an Emeritus Professor in 2017.
Metadata describing this interview
Title: Professor Neil Wynn Interview
Interviewer: Elizabeth Currie
Abstract: Neil Wynn introduces himself, shares his memories of the OU in its infancy, and recounts his experiences thrghouout his career in New York, Milton Keynes, and Wales and at the University of Gloucestershire. Wynn also discusses his childhood, and family life during his PhD study and career.
Date of interview: 08-04-21
Interview duration: 00:45:22
Recording type: Video interview
Rights statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: Contact the OU Archive prior to any re-use. Contact
Available to public: no