July 21st, 2020
The University is saddened to hear of the recent death of Dr Christine Humfrey, the founding Director of the International Office.
In this obituary some of her former colleagues pay tribute to her vision and pioneering work in internationalisation across the sector.
The University of Nottingham’s enviable reputation as a truly global university is, in so many ways, built on the work of Dr Christine Humfrey (née Shinn), the founding Director of the International Office who sadly passed away on July 10th 2020.
Following an Undergraduate degree in English from the University of Reading, Christine gained a Masters and a PhD from Nottingham at the same time as she worked for the University. When she was awarded her PhD in 1979 few could have anticipated the ways in which she be able to use her vision, enterprise and energy to enable the University (and indeed the sector) to reinvent its approach to engagement with the rest of the world.
From the early 1980s, when the UK’s fee regime for international students dramatically changed, she led a transformation in international higher education at the University and was at the forefront of internationalisation across the sector. Nottingham’s International Office was one of the first of its kind within the sector and was distinctive because of its integration of recruitment and partnerships with student welfare and well-being. Christine pioneered the idea of holistic internationalisation, something which is now the norm across higher education. Generations of students were touched by Christine’s humanity, by her kindness and her absolute commitment to creating an environment in which they could thrive. It was not just students whose life she changed – her energy, enthusiasm and commitment made a difference to so many colleagues and we are proud to count ourselves amongst those whose lives, careers and thinking were so positively impacted by her inspirational leadership.
Christine played a vital role in enhancing the university’s international student community – especially through the development of its ground-breaking scholarship programmes – most notably the flagship “Developing Solutions” programme which, over a 10 year period, benefited some 850 students from 32 countries in the developing world. She contributed immeasurably to the establishment of the University’s ground-breaking campuses in Malaysia and China, championing both of these ventures within the University and to the international higher education community more broadly. In 2008, shortly after she retired from the University, she was awarded an MBE for her services to higher education, science and regional development.
Retirement was an opportunity to spend more time with her husband, Michael and her close friend and former colleague, Janet. But it was certainly not an occasion for rest; rather it opened a new chapter in Christine’s life. She was appointed as a Special Professor in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, giving her the opportunity to teach, research and write on the process of internationalising higher education. And her services were much sought after by other Universities, by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and by government. She was an active consultant, undertaking a range of projects related to international higher education. Yet she still managed to find time to serve as a JP and to pursue her dream of writing and publishing short stories, including a highly commended entry in an alumni short story competition.
Christine may have left us all too early and too young, but her legacy lives on in all that we, and so many others, have been able to achieve because of the way in which she inspired us all.
Caryl Thompson (University of Nottingham 1991-2011, latterly Director of Recruitment and Admissions)
Christine Ennew (University of Nottingham 1987-2016, latterly PVC International and Provost UNMC)
Vincenzo Raimo (University of Nottingham 1998-2014, latterly Director of the International Office)
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