Professor J.E. (Teddy) Thomas, 1933-2023

August 10th, 2023

Former Dean of the Faculty of Education and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the university, Professor J.E. (Teddy) Thomas, passed away aged 89 on Tuesday 11 July 2023.

A major figure in adult education nationally and internationally, he served as Reader and later Robert Peers Professor of Adult Education at the University of Nottingham, as well as Deputy Head and Head of the Department of Adult Education.

He was also a leading figure in the university more broadly: both Dean of the Faculty of Education and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university from 1990 to 1994.

An excellent scholar – he was awarded a higher doctorate (D.Litt.) by the University of Nottingham – he had sixteen books and many articles and chapters to his name.

Also a firm advocate of research in adult and lifelong education, he worked tirelessly for SCUTREA (the Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults), chairing it during the early 1980s – as well as helping to co-found the International Journal of Lifelong Education, editing it for its first seventeen years.

He campaigned energetically for university adult education, not only in the East Midlands but nationally, as a member of the Universities Council for Adult Education.

Teddy began his career in the British Colonial Service (in what is now Zambia); from Africa he moved to the prison service in Britain.

After taking up a post in the adult education department at Hull University, he moved to Nottingham in 1979 as Reader and Deputy Head of the Department of Adult Education.

His attitude to research made his appointment particularly welcome.

Alongside his predecessor as Robert Peers Professor and Head of Department, Michael Stephens, he contributed much to developing adult education as a strong field of university study and research.

In particular, the university’s Department of Adult Education became a leading publisher in the field. Teddy was key to this, as one of a triumvirate of editors (with Michael Stephens and Kenneth Lawson) of the book series, ‘Nottingham Studies in the Theory and Practice of the Education of Adults’.

An event to celebrate Professor Thomas’ life will be held on Wednesday 23 August 2023 at 2pm at the Church of Holy Rood, Village Street, Edwalton, NG12 4AB.

This will be followed by a late lunch and refreshments.

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One Comment

November 8th, 2023 at 4:35 pm

Rod Turner

Teddy Thomas was my tutor during my part-time Diploma in Adult Education at Nottingham University 1978 – 80.
I was working in education within the”total institution” system fistly at Rampton Hospital, and then at HMB Everthorpe. Teddy made both myself – and another prison service colleague on the course – very welcome. He encouraged and supported us to recognise the value of an “adult” approach to teaching and learning for students whatever their ability levels or previous educational “failings”. Some of their “failings” were by the education system itself. We appreciated his “that’s fine, fine” comments when we tried to be even vaguely innovative. He also urged us not be “overawed” by the academic approach of many of our fellow course students. Rod Turner (eventually Regional Education Officer HM Prison Service)

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