Tributes paid to Baroness Brenda Dean

Colleagues have paid tribute to Baroness Brenda Dean, who died last week (March 2018).

Baroness Dean served as a member of the University Council from 2012. She was also Honorary President of Women in Nottingham, supporting Prof Marion Walker, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), in her work on Athena SWAN and the broader EDI agenda.

“Baroness Brenda Dean was a truly inspirational lady,” Professor Walker said. “She worked with staff at all levels and provided her unstinting support for gender equality through her membership on University Council.

“Brenda was a very resilient woman who fought hard for her beliefs; always unafraid of tackling difficult areas. She was passionate about many things and provided her full support to the causes she believed in. The Women in Nottingham will miss her wise counsel, her boundless energy and support and I will personally miss her much valued friendship and mentorship.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West added: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Brenda. While I had only the brief pleasure of working with her as an esteemed member of our University Council, her vitality and enthusiasm never failed to impress me. Her devotion to our University community of staff and students was evident in all of her work.

“Brenda’s contribution to our University was informed by a long and successful career in public service. My thoughts are very much with her family and friends.”

Former Vice Chancellor Professor Sir David Greenaway shared his memories of working with Baroness Dean.

“As a leader and role model, Brenda Dean was way ahead of her time. She led the print union at a time of great change; and Chaired the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, a quintessentially male dominated profession. I was genuinely privileged to work with and learn from Brenda on the AFPRB, and of course on the University Council.

“Good judgement is a very rare quality, and Brenda’s judgement was exquisite; when she spoke, everyone listened. On a personal level, Brenda was a keynote speaker at a Public Policy Conference at Nottingham in my honour in September 2017. At the time that felt really special, now I understand just how special it was. I will miss her.”

John Mills, Chair of Council, added: “Brenda had a warmth and vibrancy that made an impression on all who had the good fortune to spend time with her. Combining those qualities with a sharp mind and a great understanding of people from whatever background ensured she made a remarkable contribution to everything she invested her time in.

“I will miss her advice and the balance and common sense she brought to Council and our University. In my last conversation with her she reflected on how important supporting the University of Nottingham was to her and we should be proud of that, and of knowing her.”

Baroness Dean was awarded an honorary degree – Doctor of Laws – at the University in July 2000. In the oration, Professor Nick Manning, then Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy, now Emeritus Professor, said:

“Brenda Dean is an outstanding example to those of you graduating today, for it is the energy and application of our skills that are essential to becoming effective colleagues. She has the reputation of being a highly effective contributor to her many and varied public duties.

“Without these special qualities so generously given by her, and people like her, the public life of this country would be immeasurably the poorer.”

Brenda was created a Life Peer The Rt Hon. the Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde in 1993 and a member of the Privy Council in 1998.

Her many current appointments included Partnership Non-Executive Director of National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Group Board Director of Places for People. She was Vice‑President of the War Widows Association and President of Abbeyfield Society Charity. Brenda was also a Trustee of the Thomson Foundation and of University College Hospital Cancer Charity. Her past appointments included that of Chairman of the Housing Corporation, Chairman of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and President of the College of Occupational Therapy, member of the Royal Commission on the Future of the House of Lords and the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Brenda was a member of the National Committee of Inquiry into the Future of Higher Education – the Dearing Committee. She has been a Council member of City University, London, the Open University and the London School of Economics. She was a strong advocate for the University, Nottingham and higher education generally in the House of Lords.

She started her working life in the trade union movement and was subsequently elected General Secretary Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT), the printing, publishing and paper trades union.

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