March 9th, 2020
Nottingham’s first female professor, a globally renowned scholar poet and a champion of women’s education are set to be honoured in one of the University’s newest buildings – but you can decide how.
Monica Partridge, Meena Alexander and Helena Brownsword Dowson were among the list of more than 100 suggestions of inspirational women when we announced plans to rename the Teaching and Learning Building.
The Teaching and Learning Building will be named for the woman with the most votes and rooms within the building will be dedicated to the two runners up.
Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, explained: “We were overwhelmed with the response to our call and to have so many inspirational names to choose from. It is clear that from the very beginnings of the University a huge number of women have been influential and pioneering figures, shaping the institution we know today.
“Monica Partridge, Meena Alexander and Helena Brownsword Dowson made an impact in very different ways but all contributed to teaching and learning. I encourage everyone to read more about their achievements below and vote on who they would like to see the building named for.”
The long list of names will now be put forward for future building names on campus as part of the University’s commitment to equality and diversity in its estate.
Meena Alexander (1951-2018) was a multi award-winning poet and scholar. Born in India, she moved to Sudan with her family, and then to England where she began a PhD in Romantic Literature at the University of Nottingham. She completed her PhD aged 22 with a dissertation that she would later develop and publish as ‘The Poetic Self’. After her studies, Meena taught at universities in India and the United States. She became a globally-renowned writer and gained many awards for her published works, which included a number of essays, eight books of poetry and two novels.
Helena Brownsword Dowson
Helena Brownsword Dowson (1866-1964) was an early 20th century educationalist, member of the Council of University College Nottingham and champion of women’s education who dedicated her life to fighting for girls to have the same educational and employment opportunities as boys.
In 1896 Helena became Secretary of the Nottingham Women’s Suffrage Society. She was also a member of the national Executive Committee, and was one of the first two women in Nottingham to become magistrates – serving in this role from 1920 to 1950. She was also the first woman to become a Nottingham City Councillor, elected in 1920 to represent The Meadows.
Monica Partridge (1915-2008) was the University of Nottingham’s first woman professor and a leader in Slavonic and European studies.
Professor Partridge read French at University College, Nottingham, before becoming interested in Russian during World War II. She joined Nottingham University College’s Department of Slavonic Languages as a tutorial assistant in 1947 and became an Assistant Lecturer in 1967. She established close links with universities in Slovenia and Croatia, paving the way for Nottingham students to study in Ljubljana and Zagreb.
She retired in 1980 and was made an Emeritus Professor of The University of Nottingham. In the same year her achievements were recognised internationally, with the Order of the Yugoslav Flag with a Gold Star for her promotion of Yugoslav studies in Britain. Monica died in 2008, leaving a generous legacy to the department in her will. The Partridge Bequest Fund continues to support students and staff in activities that enable contact with Russia and the Slavonic world.
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