Last week a celebratory lunchtime reception was held in the MBA lounge of Aston Business School to mark the retirement of Aston’s Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor. Staff, both past and present, attended to pay tribute to Professor Graham Hooley and all he has done for Aston University.
Graham’s career has taken him full circle geographically. Born in Birmingham, Graham studied a BSc and PhD at the University of Warwick, before becoming a Lecturer then Senior Lecturer at Bradford University. He moved to New Zealand as a Professor of Marketing at the University of Otago before returning to Birmingham when he joined Aston University as Professor of Marketing and Head of the then Corporate Management Division of Aston Business School (ABS) on 1 November 1990. Graham remained in this role until 1994 when, with the establishment of the new Schools of Studies, he became Director of Research and then Deputy Head of ABS before taking his final position as Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor in August 2003.
Aston’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Julia King, who has described Graham as “very much part of the fabric of what makes Aston such a wonderful place to study and work”, was first to pay tribute to Graham stating that “Graham’s contributions to the University have been many and varied”. His development of the University strategy, his coordination and mentoring of a new PVC team, implementation of a new structure to raise research profile and support research, a new strategy for alumni/development, a major review of LIS, and a more customer-focussed approach for students were cited as a small selection out of a very very long list of achievements for Graham.
David Packham, former University Secretary-Registrar, was next to speak. “Graham has made a major contribution to his academic subject and to Aston Business School and Aston University. The qualities which I see and admire in Graham have stood him in good stead in his career. His determination, his seemingly boundless energy, fairness and humanity have been exemplified in his help to younger academic colleagues. He is a man with a hinterland – that essential component that is needed in the work/life balance, and one which too many of us undervalue under the pressures of work.”
Julia continued: “In spite of all this, Graham has still successfully maintained his personal research profile, and has continued to teach and supervise doctoral and masters student projects, and mentor colleagues. Graham is one of the nicest and most supportive colleagues – he looks for and finds the positive in everyone and everything.”
Graham planted a tree in the courtyard garden of Aston Business School to mark his retirement. He paid tribute to all those he’s worked with at Aston and gave special thanks to his PA Rita Woods who Graham described as his “rock” before reflecting on the University’s future. Graham said “All universities face enormously challenging times ahead and I have every confidence in Aston University going forward. Aston is less dependent on government funding than many other institutions as we have diversified. We are financially sound and focused in our areas of expertise and this is shown in the high student applications we consistently get every year. We now need to make sure we survive in this environment by growing not cutting: the route to success is to innovate, innovate, innovate and this is what Aston is great at!”
Aspects leaves you with the words of David Packham: “Graham, don’t change – but do keep in touch!”
Words by Louise Russell