Contested histories 3

August 29, 2003

Not all authors of official university histories encounter difficulties.

Along with the university archivist Carole McCallum, I wrote the history of Glasgow Caledonian University, published in 1998.

The university was partly formed from Glasgow College of Technology, established in 1971. This had a short, turbulent history with its first three directors/principals either resigning or being sacked plus a computer disaster. The other component part, a 19th-century college, also had plenty of skeletons in the cupboard.

Nevertheless, we were encouraged to write a frank official history. There was no hint of editorial oversight, despite the fact that I was a notorious dissident in the university committee system. We were not even required to submit any of the drafts for vetting. The book was anything but a public relations work. However, the university distributed it and, in our view, benefited from the honesty.

Willie Thompson

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