Doctorate and book offers at a youthful 85

September 22, 2006

An octogenarian awarded a PhD by Manchester University has been inundated with offers to write journal articles and give lectures.

Ronald Lipman, 85, says his thesis on the transportation of the black Jews of Ethiopia to Israel and their problems integrating into modern Jewish society has raised so much interest that there is even the prospect of him writing a book on the subject.

The retired jeweller said he was almost as shocked by the level of attention he received from learned societies and journals as he was to gain his doctorate.

"When I was told I had got my PhD, I was dumbstruck and found it hard to believe. Since then, I have hardly had time to breathe between calls from people who want me to write articles or to give lectures."

Dr Lipman had never set foot in a university until, bored by retirement, he joined an honours course in painting and sculpture at Leeds Metropolitan University in 1994.

He found the experience so stimulating that he later signed up for a masters in Jewish history at Leeds University, which led him to start his PhD six years ago.

He said: "I signed up for the MA at Leeds because it was the only course going. Although I am Jewish, I had little knowledge of Jewish history. But I soon become very interested."

His supervisor at Manchester, Philip Alexander, described him as "very quick witted and a joy to supervise." Professor Alexander, who is co-director of the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester, said that although it was unusual for someone of Dr Lipman's age to sign up for a course, PhD students of retirement age were becoming increasingly common.

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