Simon Roodhouse, 1948-2012

May 3, 2012

A leading authority on work-based learning and the creative industries, who aimed to "break down some of the closed-shop attitudes of universities", has died.

Simon Roodhouse was born in the Londesborough rectory, Yorkshire, on 4 January 1948. After attending a secondary modern school in Rugby, he took a foundation course in art at Coventry School of Art and Design and then studied sculpture at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

Although he started his working life as a teacher in Lanark and Sierra Leone, Professor Roodhouse soon shifted into arts administration and then to academia as head of the School of Creative Arts at the University of Northumbria in 1985. This was followed by positions at the Museum Training Institute and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

His broad interests were reflected in posts as dean of the School of Art and Design at the University of Derby (1993-96) and then head of academic development at the University of Leeds (1996-98). A major senior management role followed as the part-time founding chief executive officer of the University Vocational Awards Council for the whole period from 1999 to 2008, which he combined with professorships in creative or cultural industries at the University of Bolton, the University of Greenwich Business School and the University of the Arts, London.

In 2008, Professor Roodhouse established the Creative Industries Journal in conjunction with the University of the Arts. He co-founded HE@Work with John Mumford, a former senior executive at BP, to secure greater recognition for work-based learning within universities. He was also the author of Cultural Quarters: Principles and Practice (2006).

Considered an expert in his field, Professor Roodhouse's work was cited in official initiatives such as the Creative Industries Mapping Document (2001), published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Australian House of Representatives' Inquiry into the Future Opportunities for Australia's Film, Animation, Special Effects and Electronic Games Industries (2004).

For Dr Mumford, Professor Roodhouse was a man whose "arts training made him a very good observer of life. His great passion was to open up higher-level training to people with vocational backgrounds and to break down some of the closed-shop attitudes of universities. He would give whatever time was necessary to exploring ideas."

Professor Roodhouse retired from Middlesex University's Institute for Work Based Learning as emeritus professor in December. He had suffered from multiple system atrophy since 2007 and kept a blog to raise awareness of this rare condition.

He died on 6 April and is survived by his wife Liz, a son, two daughters and five grandchildren.

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