Scholarly waves across the Mersey

April 5, 1996

For The THES to describe us (THES, March 29) as an "intellectual backwater" smacks of misplaced intellectual snobbery. Liverpool Hope, like other church colleges, makes a substantial contribution to intellectual life.

This part of the sector provides not only quality but also diversity, a much-invoked phrase which actually has meaning when applied to Liverpool Hope's ecumenism, its outreach and access programmes in Merseyside and its unique contribution, through the Hope One World group, to education in two different continents. Through its founding colleges, what is now Liverpool Hope opened up access to higher education and employment in a profession for women in the Northwest 150 years ago. Throughout that century and a half, as the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University have also become established, we have continued to be an intellectual powerhouse. Even in Simon Targett's terms, the two senior posts which we have filled since my appointment (Dr Susan O'Brian to a pro-rectorship and Dr Ian Markham to a chair in theology) suggest that the Mersey is far from being an intellectual backwater and the staff here have long since been making scholarly waves. Although your sub-editing claims that I told Simon Targett why I "gave up a law chair" to come to Liverpool Hope, I am pleased to report that I have gained rather than lost chairs since Queen's University Belfast has kindly made me an emeritus professor, the University of Liverpool has made me an honorary professor and I have also succeeded Sir David Calcutt QC as Gresham professor of law.

Finally, it was the unanimous decision of our governing council, with the unanimous support of our academic board, which changed the title to Liverpool Hope University College, not a personal whim. Hope Street links the two cathedrals in Liverpool, the Sisters of Notre Dame began their work in the adjacent Mount Pleasant. The great theological virtue of hope represents our ecumenism and our widening of access to higher education.

SIMON LEE Rector and chief executive Liverpool Hope University College

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