The most memorable events of 2006: Academics list their personal top fives

December 22, 2006

Lisa Jardine Director, Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Queen Mary, University of London

* The most memorable event in 2006 for me had to be the recovery of the 600-page Hooke Folio - handwritten notes by the great scientist, architect, surveyor and experimentalist Robert Hooke - lost since 1703, and bought for £1 million for the Royal Society at auction in March. It's certainly the most important archival discovery of my career and a major milestone for the Royal Society

* Gordon Brown's pre-Budget announcement that primary and secondary school education would be a Treasury priority for the coming year. I still believe in "education, education, education", and I am absolutely committed, as an active school governor, to building schools for the future

* The success of the Democrats in America's mid-term elections in November, which gave them a majority in Congress and the Senate. My family all live in the US, and I hope this revival in Democrat fortunes, with subsequent changes in US policy, will begin to counteract the depressing extent of anti-American (but really largely anti-Bush) feeling in the UK

* Kylie Minogue's triumphant return to the stage to complete the tour she was forced to abandon in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer

* The opening of the new Arsenal Emirates Stadium at Ashburton Grove - one sporting "hurray!" in a year dominated by disappointments and gloom.

Bill Ashraf Senior lecturer in microbiology, School of Life Sciences, Bradford University

* Student tuition fees. Ouch! This year's key issue: for students, staff and just about everyone. The media couldn't get enough of the topic; university managers everywhere couldn't get enough students and the academics couldn't get a word in edgeways

* Pay dispute. Double ouch! Twenty-five per cent of salary cut and a big headache. Principles never did come cheap thoughI

* The new blonde Bond. Gritty, fearless, cynical and tough enough to cope with being tortured. But could the new Bond hack it in academia? The chair scene was a metaphor for the pay dispute, but with Eva Green as the new accountancy poster-girl, maybe the bean-counters have it right, after all

* The tipping point. This year's buzzword. It seems we're at tipping point for just about everything, from the climate to the economy: the National Health Service, academic freedom and anything else you can think off. My personal tipping point is usually somewhere around my fifth bottle of beer

* MBA-ed. I added an MBA to my BSc and a science PhD. I might not look like a suit, but I can talk like one now.

Paloma Gay y Blasco Lecturer in social anthropology St Andrews University

* St Andrews turning down the local pay offer during the strike - brilliant, fantastic, it felt great

* War in Lebanon - the image of a mother being separated from her young children when her boat was leaving. There wasn't space for the children, so they stayed behind with the father and she ended up in northern Europe

* Consolidation of the Left in Latin America, for example, Hugo Ch vez's victory. This fills me with hope

* My mother getting the first job of her life at the age of 62 years, being promoted and doubling her salary in two months

* The Madrid Government bulldozing the Roma ghetto where I do my research.

Paul Mackney Joint general secretary University and College Union

* Being advised by my consultant that I shouldn't stand for UCU general secretary and deciding to back Roger Kline for the post

* Watching my daughter Ruby Sewell create her website www.myspace.com/rubysewell after success with her music course at City and IslingtonCollege

* Seeing my granddaughter Thea Mackney for the first time

* Bob Dylan with his finger on the pulse saying on his new album Modern Times : "The world of research has gone berserk - too much paperwork"!

* Labour's Christmas present to migrant workers - a two-thirds cut in the provision of English for speakers of other languages (Esol).

Kel Fidler Vice-chancellor Northumbria University

* Having both my knees replaced in February and April, and the long road to recovery that has followed

* Seeing Chicago in London - a fine musical

* Laying the foundation stone for Northumbria's £100 million buildings for law, design and business in Newcastle's city centre

* Enjoying a seafood platter at Jersey Pottery in August

* Escaping to Madeira for Christmas at the end of a long and hard semester.

Frank Furedi School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, Kent University

* In April, I gave the inaugural lecture for the International Public Lecture Series at the University of Sydney. In the middle of talking about "Can Our Belief in Humanity Survive the 21st Century?" I realised that I had to write a book on a subject that I had subconsciously avoided - terrorism

* Diving in the Great Barrier Reef provided my most intense physical experience of the year. It is impossible to forget the intense whiteness of everything

* Giving a paper at the American Sociological Association meeting in August in Montreal. But what I remember is sneaking off with a couple of friends I grew up with, but whom I hadn't seen in 30 years, and finally realising why I have such a crude sense of humour

* Holiday in a small village on Lake Balaton in Hungary, where I had the most memorable meal of my life at the Harskert Restaurant: grilled goose liver with spinach and marjoram potatoes

* Feeling confused and angry about disciplinary boundaries after reading Roy Porter's Gibbon: Making History . Also amazed by Edward Gibbon's insights.

Sue Thomas Professor of new mediaDe Montfort University

* Howard Rheingold's keynote speech on the new Commons of participatory media, at the launch of the Institute of Creative Technology

* Richard Mabey's new book, Nature Cure : inspiring, revelatory and yet highly pragmatic

* Commander-in-Chief - a television series that shows how one woman juggles the demands of three kids with the role of America's first female President. Tips and tricks for working parents everywhere

* Eating black grapes that I grew myself on my fifth-floor balcony

* The first year of our online MA in creative writing and new media. Amazingly, we have almost managed to humanise Blackboard.

Boris Johnson MP Conservative Shadow Higher Education Minister

I will never forget the moment when

* I heard Bill Rammell's spectacular semi-U-turn on the research assessment exercise

* Conservative leader David Cameron broke the 40 per cent barrier in the opinion polls

* I bought a flat-screen TV

* I tried, failed, then finally succeeded in making the flat-screen TV work

* I turned it on to watch England's magnificent loss to Portugal in the World Cup.

Barry Sheerman MP Chair, Education and Skills Select Committee

* Nobody would have predicted that the Education and Inspections Bill would dominate the political agenda right through to final completion in the summer. Our report made a crucial difference to the content of the Bill

* The successful introduction of variable fees. They seem to have been introduced fairly smoothly and successfully along with the grants and bursaries that go with them. It was a tight-run thing, and we feel proud and justified that we did what was right for the future of higher education

* One highlight of my education year was the visit to the Blue School in Bath and Wells. We were looking at citizenship. There's huge involvement of the pupils in the school - it was Athenian democracy in practice

* I have been at the forefront of the anti-smoking campaign to get protection of workers' health. Next year, there will be smoke-free environments in most places where people work, live and enjoy them-selves

* This was the year of my new grandson, Jude, born to my daughter Madlin Sadler. That was the highlight of my year.

Tony McEnery Director of research Arts and Humanities Research Council

* Visiting mosques in the high Atlas mountains and pre-Sahara on a research trip to Morocco. At each mosque and village we visited, we received a warm and gracious welcome

* A tour behind the scenes at the palace museum in Taipei. It was wonderful to get such a privileged and up-close view of so many beautiful objects

* Watching a showing of the Edwardian films of Mitchell and Kenyon at the Cornerhouse Cinema in Manchester. Apart from being proud that the AHRC had supported the work, I was deeply moved to watch a young boy and girl watch film after film in spellbound silence

* Giving evidence to the Lords' Science and Technology Committee on the subject of Science and Heritage. The debate was of a very high quality and was a pleasure to engage in

* Working in the summer at the New York Public Library. A mixture of archival research and the cultural distractions of New York is a winning one for me.

Martin Daunton Master of Trinity Hall and professor of economic history, Cambridge University, and president of the Royal Historical Society

* Signing a declaration of friendship with the mayor of Guegon in Brittany on donating the old Trinity Hall organ - and then the inauguration of the new organ at Trinity Hall

* The performance of Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne - a magical dark-hued production

* Visiting the Zen garden at Nanzen-ji in Kyoto on a perfect autumn day (which was also a reminder of the need to be more contented and in harmony with nature)

* Visiting the new gallery of the J. P. Morgan library in New York, where in one room could be seen the manuscripts of a Beethoven symphony, a Dickens' novel, a Schumber song - and so many other astonishing things, in a wonderful new building byRenzo Piano

* The honorary degree for the Prime Minister of India at Cambridge, who spoke so well of the issues of globalisation facing the world today.

Bill Macmillan Vice-chancellorUniversity of East Anglia

* The privilege of being appointed vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia in September 2006

* UEA's strong performance in the National Student Survey

* Norwich's hosting the BA Festival of Science and breaking attendance records

* Publication of the Stern report

* The birth of my grandson.

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