Which academic has inspired you?

April 29, 2005

Most of The Times Higher awards will mark institutional successes, but one will celebrate an individual's contribution to the sector, writes John O'Leary. The criteria have been drawn as widely as possible so that the award can honour not only the famous, but those whose dedication would otherwise be known only to colleagues.

The award is for Lifetime Achievement, but that does not imply that consideration will be restricted to octogenarians. Many serving academics and administrators win the admiration of their peers well in advance of retirement. Some, indeed, have already been nominated.

In the long-established Teacher of the Year awards, serving head teachers have been honoured in the past two years, and a classroom teacher the year before that. All have been inspiring individuals without being well-known outside their locality.

This may be the case in The Times Higher awards as well. Alternatively, the winner may come from the ranks of those whose contribution to academic life has brought national or international fame.

There surely would have been few complaints if, in a previous year, the award had gone to a figure such as Sir Isaiah Berlin, for example.

Unlike the other Times Higher awards, which will be judged by panels of experts, the Lifetime Achievement award is in the gift of the editor. This is because of the inevitably subjective nature of the comparison, but the intention is to canvass other judges' opinions before a final decision is made.

As with all other Times Higher awards, nominations will close on June 30.

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