Vale Geoff Whitty CBE

After a long battle with illness, Professor Geoff Whitty CBE passed away peacefully and surrounded by his family in London on Friday 27 July 2018.

Geoff is best known to colleagues at UON as a founding Global Innovation Chair for Equity in Higher Education. Last month, we recognised Geoff’s outstanding contribution to UON when he was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Education (honoris causa). Over the course of his 50 year career in research, scholarship and practice, Geoff made a significant and profound contribution to his field by improving quality and access to education for communities across the globe.

Professor Geoff Whitty CBE“Geoff was instrumental in the development of CEEHE and remained deeply committed to our work and to the University of Newcastle throughout his illness. He brought with him the wealth of his experience as a scholar and educational leader committed to social justice in education over many decades and he has been a significant influence in many of our lives. We will miss him very much indeed.” Professor Penny Jane Burke, Director, Centre for Excellence of Equity in Higher Education

“Geoff’s impact was profound. He brought vision, insight and leadership to establish UON and our Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) as part of a global network of scholars working to deliver excellence for equity in education.” Professor Caroline McMillen, Vice-Chancellor.

Geoff spent a large part of his career at the Institute of Education (IOE), University College London, including 10 years as Director.

The IOE’s current Director, Professor Becky Francis, said that “Few people have had as great an impact on the education discipline as Geoff Whitty, both through his scholarship, and his institutional leadership roles”, noting also Geoff’s generosity, integrity and fairness.

In a longer appreciation, another of Geoff’s colleagues, Dr Emma Wisby, wrote: “Geoff was a major figure in the field of education – as an academic, through his work on policy, through his engagement ‘on the ground’ with education practitioners and school systems, and as an institutional leader. His influence has been profound, driven by his early experience of teaching in disadvantaged communities, and based in his pursuit of the insights that sociological analysis can bring.  His scholarship opened up the ‘black box’ of educational inequalities. This was for the good of policy and practice, but also, and perhaps more importantly for Geoff, for individuals seeking to make sense of their own experiences. As a colleague and friend he will be deeply missed, but he leaves behind both an important legacy and a hugely valuable resource for those who continue in the task of shaping fairer and more inclusive education systems.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Geoff’s family.