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Bulletin - 5 October 2007

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Stephen Medcalf

Stephen Medcalf, Emeritus Reader in English, died on 17 September at the age of 70. He will be greatly missed.

After undergraduate and graduate study at Oxford and a brief spell as a schoolmaster, he taught at Sussex from 1963 until his retirement in 2002.

Passionately committed to Sussex and its pioneering of interdisciplinary study, particularly in the old School of European Studies, he taught and published over a very wide range, interested not just in ancient, medieval and modern literatures but in religion, philosophy, cosmology and the history of science.

He was an outstanding and stimulating teacher who believed in teaching not books but students, responding generously to individual interests and needs and disposed to find value in even the most unpromising work.

He could be an enthralling lecturer, effortlessly supplying extensive and telling quotations in several languages from memory, so absorbed in his subject that he could take off a shoe to remove a small stone without ever faltering in his delivery or being aware of what he was doing.

Famously eccentric, at times chaotic, he nevertheless faithfully and effectively chaired the English Subject Group (as it then was) and was a mainstay of the Meeting House and of the University’s academic community.

Professor Norman Vance

David Wall, former Reader in Economics, died on 16 August at the age of 66. David joined Sussex in 1965 and stayed until 1996.

A development economist, he was far ‘ahead of the curve’ in seeing how global trends – in economics and in the economy – would change the requirements for economics at Sussex, and indeed in Britain. He was active and effective in helping the University and the profession to adapt.

While his initial area of specialism was Latin America, he was in the vanguard of those who anticipated, and helped Sussex and economics to adapt to, the opening and expansion of China. From the 1980s he trained a succession of doctoral students at Sussex, and formed links to some of today’s leading Chinese economists.

In his later years David moved increasingly from economics towards international-relations issues, and started working on new areas: central Asia and North Korea. As with China, he sought both to develop contacts and to prepare British thinkers for the inevitable large changes that will come with economic opening.

As a teacher, David is fondly remembered by many students (including over 20 DPhils) as patient, informed and often inspiring. He helped many new arrivals, first from Latin America and later from Africa and especially China, to adapt to quite different conditions of both life and study. His successes are embodied in many women and men who carry forward his work and analytical spirit around the world.

Professor Michael Lipton

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