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Gordon Lawrence: 1923-2011

A genuine friend to many and a wonderful citizen

gordon_lawrence1.jpgGordon Lawrence, Principal of Coventry Training College of Education and first Director of the Institute of Education, was recruited in 1967 from Leeds Institute of Education - initially as Vice-Principal. His role was to develop the new BEd courses which were to be validated by the University. In this capacity he was very persuasive and actively encouraged the 1965-69 cohort of BEd undergraduates to aim high.

Warwick alumnus David Bishop (BEd 1965-69) remembered that ’he never underestimated our potential and fought hard to ensure that new Warwick BEd degree should be fully classified’.

In 1975 Gordon became Principal of the College and following the merger of the College with the University of Warwick in 1978 he was the first Director of the new Institute of Education, remaining in post until his retirement in 1984.

Under Gordon’s guidance the Faculty of Education continued to be innovative and successful with the first Higher Degree being offered in 1980. Gordon enjoyed his time at Warwick and was always a staunch supporter of the Westwood Former Students’ Association. His interest, guidance and enthusiasm continued throughout his retirement.

This ensured that the Association merged seamlessly with the Warwick Graduates’ Association in 1998 so that today thousands of trained teachers enjoy a close relationship with the University of Warwick.

In his retirement Gordon was Academic Secretary of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers from 1984-88 during which time, along with a former colleague, George Raper, he worked with the London Stock Exchange developing a scheme providing bursaries and workplace experience for PGCE Physics trainee teachers.

Gordon was a governor of Worcester Sixth Form College between 1989 and 2004, serving as Chairman from 1991 until 2000. He is well remembered by John Treadwell, former Principal, Worcester Sixth Form College for his skills in ‘focusing on the important and tolerated but not animated, by the routine!’

Privately Gordon was a devoted family man, showing a great devotion and loyalty for his first wife, Audrey, during her final illness. He subsequently enjoyed 19 years of happiness with his second wife, Julia and built up a strong relationship with his two stepdaughters, Alice and Charlotte.

Jim Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Education, describes Gordon’s special characteristics:

The thing I remember most about Gordon was his unfailing kindness, to colleagues and students, his modesty and his apparently inexhaustible charm. I recall how, as a young newly appointed lecturer, I found him genuinely concerned that I should settle into the College and o­ffering me all the support and advice that he could. He was a great host at parties, mixing a mean gin and tonic and creating a sociable and friendly atmosphere.

Looking back I guess Gordon was Director of the Institute of Education at a difficult time – a time of uncertainty for the College, its sta­ff and its students and it is a great tribute to his judgement and fabled charm that the transition of the College to a Faculty of Education in one of the most innovative universities in the country, worked out so well. Like those who knew him, I remember him with a­ffection and gratitude.