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In Memoriam: Elsie Robinson

Elsie RobinsonThe University is sad to announce the death of Elsie Robinson ('Robbie') who died on Friday 13 December after a short illness. Elsie was the Vice-principal of Coventry College of Education from 1965 until its merger with the University of Warwick in 1978 when she became the Appointments Tutor for the Institute of Education. She was also Warden of Westwood at the University.

She will be sadly missed by her friends at the University, in the Local Support Group for The Joe Homan Charity, and in The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Elsie Robinson (1929-2013): A Tribute

Elsie Robinson (‘Miss Robinson’) was appointed Vice-Principal at the Coventry College of Education in 1965 after teaching Science in both secondary and further education and following a period in education administration in Essex. Thirteen years after her arrival the College underwent a major change. The government wanted teacher training to be attached to larger units and this meant amalgamations, mergers or closure. Coventry Local Education Authority changed direction several times in the decision as to whether to merge the College with the University of Warwick or the then Lanchester Polytechnic.

In 1978, the former College of Education became the university’s fourth faculty, the Faculty of Educational Studies containing the departments of Arts Education, Science Education, Physical Education and a large Education Department. In addition a separate Institute was created, responsible for the University’s contacts with schools and other educational organisations. After the merger Miss Robinson was made the Appointments Tutor within the Institute helping fourth year BA (QTS) and PGCE students find their first teaching posts. She was also actively involved in promoting student welfare mainly through her role as Resident Tutor of Dunsmere and Warden of all Westwood residences.

Nothing was too much trouble for Miss Robinson. Her students were very fond of her and she earned the gratitude and respect of a wide range of staff with whom she was in contact. Until her retirement in 1997 Miss Robinson always lived on campus and was a well-known character about the University and local neighbourhood. Accompanied by her dog, she could be seen every morning, at around 7am collecting empty cans from the campus. Dedicated to the environment she firmly believed that nothing should be wasted and with the money raised from recycling the cans she was able to pay for five guide dogs. She was Life Member of the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind.

She collected kitchenware left in residences at the end of the year, washed it and then held a sale at the start of the new academic year. She also collected discarded drinks glasses and sold them back to the Student Union bars. The money raised was sent to Third World children’s charities. One in particular was the Joe Homan Charity which raises funds for children who are growing up in poverty or vulnerable to exploitation in South India and Thailand. Miss Robinson was made an Honorary Member in recognition of her work for the charity.

From 1986 - 1997 Miss Robinson was the Staff Representative on the Committee of the Former Students’ Association – her final gesture being the Exhibition Co-ordinator for the 50th Anniversary of Teacher Training at Coventry/ Warwick, which took place soon after her official retirement.

During her professional career Miss Robinson was always mindful of the importance of recording the development of the College/Institute of Education. She began to create the Westwood Archives and following her retirement worked tirelessly with the Modern Records Centre where the archives are now based. Those responsible for the 65th Anniversary of Teacher Training in 2013 were very appreciative of her thorough approach to the conservation of the history of Education at Coventry/Warwick.

Tribute compiled and written by Juliet Amery, Alumni Education Representative