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Malcolm Walles

Members will be sorry to learn of the death of Dr Malcolm Walles, formerly Lecturer in Politics, on 10 October 2007. Professor Kevin Theakston has contributed the following obituary:

Malcolm Walles spent thirty-two years at the University, working on British politics and American politics, being appointed in 1965 and retiring in 1997. Born in 1935 he completed his BA in Political Economy at the University of Reading in 1956, moving on to London University for his PhD (on the St. Lawrence Seaway: US politics and pressure groups).

Over his career, he worked at five institutions on three continents, always keeping a wide international perspective. From 1959 to 1962 he worked at the London School of Economics as a Research Officer. He then spent three years as a Lecturer in Politics at Monash University in Australia. During his time at Leeds he had two highly successful stints in the United States. He was a Visiting Professor at the City University of New York 1970-72 and a Visiting Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University 1977-79 in each case making a big impact, being highly rated for his teaching, and being asked to stay on for a second year.

At Leeds, he served as a warden in Grant House, Bodington Hall from 1982 to 1989. In what was then the Department of Politics, he was a stalwart, at one time or another doing all the most responsible and time-consuming administrative jobs. One of his most notable contributions was in the setting up and running of the flagship Politics and Parliamentary Studies degree. This included a pioneering combination of international exchanges (with universities in the USA and later Canada) and student placements in the offices of MPs and Congressmen in London, Washington DC and Ottawa. Later he was one of the architects of the Economics, Politics and North American Studies degree scheme, which also involved exchanges with American and Canadian universities. These degrees gave students the sort of international opportunities and experiences he valued so highly.

He collaborated with Professor Harry Hanson on the successful textbook Governing Britain, first published in 1970, taking over responsibility for later editions (the fifth appearing in 1990) after Hansons death. Well-received, this book kept the name of Leeds University before a large number of students over the years. This was followed by books on British and American Systems of Government (1988) and Understanding the United States Presidency (1991). An important research interest was the US Supreme Court, on which he also published and ran a successful third year special subject.

Malcolm was a conscientious and devoted teacher, committed to the highest standards always attracting large numbers of students to his course on US politics - and an imaginative, wise and respected academic colleague. He made clear and precise, but humane decisions, and disliked waffle. In youth he was a vigorous and athletic figure, but in later life he was plagued by the complications of diabetes. He did not allow this to show, but it involved frequent spells in hospital, and he had to forsake his beloved golf.

He is survived by his wife Pat, sons Mark and Christopher, step-daughter Anne, and his grandchildren.