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Emeritus Professor Norman Alan Jepson

Emeritus Professor Norman Jepson

Emeritus Professor Norman Alan Jepson, former Professor of Adult Education and Head of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, died on 16 January 2010.

Norman Jepson was born in 1923 and attended Glossop Grammar School. He entered the University of Manchester in 1941 but was called up for military service after one year. He spent the next three years as a pilot in RAF Coastal Command. On the cessation of hostilities in 1945, he resumed his degree course. He entered fully into all aspects of undergraduate life and took an active part in the Students Union, distinguishing himself particularly in the debating society. Despite his extensive extra-curricular activities, he graduated with a very good First in History and Politics in 1947, on the strength of which he was awarded a research scholarship for the following year. One of his tutors at Manchester paid prescient tribute at the time to many of the qualities which were to buttress Norman Jepsons life and career: his intellectual energy and verve; his integrity, amiability and quiet efficiency; his extensive reserves of understanding and sympathy; and his deep sense of responsibility to the community.

Norman Jepsons initial appointment at Leeds, in 1948, was as Administrative Assistant in what was then the Department of Extra-Mural Studies. He quickly demonstrated his prowess for dealing expeditiously and effectively with a great deal of administrative work and established excellent relations with his academic colleagues. He also began research on the early history and organisation of the university extension movement, which bore fruit in the award of his PhD in 1952 and in a number of scholarly articles. His book The Beginnings of English University Adult Education: Policy and Problems, which built on his doctoral thesis, was published in 1973.

His early years at Leeds also provided Norman Jepson with the opportunity to gain some teaching experience. This proved wholly successful and he effortlessly made the transition to a full-time academic post, being appointed Lecturer in 1952. Promotion to Senior Lecturer followed in 1963 and, in 1970, he was appointed to the Chair of Adult Education. During Professor Jepsons lengthy period on the staff, the title and scope of the department changed more than once; what was the Department of Extra-Mural Studies became the Department of Adult Education and Extra-Mural Studies in the 1950s and the Department of Adult and Continuing Education at the beginning of the 1980s. Professor Jepsons own academic and intellectual interests also underwent a process of growth and development. In his initial years as a lecturer, he took responsibility for developing the teaching of, and research in, adult education. At the same time, he became increasingly interested in criminology and aspects of social studies. In addition to producing a number of influential publications in these areas, he taught criminology in the Department of Social Studies for several years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the quality of his teaching making this one of the most popular options with the student body. In 1962, he became the first-ever academic adviser to the Prison Services Central Staff College in Wakefield. In this pioneering appointment, he took much of the responsibility for putting in place a completely new staffing structure and for advising on the content and delivery of a wide range of courses for prison officers and other staff. With his breadth of vision, clarity of thought and sensitivity to the human needs of organisations, Professor Jepson had a profound influence on training and practice within the Prison Service. National recognition of this came in 1987, when he was awarded a CBE.

Following his promotion to Senior Lecturer in 1963, Norman Jepson took responsibility for the social studies work of the University department and helped to plan a number of new-type extension courses. He also oversaw the development of the Departments work in applied social studies; this involved making provision for the professional training of a range of personnel in the Prison, Probation, Child-Care and other social welfare services. Following a restructuring of the Department in 1969, he was made Acting Head of Department, taking on this office on a substantive basis on his appointment to a Chair in the following year. As Head of Department, Norman Jepson took a lively interest in every aspect of its activities, and, where he felt it necessary, would champion its cause with vigour and resolve but also with unfailing courtesy. Less obvious but equally effective was his unobtrusive personal concern for his staff at times of personal crisis. He skilfully managed the Departments extensive and varied adult education responsibilities which took in an area stretching from Middlesbrough almost to Barnsley. He was a persuasive advocate of and powerful source of support for new forms of community-based adult education that sought to bring the University to those who had hitherto had no involvement in post-compulsory education of any kind. With his active help, the Department was able to attract special funding from the Government for what, at the time, was called Pioneer Work. Although commonplace now, this kind of lifelong learning provision was very unusual in British universities in the 1970s and early 1980s. He also nurtured the development of the Departments role in continuing education, encouraging staff across the University to engage in the dissemination of their knowledge and expertise to business, industry and the professions.

Not surprisingly, Norman Jepsons acumen and achievements led to his being in demand at national level. Among notable offices he occupied were those of Secretary of the Universities Council for Adult Education and Chair of the Northern Committee of the National Association for Mental Health. He also served as a member of the Judicial Studies Board of the Lord Chancellors Department. Nor was he neglectful of local affairs. His concern for the rehabilitation of former prisoners was shown in his becoming a founder member of Kirkstall Lodge, a hostel for ex-offenders. He also served on the Leeds Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and on the West Yorkshire Probation Committee, and was on the managing body of Springhead Approved School.

Norman Jepson retired from his Chair in 1983, at which point the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him. In retirement, he continued to be active and productive, taking on research projects and resuming his advisory role with the Prison Service College in Wakefield. In 1985, he accepted an invitation to serve as a trustee of Barnardos which, in its role as a national childcare charity, had a number of residential schools for children with special needs. Mr Timothy Lawson, CBE, former Chair of Council and former Vice-President, writes that as well as attending Council meetings, Norman was soon elected to the Executive/Finance Committee, where, in addition to his general contribution, his expertise in education enabled him more directly to influence the development of childcare policy and practice When remembering Norman Jepson the characteristics that spring to mind are integrity, humility, quiet thoughtfulness, and wisdom; a dear man who is sadly missed by his Barnardo colleagues. Standing down from the Council in 1997, Professor Jepson went on to serve as a Vice-President until 2000. Despite increasing frailty in recent years, he retained a lively and questing interest in the activities of his former colleagues and in the philosophy and future development of adult education.

Professor Jepson is survived by his three sons, Robin, Nigel and Mark, and three grandchildren, Nicola, Ellen and Robert. His wife, Renee, whom he married in 1950, died last year.

Published: 10 February 2010