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Roger Pollard

Emeritus Professor Roger D Pollard, BSc, PhD, FREng, CEng, FIET, FIEEE

Emeritus Professor Roger Pollard, former Professor of High Frequency Measurements and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, died on 3rd December 2011 after a short illness.

Roger Pollard was born in London in 1946 and attended Hendon County Grammar School.  Having worked for a number of years in the Engineering Division of the BBC in London, he entered the University in 1969 to read for a BSc degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  Leeds was to remain his academic home for the next forty-one years. Having graduated with a first class degree in 1972, he went on to postgraduate study and, in 1974, was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.  He was awarded his PhD in 1980 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1985.  He was made Professor of High Frequency Measurements in 1995.

In the course of a distinguished academic career, Roger’s research concentrated on the study of microwave solid-state devices and circuits.  His research embraced both the theoretical and the highly applied and found expression in contributions to ten books, some 150 refereed publications and the three patents he was awarded.  He supervised over fifty PhD candidates.  Among the numerous distinctions that attended his research were his election, in 1997, as a Fellow of the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).  His election was in recognition of his contributions to the development of microwave and millimetre-wave measurements and active device characterization.  He was awarded the Measurement Prize by the UK Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in 1999 and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal in 2000.  In 2005, Roger was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.  He was also a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. 

The applied nature of elements of his research ensured that Roger’s services were highly valued by a range of external organisations.  He was a consultant to nine companies and had a particularly long-standing association with Agilent Technologies (previously Hewlett-Packard Company) which began in 1981 and continued into his retirement.

Roger was a warm, witty and wise colleague, respected and liked throughout the University.  His conviviality and collegiality were reflected in his lengthy stint as Steward of the Senate Dining Club.  His reputation for sound judgement and creative thinking, passion for academic excellence and zeal for effective and fair governance led to his appointment as Head of the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering in 1999, which he relinquished upon his appointment, in 2002, as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering – the first such appointment in a revised University-wide structure.  He was to continue as Dean until his retirement from the University in 2010; one of his enduring legacies was to leave the Faculty in an enviably strong academic and financial position.  Possessed of clarity of vision and strength of purpose, he carefully and successfully built on existing academic strengths, nurtured a strong team culture throughout the Faculty and led the development of innovative Faculty-wide support structures designed to secure highly efficient and cost-effective professional services – a model that continues to be widely emulated across the institution.  On a lighter note, annual Faculty planning meetings were much enlivened by his personal portfolio of cartoon slides.  Within the wider University, he was a strong supporter of multidisciplinarity and made many thoughtful and effective contributions to academic debate in Senate.

Roger had an impressive depth of knowledge about the University and the HE sector as a whole.  This he regularly displayed at meetings with consummate skill.  He did not simply read committee papers, he interrogated them, and was never constrained in raising the pertinent questions that others might have felt inhibited from asking.  He had a lively debating style and an obvious relish for the cut and thrust of public discussion; yet this always went hand-in-hand with consideration and respect for the views of others and an ability to concede a point with good grace and humour.  A passionate believer in the life-enriching potential of technological progress – he was one of the first to bring a smart phone or laptop to meetings – he also championed the virtues and values of the arts and humanities; for him, intellectual curiosity could and should not have any limits.

Throughout his career, Roger Pollard also found time to involve himself prominently in an extensive range of professional activities and services.  He was a member of the IEE Council from 2001 to 2004 and of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) Panel for Electrical and Electronic Engineering in both 2001 and 2008.  He contributed to the IEEE in a variety of capacities, including serving as Chair of the Technical Activities Board in 2010 and as leader in several key volunteer positions.  He was the first non-US citizen to hold the office of President of the IEEE Society Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.  He himself drew particular satisfaction from his time as chair of the committee responsible for the creation and launch of the platform which established the Institute as a leading international on-line source of authoritative technical information.  At the time of his death, Roger was the Secretary of IEEE and a member of its Board of Directors.  His contribution to the IEEE has been eloquently expressed in recent days by its President, Moshe Kam:

To his friends in IEEE, Roger Pollard exemplified the dedicated and fully committed IEEE volunteer.  He has given to the organisation of his time and intellectual effort, generously and consistently, for more than 25 years.  He was a well-read and broadly educated man, and very often raised the level of conversation with his wide knowledge of literature, language and the arts, and with his substantial understanding of law, political history, and economics. He was known as a passionate advocate of the organisational units which he served, and of the ideas and causes he favoured.  He was a highly eloquent and persuasive speaker, not shying away from expressing strong opinions and decisive plans that often flew in the face of conventional wisdom and challenged the existing order.  Yet he was open to persuasion and to hearing and learning from individuals of different opinions, and was frequently the architect of compromises that resulted in widely-supported decisions based on consensus.  

In recognition of a career of rich accomplishment and exceptional service, the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon Roger after his retirement from the University in 2010.

Roger is survived by his wife, Anne, and daughters Kate and Jane. 

The funeral took place on 4th December.