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Miss Jillian (Jill) Rennie

Colleagues will be very sorry to hear of the death of Jillian Rennie, former Secretary for Public Lectures and Hospitality within the Registrar’s Office.

Jill Rennie read English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford, subsequently working as a private secretary at Salt’s Mill before she joined the University in May 1958 as Clerk in Social Studies. She also spent several months as secretary to the newly formed research department within Granada Television, before promotion to Administrative Assistant (Public Lectures and Hospitality) within the Registry in 1959. She was promoted in 1970, with the title Secretary for Public Lectures and Hospitality, the role which she was to continue to fulfil until she took early retirement from the University in 1992.

Jill’s tenure within the administration spanned a period of immense change and expansion for the University. Her wealth of knowledge of both people and processes, and the experience upon which she was able to draw, was invaluable in discharging her responsibilities in a wide range of activities. These included, but were by no means limited to, the organisation of honorary degree ceremonies; the administration of the University’s extensive public lecture and concert programme; supporting Convocation and its activities; and supporting the Committee on the University Art Collection and Gallery, as well as numerous ad hoc events. For many years she also supported the Canadian Studies programme, including the administration of the Leeds-Alberta exchange scheme; and she had a keen interest in developing the University’s relationship with alumni in the UK and, in particular, internationally. She had particularly close links with the Clothworkers’ Company, and was responsible for managing the visits of the then Chancellor, HRH the Duchess of Kent, to the University. Her skills were also in demand externally: she acted as a consultant, for example, to the Open University, upon their first degree ceremony, held at Alexander Palace in June 1973; and advised, on a less formal basis, upon the establishment of many University societies and groups.

All of her responsibilities were managed with despatch and enthusiasm, and Jill’s unfailing courtesy and congeniality complemented the attention to detail, resourcefulness and anticipation required behind the scenes.  She was absolutely dedicated to her role, hating to leave a job unfinished or a loose end untied.

Jill will be remembered with enormous fondness and respect by all those who worked with her, and by the fellow members of the numerous clubs and social associations within which she was active.

The funeral service will be held at 1.00pm on Thursday 29 March at St Chad’s Church, Otley Road, Far Headingley, Leeds LS16 5JT, and afterwards at Weetwood Hall. There are to be family flowers only: donations in aid of Cancer Research UK and The Stroke Association would be gratefully received. As a mark of the University’s esteem, the flag on the Parkinson Building will be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral.