Hello Mr Bean!

I must admit that in my semi-retired state I haven’t been keeping up with news and events in the world of distance education as well as I used to. So I’ve been a little slow to realise that Mr Bean has been appointed as VC-designate a the UK Open University.

Yes, it’s true! Check an official news item from the UKOU. There’s still a few months before Martin Bean (couldn’t find him on Wikipedia!) formally takes up the job, but so far the feedback is pretty positive – Doug Clow was at his initial chat to UKOU staff, and provides a nice summary on his blog.

Now, you should know that currently Mr Bean is Managing Director of Education for Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft Corporation, but we all acknowledge that we shouldn’t necessarily hold that against him, don’t we (says he, gritting his teeth as he taps his blog on a marvellous Mac)?! So it’s a bold appointment, as he becomes the fifth VC at UKOU, following in the steps of Brenda Gourley (who is in Wikipedia). However, the apparently brave appointment shouldn’t be too surprising to close observers of the Open University, which has a history of seemingly taking chances (often successful) – and such observers will also know that this is the third Vice Chancellor in a row who is not a Pom (John Daniel being Canadian and Brenda Gourley a South African)!

Most importantly, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I announce the best news concerning Martin Bean – he’s Australian! Yes, born, bred and educated, with a degree in adult education from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Historical observers will also be aware that this isn’t the first Australian who has graced the corridors of UKOU  senior staff at Milton Keynes. Going right back to the times of the legendary first VC, Walter Perry (Lord Perry to you), Bob Ross was plucked from Oz and replanted to be the PVC for Staff and Student Affairs. Those who know Bob will wonder at the nature of early interchanges among senior staff those decades ago – Bob is forthright at the best of times, well known for interjecting during conference presentations to challenge points made or even tell the speaker to get off because they were so boring (another ‘urban myth? I’m not so sure)! He maintained his style right through his career, a fine example being his submission to a government higher education review,  concerning technology and learning for life, in the mid-1990s. To quote, “… I read your Discussion Paper as yet another example of the gap between rhetoric and outcomes that so bedevils educational policy.”

So, all the signs are positive – good luck, Mr Bean!

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