We are saddened to announce the passing of Professor Martin Harrison
The University is sad to report the passing of Professor Martin Harrison, who joined Keele as Professor and Head of the Department of Politics in 1966, when he was just 36 years old.
Martin took early retirement in 1993 after which, in line with his love of teaching and dedication to his subject, he carried on teaching a final year course on European Politics for many years.
His previous appointment had been as senior lecturer in the Politics Department at Manchester University where he had been an undergraduate, 1948-1952, gaining a first-class degree in Economics. After his first degree, he spent two years on National Service in the RAF and then went to Nuffield College, Oxford University, where he gained a PhD. He then went on to study at the Science Politiques in Paris while also working as an assistant correspondent for The Observer.
His first academic appointment was as Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, 1957-1963, during which time he went to the United States to cover the Nixon and Kennedy election on a Rockefeller Fellowship. It was next that he took up his post at Manchester University and then moved on to Keele where he remained, and happily so.
Martin’s research produced important books: Trade Unions and the Labour Party since 1945; French Politics; Politics and Society in De Gaulle’s Republic; TV News: Whose Bias? He also published many articles, particularly on topics relating to French politics, European politics, the media and General Elections in the UK and French presidential elections. He wrote a chapter on broadcasting and politics for each election in the Nuffield series of UK general election studies for many years and also contributed to the Annual Register of World Events for every year 1969 to 2019.
Martin also not only taught courses and supervised postgraduate research on topics relating to these areas of his research but also expanded his teaching into other areas not least that of Russian politics.
Furthermore, from 1995 to 2007 Martin set up and ran a data base of internet material on politics (the SPIRE Politics Portal).
Alongside his research and full teaching load Martin also carried out other important duties within the wider university. He was deputy vice chancellor for two terms and appointed Dean of Social Sciences twice; he was also a member, often the chair, of many university committees. In addition, he was also a valued and long-serving member and then chair of the editorial board of the Sociological Review, a flagship Keele journal.
Together with his numerous roles and duties within the university, Martin also contributed to the wider community. He played an important role over many years as chair of the Beth Johnson Housing Association, the charity based in Stoke-on-Trent. Martin was also a dedicated ‘Ham Radio’ enthusiast. He was active in the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network, Raynet, for 45 years and served as Staffs County Raynet Group Controller. His reports on solar propagation were recognised by the Radio Society of Great Britain as were his study of beacons and his work as Beacon Coordinator. Of special note among his many contributions was the valuable role played in the network that brought fast relief in response to an earthquake in Mexico. For some, Martin may be best remembered as the tall man walking around the campus listening and talking to a walkie talkie.
For those who knew Martin well, not least his colleagues in the Politics Department and his other many friends and colleagues across the campus, he will be remembered not only for his research and teaching and administrative roles and charitable work he will also be remembered as an honourable man, always fair and always of good judgement and always friendly and generous in his time to help others. Martin will be much missed and, not least, by his wife, Wendy, his children, Andrew, David and Catherine and his six grandchildren.
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