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Donald McIntyre

Donald McIntyre 1937 – 2007

Professor Donald McIntyre, the influential former head of Cambridge University's Faculty of Education, who was widely regarded as one of the most profound educational thinkers of his generation, has died at the age of 70.

Friends and colleagues from the world of educational research have paid warm tributes to Professor McIntyre, who was one of the main architects of the new Faculty, which was established in 2001.

He had been a Professor of Education at Cambridge since 1996. Previous Readerships at Stirling and Oxford had already established him as a major force in educational research before he arrived, with a formidable reputation for reforming teacher education, but Cambridge perhaps became the most substantial beneficiary of his energy and enthusiasm.

He was one of the main figures behind the convergence of the Education Faculty's various parts into a single centre on Hills Road and as its first head led it with flair, enthusiasm and vision. Although he formally retired from his Cambridge chair in 2004, for him "retirement" was a fiction as he continued to offer guidance, advice and support to numerous colleagues and doctoral students, working tirelessly to ensure that teacher education and research at the University was distinctive, informed and innovative.

His own research was highly original, challenging and influential. His first major book, "Teachers and Teaching", which he co-authored with Arnold Morrison, quickly established him as a leading figure.

More than three decades later he was still writing with great insight and lucidity. Recent contributions had included co-authored books on learning from and with teachers, improving learning through consulting pupils and learning without limits. He also recently completed a major study with colleagues of the changing status of teaching as a profession. All were central to his vision of an enabling education which would liberate and empower individuals.

His career spanned the development of educational research from an embryonic discipline in the late 1960s to its status today as a fully-fledged social science and major contributor to educational policy. The first conference of the British Educational Research Association was held in Stirling in 1974 and two decades later he was to serve as its president.

He was deeply interested in politics and was frequently consulted both by the teaching profession and by government. His contributions to the discipline's infrastructure were especially valued in his native Scotland where his achievements were recently celebrated through the award of honorary doctorates from Edinburgh and Dundee.

Mike Younger, Head of Cambridge's Faculty of Education, said: "Donald's sense of fun, his love of Scotland and France, and of red wine remain in our hearts and minds today. We shall miss his dedication, his concern for us all, his inspiration and his imagination. To Donald, all things were possible and so much was achieved. Education is much the poorer for his loss".

His long-time research collaborator Professor Sally Brown, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Stirling University, added: "Donald McIntyre was the most profound educational thinker to emerge in Scotland in fifty years. He had an amazing understanding of the engagement of theory, research and practice which in education are so often falsely regarded as separate entities.

"Nowhere is this more evident than in his contribution to the development of ideas and policy for teacher education in the UK and more widely. Many of those who benefited from his wisdom and support are now to be found amongst the country's professors and leading its universities".

Donald will be greatly missed by his friends, colleagues and particularly by his family, his wife Anne, their children Jane, Andrew, and Neil, and his grandchildren.

Alison Richard, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, acknowledged Professor McIntyre's reputation, describing him as "an anchor and source of wisdom for the Education faculty during tumultuous years of integration and growth."

[Originally published on the University of Cambridge Website]