Professor Wendy Davies’ retirement
31 October 2007
UCL marked the retirement of Professor Wendy Davies (UCL History) at a reception on 30 October 2007.
Professor Davies studied for her BA (1964) and PhD (1970) in history at UCL. Following positions in Munich and Birmingham, she returned to UCL as a Lecturer in Medieval History. She was made a Professor in 1985 and thereafter became Head of the Department of History, then Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Dean of the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences and, from 1995, UCL Pro-Provost (European Affairs). She was made a Fellow of UCL in 1997.
In liaison with Professor Michael Worton, Vice-Provost (Academic & International), she was responsible to the Provost for coordinating and developing UCL’s strategy for the expansion of academic cooperation and research links with Europe. She provided UCL with advice on major trends in the region’s higher-education policies, and worked with the UCL Development & Corporate Communications Office to expand engagement with alumni in Europe and financial support from UK companies for UCL’s activities in Europe.
Professor Davies was the coordinator between UCL and various local and regional government departments and other public bodies – such as British embassies abroad, the British Council, and local universities and businesses – enhancing UCL’s reputation and visibility in the whole region.
She is one of the UK’s most distinguished medieval historians, as has been recognised by her election to the Fellowship of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London. She works within and across the disciplines of archaeology, Celtic studies and history, with a particular interest in the social and economic structure of pre-industrial rural communities in western Europe and in the ways those communities used land.
Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President and Provost, praised Professor Davies’ “remarkably flourishing career”, marked by personal modesty, scholastic excellence, care for students and support for colleagues.
Professor Nicola Miller, Head of UCL History, said the department’s current strengths were largely due to Professor Davies’ leadership in the 1980s, in particular the development of its own degree programmes and bringing the department’s staff into a single location. Her research career was marked by her insistence on continuing to ask “big intellectual questions” and ongoing development of new areas of research.