Remembering Janet Harrison

IMG_4085A group of staff and alumni have remembered a long-serving member of the Music department by donating a bench for the university campus.  Janet Harrison, who was the secretary for the Department of Music for nearly twenty years between 1972 and 1992, passed away last year.

Janet made an outstanding contribution to departmental and university life during her many years in Music. She was an integral member of the team who built the department, laying the foundation for its continued success well after she herself had retired.  When she joined the university, she was the only administrator for a department that consisted of five academic staff members and fewer than 60 students; by the time she left, the expansion that led to today’s much larger establishment had already begun.  She was also instrumental to the programmes at Turner Sims, working closely with her good friend and close colleague, concert hall manager Miriam Phillips.

Harrison photo
Janet in the Music department office – then next to the Nuffield – c.1985

Janet was much loved by the many generations of students who benefited from her kindness, care and good advice, and colleagues among the academic and administrative staff appreciated her efficiency, calm and good humour.  I remember arriving as a very junior lecturer, shortly before Janet retired.  I was beginning my first academic job in a country where I had never lived or worked before.  Janet was endlessly patient in answering my innumerable questions (many of which must have seemed ridiculously basic) and in helping me navigate the challenges of my new position.

Former colleagues and Music Department alumni donated funds to install a bench on the university grounds near the Department of Music and Turner Sims, to honour Janet’s memory. Janet loved gardens, and we thought that positioning a bench so that future generations of university students could enjoy sitting outside would be a wonderful way to remember her.  The bench was installed at the beginning of summer term and completed just in time for the recent spell of fine weather.  Janet was always warm and supportive presence for students preparing for exams and final recitals, and perhaps this tribute to her memory will also serve as a calming and inspiring influence as we move into the close of the academic year.

Students enjoying the new bench on a warm day last week
Students enjoying the new bench on a warm day last week