Thursday, April 27, 2017

To the Open University Foxcombe Hall-ers who cared, thank you

Tomorrow, Friday, 28 April, 2017, just another day in the calendar for many, is when the Oxford regional centre of the Open University closes down, permanently.

That arrow near the red brick chimney is pointing at the window of my, now largely bare, office where I'm typing these words.

After 41 years - we moved in in 1976 - the biggest university in the UK is withdrawing from one of the geographic educational heartlands of the globe. The main mansion house on the site was built in the 1880s by the Rev Henry Woods, Bursar and subsequently President of Trinity College Oxford and his wife, Margaret, a highly distinguished literary scholar. The site was sold to Lord Berkeley in 1893 and was a theological college from 1934 to the mid 1970s. Couple of pictures of the inside of the hall from the 1900s -

Because of the OU's funding arrangements the purchase of the site needed high level approval in the department for education and the treasury at the time.

Since then this beautiful setting -

- has been filled with amazing, inspirational, dedicated, deeply caring & knowledgeable people, who transformed the lives of thousands of Open University students. Often at significant personal cost.

The secret of the OU’s success, for most of the past half century or so, has been the goodwill of the staff and the students. This institution has simply been about putting people in touch with people, people who care; and creating, enabling and nurturing the materials, support and conditions for learning, personal development and growth.

The people in Foxcombe Hall, on a daily basis, have engaged in nothing short of societal magic and it has been my real privilege to work with you, know you and call you friends, for the past 22 years. The Open University will be a desperately poorer place without you and this enchanting setting, now to be transformed to no more than a cash asset on a balance sheet.

The regional centre in Leeds is also closing tomorrow. East Grinstead, London, Birmingham and Newcastle have already closed. Bristol and Cambridge will follow shortly. Open University Magic flowed from all those places too.

Whatever you all do in the future - and I can only wish you all the very best of good fortune with it - and no matter how unwise you understand the decision to shut down our regional infrastructure was, no one can ever take away the difference you made, here at the OU.

Thank you for caring.

Note: All colour photos in this post © Peter Thompson, our resident photographer and IT specialist.

Now, somewhat appropriately perhaps, as I consider shutting down this computer and carrying the remainder of my belongings to the car, the heavens outside have opened in something of a deluge...


Roberta P Davies said...

That is really sad Ray.
I imagine how sad it must be for all the OU people affected :(

I wish all the best for all the people that worked magic at the OU offices that are now closed and closing.


Anonymous said...

Ray, you are wasted. You have written here and always have written, such heartfelt inspirational words. I was very sad last Friday as I read Facebook posts and looked at many photos, but nothing was written as eloquently as you have done here, you have reduced me to a blubbering wreck! We all have such happy memories of Foxcombe, my 18 years there were filled with such happy times and fun times. It was an amazing place to work with so many wonderful people, unfortunately so many no longer with us. You are one of those wonderful people, thank you Ray for your kindness, thoughtfulness and your passion for everything you do.
And now we move to the next bit of OU Change :-(

Thank you
Celia x

Dominic said...

A tragic and unnecessary misjudgement by the OU, whatever the funding situation. Wasteful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ray - I've only just seen this but enjoyed reading it and I'll tweet the link from the OU branch of UCU twitter acocunt.

best wishes for your non OU future!
Deb Shann