The Women of Bishop Otter College and the University of Chichester

BO PHR 004 Miss Trevor - Photograph
Miss Trevor (BO PHR 004)

The University of Chichester (previously known as Bishop Otter College) has a rich history of female leaders – starting with Sarah Trevor, the college’s first female principal in 1873, to Professor Jane Longmore, the University’s present day Vice-Chancellor.

Sarah Trevor (1873-1895) became principal when the Bishop Otter College reopened as one of the country’s first colleges to train women in teaching. Trevor was popular with her students and between 1900 and 1915, together with staff they contributed to a series of stained glass windows commissioned by the College.

The windows represented female saints, each selected to be an appropriate role model for students in a women’s teacher training college. The image of St Hilda, a seventh century Abbess, famed for her wisdom and her teaching, was the student’s tribute to a woman who spearheaded the progress of women’s education in Britain.

Florence Johnson 1930 Magazine
(1930 Student Magazine)

Florence Johnson (1919-30) began as Principal by relaxing many of the outdated student rules, including the removal of the straw boater from the official College uniform. She was also instrumental in renaming the antiquated staff job title of ‘Governess’ to that of ‘Lecturer’. As part of her drive towards modernisation, Johnson led a new ‘building scheme’ appeal in the late 1920’s, and by 1929, the College Council had secured the purchase of a plot of land that adjoined the existing College site. Johnson believed that, to attract new students and so ensure the future of the College, it was important to lay the foundations for a building programme that incorporated a new hall of residence with study-bedrooms. In the Bishop Otter College Report and Statement of Accounts of 1930, the Chairman of the Bishop Otter College Council wrote: ‘All who have served under her owe her a debt of deep gratitude for her leadership in the College; her intellectual sincerity, her high standard of character, and her insistence on the very best for her students’.

 

 

Dr Dorothy Meads (1936-47) succeeded Elsie Bazeley

Dorothy Meads - Student Magazine 1948.1
(1948 Student Magazine)

(1930-1935) as principal. There were thirty-one applicants for the post, of whom, only two were women. Remembered for her friendliness and vitality, Mead continued her predecessors’ policy of underpinning the academic and cultural life of the institution with an ethic of service to others. ‘Austere in her personal habits she nevertheless, enjoyed taking trips in her Baby Austin and was devoted to her two small dogs’.

 

K M Elizabeth (Betty) Murray was Principal of Bishop Otter College between 1948 and 70. Along with Shelia McCririck, Head of Art at Bishop Otter College, she was responsible for drawing together a remarkable collection of post-war British art now housed in the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester. The unerring ‘eye’ of Sheila McCririck, together with the tenacious support of Betty Murray meant that works were often purchased by artists who were little known at the time, including, Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens and Stanley Spencer. Such was their vision that over the following three decades the College acquired

Miss Murray outside New Hall
Miss Murray outside New Hall

further work by artists such as Graham Sutherland, William Scott, Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow and Mary Fedden.

 

Professor Jane Longmore took up post as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chichester in May 2017. She is Chair of the Sussex Learning Network, Director of the University Vocational Awards Council and Co-Convenor of the HE Employer Apprenticeship trailblazer, a national consortium of over 100 higher education institutions and related organisations. Today, Professor Longmore presides over an exciting new

5 - Professor Jane Longmore APPROVED
Prof.  Longmore

era for the University, key to which is the foundation of a cutting edge Engineering and Digital Technology Park, due to open in September 2018. Bringing together science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics courses on one state-of-the-art site,  the University continues its strong tradition of producing graduates that have enterprise skills, creativity, technical knowledge and are well equipped to enter the graduate workforce.

 

Anna O’Neill

Director of Learning and Information Services

University of Chichester

 

Images reproduced with the kind permission of the University of Chichester

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