Obituary: Fiona Veitch (1962-2017)
PSA members will be sad to hear that Fiona Veitch, Politics Lecturer at UWS, died suddenly and unexpectedly in September 2017. Fiona will be remembered as an enthralling teacher and insightful researcher, whose commitment to equality inspired hundreds of students across more than two decades of her career in higher education.
Fiona’s innovative teaching ran the gamut from UK and Scottish politics to international relations and identity politics. She also developed research-based modules in politics and religion and political Islam, collaboratively developing an interdisciplinary class on political psychology. Her emerging research profile included internationally recognised articles on ambivalent sexism and rape myth acceptance, and interdisciplinary curriculum development.
At the time of her death she was finalising research on undergraduate peer review, and planning a new research project on teaching sensitive topics. She had commenced a PhD on ‘rendition’. She was named on the current Erasmus+ project ‘RUEU?’ In 2016 she was recognised by students as UWS’ Lecturer of the Year. Fiona was proud to accept this award, albeit characteristically wary of such accolades’ potentially divisive use by university leaders.
Fiona had herself a distinguished track record of academic and administrative leadership, especially as programme leader for the former Cert HE Social Studies and later as deputy programme leader for the current BA Hons Society, Politics and Policy, as well as in various year leader roles. She was instrumental in widening access and participation for mature and ‘non-traditional’ learners. Her pastoral support of students was second to none, and she was a trusted friend and colleague to many academics, not least early career ones. Her contribution to the UWS politics group was incomparable.
Born in Glasgow in 1962, Fiona came relatively late to higher education, having originally worked as a civil servant in the field of Social Security, a role which made her especially sensitive to unfairness and inequality. In the early ‘90s she graduated with first class Honours in social sciences, specialising in politics and history, from GCU. She worked as a tutor there before taking up a full time post at Bell College in 1997, joining UWS’ politics group at the merger between Bell and Paisley University in 2007, and moving to the Paisley campus in 2011. She also taught for the Open University.
Outside her extensive work commitments, Fiona relaxed by reading, dancing, gardening, hiking, foreign travel and following tennis. She was often involved in protesting injustice, most recently against Islamophobia in the wake of the 2017 terrorist incident in Barcelona. Fiona had many close friendships inside and outside work, but was proudest of being mum to Callum, Rachael and Sean, who survive her.
By Dr Michael Pugh, School of Media, Culture and Society, UWS