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Professor John Benyon
It is with great sadness that we report the death of a great personality, colleague and champion of the Association, Professor John Benyon.
John Benyon was born in Southampton where he attended school before proceeding straight into the world of work. John’s early employment, including a period in the building trade, was a far cry from academic life but the experiences he gleaned from ‘the real world’ nurtured a lasting enthusiasm for widening participation in education, and for justice.
John studied as a ‘mature student’ at Warwick University where he was also active in Student Union politics. His first academic post came in 1981, when he joined the University of Leicester, where he would remain for the next 30 years until his retirement in 2011. John’s career at Leicester commenced with a joint lectureship in Public Administration spanning the Departments of Adult Education and Politics. John’s research interests were extensive, though it was for his study of public disorder, protests and policing issues, and the politics of law and order that he became especially noted and revered, as a prolific author and organiser of conferences, symposia and other events. Through ground breaking research into race relations, ethnicity and policing, and books such as Scarman and After, and The Roots of Urban Unrest, he brought together critical debates of the time around social justice and the police.
In later years John researched extensively into lifelong learning and the ageing society, and the benefits of learning. As one of the early pioneers of distance learning, a number of programmes established by John are still running at Leicester today.
In 1987, John became a Senior Lecturer. That same year, he founded the Centre for the Study of Public Order (CSPO), an institute in which he served as Director until 1999. John was promoted to a personal chair in 1993. Under John’s leadership, the CSPO grew rapidly and by 1996, over 40 staff worked there, when it was renamed the Scarman Centre. Subsequently, it became the Department of Criminology. In 2000, John became the first Head of the new Institute of Lifelong Learning where he served as Director of Lifelong Learning until 2008.
John held honorary research positions in Beijing, Melbourne and New York and his work has been translated into Chinese, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Sinhalese and Spanish. From 2006 to 2013, he served as Chair of the College of Learned Societies of the Academy of Social Sciences.
Concurrently, John maintained an active role in politics in his adopted city of Leicester as well as in political studies. A longstanding member of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom, he became Honorary Treasurer of the organisation in 1992, a role he held until retiring from the position in 2015. Indubitably, the respect, influence and strength of the PSA can be attributed in great measure to the prudent custodianship of the Association’s financial activities, where his meticulous attention to detail and mastery of the intricacies of contractual negotiations with publishers, as well as “the man from the Customs and Excise”, was legendary. The PSA honoured John by presenting him with a Lifetime Contribution award in 2015, recognising his role in the growth and development of the study of politics in the UK for over a quarter of a century. The citation for the award said that John had been “pivotal to the modernising and professionalising” of the Association.
John has left a tremendous and lasting legacy. Many of us will recall with much affection his sheer presence, perspicacity, command of strategy, big personality and a sense of humour, all of which will be sorely missed. His love of his family, animals, gardening and The Saints will also long be remembered.
At this sad time, our thoughts are with his wife Coleen and his daughter Danielle at this time – he is already very sorely missed but will be long remembered.
- Paul Carmichael.
Please see here for the University of Leicester's obituary.
Service: 12.30pm on Wednesday 8 June, at St John the Baptist Church, Clarendon Park Rd, Leicester LE2 3AG. This will be followed by a burial at Gilroes cemetery.
The wake will be held at College Court which does have accommodation should you need it.