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Annual Report 1998: Introduction to The Department of Geography

Having experienced the external reviews of the TQA and the RAE, in 1998 the Department faced assessment by the Needs Committee of the School of the Physical Sciences, in February. This internal quality assurance fell between the two external assessments in terms of its time demands, but was more obviously of benefit to the Department. The members of the Committee were enthusiastic about the work of the Department, sympathised with our space constraints, and underscored the need for additional accommodation in the neighbouring Hardy Building. Since then, 1998 has been a year for displaying patience; by December, we were beginning to see what this extra space would look like, and how we would be able to reorganise occupation of the existing and the new. It will be for the 1999 Annual Report to provide a full account, but at this stage I should like record our gratitude to the General Board and its officers (particularly Graham Allen and Chris Hammond), to EMBS (especially John Neve) and to Keith Fuller of Bidwells. And, of course, to the architect and builders who skilfully converted the interior of a building that at one stage seemed a candidate for demolition into desirable space for academic use. Fortunately we had another benign external assessment during the year, on May 13, the Department was placed first, ahead of Bristol, Durham and UCL, in The Times "Good University Guide" listing for Geography!

My colleagues continue to bring great distinction to the Department. In January 1998, Dr Alan Baker was created a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académique by the French Government for his work on the historical geography of Loir-et-Cher. From 18-19 September, a conference in his honour, with the theme "Explorations in Historical Geography" was held at Emmanuel College, where 47 participants from nine countries presented 28 papers. Dr Susan Owens was appointed as a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and was awarded an OBE for her services to Sustainable Development in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1998. Professor R J Bennett was awarded the Royal Geographical Society Founder's Medal for his contributions to economic geography and public policy. He was also elected Vice-President of the Research Division of the RGS-IBG.

The Department was delighted that one of its members succeeded in the University's new ad hominem promotions exercise. Dr R L Martin spent part of his Leave of Absence as a Visiting Professor in Economics at the University of Ancona, and returned later in 1998 to be promoted to a Readership in Economic Geography, from 1 October 1998. In addition, Dr Stuart Lane's appointment was upgraded to a University Lectureship with effect from 1 January 1999, and Dr Sarah Radcliffe was re-appointed to the retiring age from 1 October 1998. The new staff who joined us in 1998 included Bhaskar Vira, who joined the Department as a University Assistant Lecturer, to contribute to its research and teaching in environment and development, with particular reference to the Indian sub-continent. He moved to Cambridge from a Research Fellowship in Oxford. He was also elected to a Fellowship in Fitzwilliam College. Mr Philip Stickler was appointed from 1 May 1998 to the Technical Officership with responsibility for the Cartography Unit; he joined us from the Department of Geography at the University of Witwatersrand. On the debit side, Bryon Bache retired at the end of the 1997-98 academic year - although we expect to continue to see him working in the laboratories created when we first welcomed from Applied Biology. Andrew Worsdale resigned from the post of Departmental Secretary in the early summer of 1998, to move to north Norfolk. Pending revisions of the duties and responsibilities associated with the post, a temporary appointment was made. Dr Richard Baxter, who had previously worked in the Department for the Environment, and in the Embassy in Washington, filled this post. Dr Dan Brockington, previously of the Department of Anthropology at UCL, joined the Department on 1 October 1998 to hold a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (and joined the Fellowship of New Hall). Dr Robert Mayhew resigned his BA Fellowship on the same date, to take up a post as Admissions Tutor and Research Fellow at Corpus Christi; this will mean that he will be part of the Cambridge Historical Geography group for longer than would have been the case had he remained a BA Fellow. Harriet Bulkeley, after completing her Ph.D., was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at St Catharine's College. Thus there are now five College-based Research Fellows in Geography.

All of this leads to the conclusion that the Department continues to flourish, and is ready for the next assessment.......

Professor Keith Richards