AOUG Baroness Lee of Asheridge Award for Maths, Computing and Technology

formerly known as AOUG Baroness Lee of Asheridge Award for Technology

Jennie Lee was born in Lochgelly, Fife. She was active in the Labour Party, became an MP in 1929 and following Labour’s win in the 1964 General Election, chaired the Parliamentary Committee convened to investigate the practicability of PM Harold Wilson’s ‘University of the Air’ project, which he had first mooted in 1963. The concept of an OU had its opponents, one of whom was the controller of BBC television 1961-1963, Stuart Hood. He called the idea of an open university an historical fossil from the days of the Workers’ Educational Association and the National Council of Labour College.

Although she had personal experience of a conventional university as, with the financial support of Fife Education Authority and the Carnegie Trust, she studied at Edinburgh University, perhaps such notions of the past influenced Jennie Lee’s political development and sensibilities. In 1965 she said that Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure’ was one of the formative books for her when she was a young student.

She also knew about conventional adult education. The WEA was less popular in Scotland than England and less well-regarded by many on the left and the formal adult education of her late husband (Bevan) amounted to two years at the Central Labour College, London, funded by the South Wales Miners’ Federation. She felt that adult education should be more than ‘dowdy and mouldy old-fashioned night schools with hard benches’. Lee was mindful of the fact that Adult Education was, as the OU’s first Vice Chancellor, Walter Perry, put it, to be ‘the patch on the backside of our educational trousers’. Her 1966 White Paper, ‘A University of the Air’ made it clear that there could be no question of offering to students a makeshift project inferior in quality to other universities as that would defeat its whole purpose.

Jennie Lee laid the foundation stone for the first OU library, which bore her name in April 1973. The first AOUG Award named after Baroness Lee was presented in 1994 which was given just for technology research but in the OU Faculties of Mathematics and Computing joined together with that of the Technology Faculty and so AOUG decided to discontinue the separate Awards and combined Maths and Computing with Technology into a single Award in 2007.

Previous Winners of the Maths, Computing and Technology Award
2019 Mark Parker
2018 Tony Royal
2015 Matthew Jacques
2014 Simon Butler
2013 Ian Kenny
2012 Penny Lynch
2011 Iain Summers
2010 Susan Storer
2009 Patricia Roberts
2008 No recipient
2007 Mark Dunsford

Previous Winners of the Technology Award
2006 Valerie Rose
2005 No recipient
2004 Trevor Pearce
2003 Maurizio Ferari
2002 Jack Cawlwell
2001 Diana White
2000 Linda Waddoups
1999 No recipient
1998 Adrian Patrick
1997 No recipient
1996 Jonathan Jacobs
1995 No recipient
1994 Chris McArthur
1993 No recipient