AOUG Vice-Chancellor Lord Perry of Walton Award for Social Science

Walter Laing MacDonald Perry (deceased) was born in Dundee, educated at Ayr Academy, Dundee High School, and the University of St. Andrews, where he gained MB, ChB (1943), MD (1948) and DSc (1958) and was the first Vice-Chancellor of The Open University from 1969 to 1979 and one of its key architects. He was made a Fellow of the University in 1981. Harold Wilson, who as Prime Minister created The Open University, described Walter Perry as ‘the man who has done more than anyone to ensure the success of what is now recognised in Britain, and in the wider world, as one of the most important educational and social developments of this century.’

He began his career as Medical Officer in Colonial Services (Nigeria), 1944-1946, and then for the RAF, 1946-1947. Between 1947 and 1952 he was a member of staff for the Medical Research Council and then became Director of the Department of Biological Standards at the National Institute for Medical Research (1952-1958). In 1958 he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at University of Edinburgh and its Vice-Principal from 1967 to 1968, until he took on the role of Vice-Chancellor at The Open University in 1969. In 1960 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society (Edinburgh). In 1963, he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), in 1967 a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), and in 1978 a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1985 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

As well as his educational work Walter Perry was the Chairman of ‘Community Radio Milton Keynes’ from 1979 to 1982, Chairman of Living Tapes Ltd from 1980, Chairman of Videotel Marine International from 1985 to 1998 and President of the Company from 1998 onwards. He was Deputy Leader of the SDP in the House of Lords from 1981 to 1983. Walter Perry received several honorary degrees and has been involved in various societies and commissions, many educational. He was awarded an OBE in 1957, a knighthood in 1974 and was created a Life Peer in 1979, taking as his title Baron Perry of Walton. In 1994 he was awarded the Wellcome Gold Medal and in 2000 he was awarded the Royal medal from the RSE.

He was instrumental in setting up The Open University as it is known today. His book, ‘Open University, A personal account by the first Vice-Chancellor,’ provides a wealth of information about how this was done. Information about his influence as Vice-Chancellor is spread throughout this website, particularly in the 1969-1979 section. The Walter Perry Collection is housed in The Open University Archive. It comprises papers relating to the University’s creation, Perry’s work as Vice-Chancellor and papers relating to the many projects and initiatives in which he was involved after he stepped down as Vice Chancellor of the Open University in 1981. The first AOUG Award bearing his name was presented in 1994.

Previous Winners
2019 Elspeth Nelson
2018 Linda Plowright
2017 Sarah Hutton
2013 Paul Herring
2012 No recipient
2011 No recipient
2010 No recipient
2009 No recipient
2008 Jean McAvoy
2007 Ms Louise Richards
1998 Angie Burns
1997 Martin Treacy
1996 Jennifer Francis
1995 Jennifer Randall
1994 Margaret Satchell