Colin was a prominent character in the early Essex days, teaching between 1968 to 1975, the ‘radical period’. He had a lively career afterwards but died young. Here is an obituary from The Herald Scotland. 26th April 2003:
Professor Colin Bell. Socialist and academic powerhouse with a record of excellence and a penchant for jazz
An abiding love of jazz was the appropriate relaxation for a radical sociologist who, despite being at the helm of Scotland’s academic establishment when it came to safeguarding standards, kept a courageous, radical outlook, sharpened at the start of his career when Essex Univers-ity was at the forefront of challenging academic assumptions. Professor Colin Bell never lost his keen sociological authority, displaying it publicly last year on a television programme on poverty. Colin Bell became principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Stirling in September 2001, after holding the same offices at the University of Bradford. He was vice-principal at Edinburgh University from 1993 to 1998, and professor of sociology there from 1988. He was a distinguished sociologist, with particular interests in social mobility, family and marriage, stratification and power and research methodology. His publications included Middle Class Families, in 1968, Community Studies (1971), Power Persistence and Change (1975), Doing Sociological Research (1977), Property, Paternalism and Power (1977), and Social Researching (1984). Colin Bell was born in Kent, graduated with first-class honours from Keele University, and took a postgraduate degree from the University of Wales. He lectured at Essex, then went to the University of New South Wales as professor of sociology and chair of the arts faculty. In 1980, he was appointed foundation professor of sociology and social history at the University of Aston, Birmingham. He also held visiting professor- ships at McMaster, Madison-Wisconsin and La Trobe. He moved to Edinburgh in 1986, where he became professor of sociology in 1988 and vice-principal in 1993. He was a member of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a founding aca-demician in 1999 of the Aca-demy for Learned Societies for the Social Sciences. His later career was much concerned with issues of quality in higher education. He chaired the Scottish Higher Education Principals’ quality assurance committee and quality assurance forum. He had also chaired the quality assessment committee of the Higher Education Funding Council in England and was a member of the Quality Assurance Agency’s degree-awarding powers committee and the mergers’ committee of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. He convened the Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice. He was principal and vice-chancellor at Bradford for three years, where his achievements included six consecutive excellent scores. He was instrumental in ensuring the university’s collaboration with local institutions, including Bradford College and universities in Leeds. Under his leadership, Bradford became a leading institution in widening participation in and access to higher education. As principal of Stirling University he continued to take a radical approach to post- graduate education. He urged the Scottish Executive to set up independent centres of excellence by forming insti- tutes separate from universities, to encourage co-operation among academics. He saw the proposal as particularly appropriate for business, as no Scottish university business department was graded of international significance. At a time of proposed mergers (and with no obvious partner institution for Stirling), he was keen to think big, saying: ”If there is an issue about too many institutions, one of the solutions might be to say, ‘Let’s do a few things Scotland-wide’.” Colin Bell was married twice: to Jocelyn Mumford, with whom he had a son and daughter, and to Janette Webb, with whom he had two daughters.
Professor Colin Bell, principal and vice-chancellor Stirling University; born March 1, 1942, died April 24, 2003.
For more: see Memories.