Thanks to a minor staffing difficulty at a small Edinburgh HE college, exactly 30 years ago today, on 11th December 1989, I started my career as an academic.
One month earlier, on 9th November (the day that the Berlin Wall came down) I was interviewed for, and then offered, a temporary Lecturer post in the Department of Communication and Information Studies (CIS) at Queen Margaret College (now Queen Margaret University). The main purpose of this role was to undertake the teaching duties of Senior Lecturer Jim Herring (James E Herring) for two academic terms. Jim no longer had the capacity to teach ‘his’ classes because he had recently stepped up as Acting Head of Department of CIS while Head of Department Scott Allan was covering a vacant College Vice Principal post.
I stayed at QM somewhat longer than initially envisaged: by the time that I took up my next academic post at Napier University in summer 1999, I’d been at QM for almost a decade! However, I count myself lucky to have had the opportunity to establish my teaching and research career in such a welcoming and nurturing institution. This was down to a number of factors, some local (e.g. Scott Allan was eventually confirmed in post as Vice Principal) and others national, not least the UK transition from elite to mass higher education in the 1990s, and associated growth of provision in institutions such as QM. I also made many life-long friends at QM, some of whom I initially got to know in class as students.
I moved to Napier in 1999 for three main reasons: (1) the prospect of quick promotion to Senior Lecturer (achieved within a year); (2) the opportunity to be supported through a part-time PhD (completed within the minimum part-time registration period in 2004); and (3) to work again with my former QM colleague Professor Elisabeth Davenport. While I have also thrived across town at Napier – first in the Business School and then in the School of Computing – I know that I owe a lot to the chance that QM senior management took on a somewhat under-qualified, yet enthusiastic, 26 year-old three decades ago.