Education Diary: Glittering prizes and golf balls

Click to follow

*Glamour is not a word usually associated with education, but it certainly was at The Times Higher Education Awards last week. Ankles, glitter and cleavages – all were on display at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, where universities congregated to receive their prizes. The comedian Tony Hawks had a great time at the expense of academe, ridiculing the dreariness of presentations in a way that Laurie Taylor, the previous MC, would not have dared.

So, congratulations to Leicester for being named University of the Year, and to the Open University for its marketing award. (Students could pay fees through a Tesco Clubcard – surely a sign of the times.) Congratulations, too, to the historian and former journalist Professor Peter Hennessy of Queen Mary, University of London, for his Lifetime Achievement Award. Few academics can grab the public's attention like Hennessy and make the grey world of the 1950s come alive. Nor are there many vice-chancellors like Les Ebdon (Bedfordshire's boss), who was prepared to goof around on stage with Hawks and a golf ball. Don't ask.

*The University of Hull is to name its newly refurbished drama studio after Anthony Minghella, the film and theatre director who died in March at 54. Minghella got a First in drama at Hull and went on to become a lecturer in the department. He was at the university for 10 years, before going on to direct such films as , Truly Madly Deeply, The Talented Mr Ripley, and The English Patient, for which he won an Oscar.

He returned to Hull in 1997 to give masterclasses and receive an honorary degree. "Anthony was a person of extremely high intellect and he had incredible creative flair," says Tony Meech, a former head of the Hull drama department who worked with Minghella. "Despite his worldwide success, Anthony never forgot about his time at Hull and would mention the university wherever he went. I am keen for new students to be inspired by the wonderful work he did."

*The Oxford academic Richard Dawkins says he will spend his retirement writing. According to an interview with More4 News, he plans to write a children's book on how to think about the world. But J K Rowling and Philip Pullman can relax: he won't be competing with them. Rather, he'll be looking at whether bringing up children to believe in spells and wizards has a pernicious effect. Apparently, Dawkins read lots of stories as a boy about frogs turning into princes. Doesn't seem to have turned him into a raving mystic...