Professor RB McDowell

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The Independent Online

Further to your obituary of RB McDowell (17 September), there are many tales told of the eccentric professor, writes Professor Derek Forrest. In his capacity as Junior Dean he was responsible for discipline in College. On one occasion he was invigilating an examination when he noticed one candidate was wearing a small piece of torn cloth in place of the compulsory gown. McDowell immediately expelled him from the examination.

A short while later McDowell took a break and encountered the same student relaxing with a cigarette outside the examination hall and still attired in the rudimentary gown. "Smoking in a gown, fine £10" was McDowell's immediate reaction. In spite of his authoritarian manner, he was much admired by students as a gifted teacher and dedicated researcher.