OBITUARIES:Professor J. R. Webster

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The Independent Online
J. R. Webster's contribution to education studies and administration within Britain is immeasurable and so, in Wales, is his legacy in the field of bilingualism and rural education. He also popularised the work of the Polish migr artist Joseph Herman and the Swansea-based artist Ceri Richards.

Roger Webster was born in Anglesey and left Llangefni secondary school for the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, to study geography. His first post was at Trinity College, the Church of Wales teacher's training institute at Carmarthen, where he taught social studies from 1948 to 1951.

In 1951 he accepted a lectureship in the Department of Education at the University College of Wales, Swansea, where he came to know a new professor, Charles Gittins, a gifted educationalist who influenced him greatly. They had much in common: interest in the history of education, in bilingualism, in committees and in research. Webster gained his doctorate on the history of secondary education in Wales and it became a model for other historians of education.

In 1961 he left academic life to become Director for Wales, Arts Council of Great Britain. His stay of five years was hectic. He established regional associations for Wales as well as strengthening the visual arts department; he served on the influential Lloyd Committee at the National Film School. But he missed the world of the university and in 1966 he was appointed Professor of Education at the University College of North Wales, Bangor.

For the next 12 years he became an influential figure in higher education: he was a member of the James Committee on teacher education, a member of the Venables Committee of Continuing Education, chairman of the Education Studies Advisory Committee of the Open University; and he chaired the standing conference on the studies in education. All this meant constant travel from Gwynedd to London and elsewhere.

In 1978 he was appointed Professor of Education and Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, succeeding the energetic Professor Jac Williams. Webster maintained the faculty's reputation as a power-base of bilingual education (although Webster's interest in bilingualism was less politically motivated than his predecessor), enlarging the facilities and ensuring Welsh-medium education would be well served throughout the Eighties.

Outside the faculty he served on the Telecommunications Advisory Committee as well as on the Post Office Users National Committee, of which he was chairman for Wales for eight years. For this he was appointed OBE in 1988. He was proud also of being appointed in 1984 Governor of the Commonwealth Institute.

Roger Webster retired in 1991. He maintained his wide interests despite ill-health and did so with natural charm and goodness.

John Roger Webster, educationalist, administrator: born Gaerwen, Anglesey 24 June 1926; Director for Wales, Arts Council of Great Britain 1961-66; Professor of Education University College of North Wales, Bangor 1966- 78; Professor of Education and Dean of Faculty of Education, University College of Wales 1978-91; OBE 1988; publications include Ceri Richards 1961, Joseph Herman 1962; married 1963 Ivy Mary Garlick (one son, one daughter); died Aberystwyth, Dyfed 2 April 1995.