Issue date: 07 November 2001

William Penry Oliver is to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of the West of England. Honorary Fellowships are granted by the Board of Governors of the University to exceptional individuals who have made a contribution to the life or work of the institution or to the advancement of its vision, mission and strategy, which is remarkable and beyond that implicitly expected by reason of their role in the institution.

William Penry Oliver studied for his MA and LLB degrees at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and graduated in the late 1940’s. He then practised as a solicitor for some years before entering employment in higher education. He joined Bristol Polytechnic as a Principal Lecturer in 1970, having formerly been at Newcastle Polytechnic. In 1974 he was appointed as Head of the Department of Law, a post which he held until his retirement from the Polytechnic in 1987 when he was succeeded by the present Dean, Alan Bensted.

During Penry Oliver’s time at the Polytechnic he led the development of the Department of Law so successfully that by the end of his stewardship it was one of the largest law schools in the United Kingdom, offering the most comprehensive portfolio of courses for professional law education. Penry was directly responsible for introducing professional courses which sat alongside the existing academic law courses. As a result, the Polytechnic was amongst the first higher education institutions to provide the Law Society Final and CPE courses. Indeed, Penry’s pioneering work provided the basis for the excellent reputation that the Faculty of Law has to this day.

The inspired nature of the development of law within Bristol Polytechnic was partly a reflection and consequence of Penry Oliver’s activities on the national scene. He served on a number of committees for national bodies including the Council for National Academic Awards, the Law Society, the Common Professional Examination Board and the Home Office. Penry was also a founder member of the Committee of Heads of Polytechnic Law Schools, a national forum for academic policy development amongst CNAA law degree providers. Through this work he made a contribution to law education and training of national significance, and particularly to the quality of provision in Polytechnic Law Schools.

Though a figure of national significance, Penry Oliver also played a full part in the corporate life of Bristol Polytechnic and from 1980 to 1984 held the appointment of Pro-Director, which he undertook alongside his departmental duties. It was in recognition of his academic status and leadership within the institution that he was appointed to that senior academic post and during his tenure he took on various projects for the Director concerned with academic and staff-related policies and procedures.

The Honorary Fellowship will be awarded to William Penry Oliver at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Law on Friday 9 November at 11.30 at Bristol Cathedral.


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