On Friday 18th November Edith hall announced her resignation as Research Professor in Classics and English at Royal Holloway University of London.
In a letter addressed to the principal of the college, Professor Hall stated: “I am with great sadness resigning from my Research Chair in Classics and English with effect from April 1st 2012. I have been approached several times by other institutions since I first came to RHUL in 2006, but until June 29th 2011 I never for a minute considered responding positively to any of these approaches, since I loved working with such internationally respected Classicists.”
Hall’s move can therefore be seen as a direct response to the proposed cuts to the Department of Classics and Philosophy announced in June 2011. These called for the withdrawal of BA Classics and Latin, and the transferral of Philosophy to the Department of International Relations. It also guaranteed the loss of six staff posts.
Hall played a central role in campaigning – locally and nationally, as well as at a global level – against these hugely unpopular cuts alongside students and colleagues. Protests against the move did lead to drastic revisions of the proposal in October; the BA Classics course was saved, and the loss of staff posts was reduced to four. But the retention of other cuts, and the way the situation was handled was enough to alienate Professor Hall, who stated: “… the intense stresses of a professional environment in which the senior management do not in my view uphold the values definitive of a university, and whose fiscal competence I do not trust, make it impossible for me to continue teaching and conducting research at Royal Holloway.”
Hall posted her announcement on the ‘Save Classics at Royal Holloway’ Facebook page and the ensuing comments demonstrate a huge respect, and support, for her decision. Students highlight what “a great loss to RHUL” Professor Hall’s resignation is, and many applaud the “herculean” role she played in fighting against the cuts to the department. Helen Eastman stated; “[It is] Devastating that a prolific and brilliant classicist, who has brought research funding, gravitas and excellent researchers to RHUL, is leaving as a result of months of dealing with Senior Management nonsense. How many more brilliant people will the university drive out?”
Many will undoubtedly ask the same question. Hall’s prolific body of writing includes 18 books, 8 chapters, numerous articles, and several introductions to scholarly editions. She has contributed to radio documentaries, including BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, and has given many public lectures, including that for a master-class in Classical Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Professor Hall’s dedication to the Department of Classics has been unwavering, and her energy, enthusiasm and acumen will be widely missed at Royal Holloway