Marian Williams has a long and varied association with Cardiff University. She was an employee, an undergraduate, a postgraduate, and a researcher. Here, she recalls her time at the university.
The University at Cardiff has always been a part of my life. As I was born and brought up in Cathays, my playground as a child, apart from the street, was the area around Main College, a green and very pleasant land during and immediately after World War II. Redwood Building, the enlarged Welsh Office, the Law School, the Wellcome Building, the Tower Block and the Preclinical building were all yet to come, and Main College with its lovely gardens, set amongst other elegant symbolic buildings, was a particular favourite of mine. I stood outside the gates looking in on many occasions although, as a child, I knew very little about it, other than that it was a school for 'grown-ups' and, if you worked very hard, you might gain a place there one day.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was initially denied this privilege. However, in seeking to return to the workplace once my two children were at school, in February of 1970 I was fortunate enough to be offered a part-time secretarial post by Professor R. W. Edwards, Head of the then Department of Pure and Applied Biology, part of the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. Apart from a very brief period in the 1980s I have happily spent the rest of my working life at the University, progressing from part-time to full-time employment, becoming Departmental Secretary, then, after merger in 1988, Secretary to the Deans of the two Science Faculties (Biological and Physical Sciences). I also spent time acting as editorial assistant to one member of academic staff in the School of Biomedical Sciences and, finally became PA to a member of the professorial staff in the same School.
By the time of my official retirement in 1994, I had completed three years of study with the Open University and had attended many classes organised by what is now known as the Centre for Lifelong Learning (LEARN) . However, I still hankered after a full-time university education and, inspired by a series of lunch-time History lectures I had attended, I summoned all my courage and applied for a place to read History at the School of History and Archaeology in Cardiff. They offered me a place, and the following three years were among the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. I graduated in July of 1997 and then went on to undertake research towards an M.Phil. at Cardiff - supervised by Dr. Bill Jones - graduating in 2004 at the age of 70.
This is not quite the end of the story though. Approximately 12 months ago, I was commissioned by Dr. Richard Evans, Dean of the Centre for Lifelong Learning to research and write-up their history from 1883 to the present day and this has resulted in the publication of a small volume which was launched on the 2nd December this year to celebrate the 125th anniversary of adult education at the university. Part of this work formed a paper which was presented (jointly with a colleague from LEARN, Dr. David Wyatt) to an international conference on adult education held at Cambridge earlier this year.
Was this the grand finale? Who knows. Whatever the future holds, I shall always be proud to have been associated with Cardiff University as an employee, an undergraduate, a postgraduate, and a researcher. I would do it all over again if I could.