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Professor Jeremy Alden (1943 – 2012)

23 January 2012

Tributes have been paid to Professor Jeremy Alden, former Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching and Head of the School of City and Regional Planning, who has died at the age of 68.

Professor Alden, an authority on regional development and spatial planning, played a leading role in establishing Cardiff as one of the world's leading centres for the study of City and Regional Planning. A Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, he was also an important figure in professional planning teaching across the UK.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, and the present Head of the School of City and Regional Planning, Professor Chris Webster, have both paid tribute to his contribution.

Jeremy Alden came to Cardiff in 1969, after an early career which included policy work for the Department of Economic Affairs. Initially a Lecturer in Urban Economics and Regional Development, he was a Senior Research Fellow, then Senior Lecturer, before becoming Head of School in 1990.

As Head, Professor Alden reinforced the School's position as world leader in its field. The School was top ranked in the UK Research Assessment Exercise of 1996 - a position it retained in 2001 and 2008.

After his term as Head of School completed in 1999, Professor Alden was appointed International Professor of Planning Studies and University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching in 2001. His role in the latter post included representing Cardiff in a joint UK and Chinese study of the management and performance of the two nations' leading universities.

Professor Alden's expertise was recognised by many international bodies. The Welsh Government commissioned him to study regional development and spatial planning in Wales while the European Commission asked him to investigate the implications for planning of an enlarged EU. The Chinese Government also asked him to help promote spatial planning in China and exchange best practice with Europe. He was also founding editor of the journal International Planning Studies.

Professor Alden also acted for the Royal Town Planning Institute in the accreditation of most of the UK University Planning Schools. In 2004 he chaired the Planning Panel for the UK Quality Assurance Agency, benchmarking expectations of all Planning graduates in the UK. He retired in 2007.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "Cardiff University owes a great deal to Jeremy Alden. An eminent researcher and educator, his leadership helped reinforce the position of the School of City and Regional Planning as among the world's best. The School's consistent first places in the UK research quality ratings are testimony to his legacy. In addition, I greatly appreciated his support during his period as Pro Vice-Chancellor when he championed education and learning in the University and did much to strengthen the University's international links, particularly with China. Professor Alden was a much-valued colleague and friend to many, and everyone who knew Jeremy at Cardiff has been greatly saddened to learn of his death. Our deepest sympathies go to his wife Brenda and to their family."

In his tribute to Professor Alden, Professor Chris Webster said: "I have never come across anyone who didn't talk of him with fondness. Although he was at the top of his game, he always managed to remain essentially humble, leaving colleagues and students feeling elevated by his self-effacement and praise."

Professor Webster's obituary of Professor Alden can be read here.

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