We remember

29 October 2012

UCT morns the recent death of former deputy-registrar Peter Anthony Thornton 'Pat' Wild. Below is a tribute presented by Registrar Hugh Amoore at Wild's funeral.

Service, in the very best sense, characterises Pat Wild's UCT career.

It spanned 37 formal years, and a good many thereafter as he was called back when we were stuck, to help out in such diverse areas as the science faculty office and as acting ops manager at the Graduate School of Business!

He came to UCT in July 1963, from Jack Gledhill's Rhodes Physics Department, via Manchester, where had obtained his PhD in the Jodrell Bank radio-astronomy laboratory.

He taught and researched in physics and astronomy from 1963 to 1982 (having been promoted to associate professor in 1977, when the criterion for this was that the candidate be chair-worthy) and was on at least two occasions acting head of the department of astronomy.

He was a committed and successful teacher, electing to spend two periods of study and research leave researching teaching at the then-Teaching Methods Unit - at a time when this notion was novel.

He was a legendary student advisor in the science faculty; it was in that capacity that I, as a student, first encountered him in 1971. In 1982, at a time when UCT had just been launched on its trajectory to be a research-led institution, and after the retirement of Bill Hibbard, he was persuaded to leave physics and astronomy to give leadership to supplying the growing needs of researchers: the next 18 years were to be spent in increasingly complex and demanding (and sometimes difficult) administrative roles, first as head of research administration, and from 1992 until his retirement in 1999 as Deputy Registrar, Academic and Research.

The meticulousness and care that he had brought to teaching were the hallmark of his administrative contribution.

When Pat retired, he wrote to me about "the great privilege [it was] to be associated with the best university in Africa for the whole of my life".

Equally, it was UCT's privilege that Pat gave his entire working life in its service. For that we are grateful indeed.

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