OU founder recognised

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THE Open University celebrated the role some of its early students played in its history at a special ceremony this week.

On Tuesday, around 250 of the university’s first ever students visited the Walton Hall campus, some for the first time.

Nothing like The Open University existed before they began their studies and for many it changed their lives when it opened in 1969.

The students were present to witness the official opening of the new Jennie Lee Building, opposite Walton Hall in the centre of the campus.

The building, named after Jennie Lee, a coalminer’s daughter, who as Arts Minister in Harold Wilson’s 1964 Government played a key role in the formation of the OU.

The striking building, made up of mutli-coloured panes of glass, houses a purpose-built hi-tech computing department which researches the interaction of people and technology, as well as ways of making learning more accessible.

Mrs Lee wrote in a white paper before the 1966 general election: “The Open University will obviously extend the best teaching facilities and give everyone the possibility of study for a full degree.

“It will mean genuine equality of opportunity to millions of people for the first time.”

The Jennie Lee building was officially opened at an afternoon event attended by the university’s pioneer students, members of the Lee family, friends of the university and dignitaries. Guests toured the facility and were given demonstrations of the university’s recent educational and research development work.