New hall named in honour of Sir Kenneth Wheare

Friday, 23 June 2017

Sir Kenneth Wheare hall visit

Oxford Brookes has announced the naming of the Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall in tribute to one of the most influential figures in the University’s history.

His name will be honoured on this important new building for Oxford Brookes, a significant element to the continued redevelopment of the University’s campuses.

Sir Kenneth was a hugely influential and revered Oxford academic who held a number of senior roles, including being Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford in the mid-sixties.

He was also a hugely influential figure in Oxford Brookes’ own history - particularly in its progression from scattered rooms across Oxford as the Schools of Technology, Art and Commerce, to one, larger college in Headington.

It’s quite marvellous that Dad is being remembered this way. It was all such a long time ago and suddenly now, to find him being remembered, is fantastic. We’re looking forward to the formal opening next year.

Patrick Wheare

Sir Kenneth worked with modern founder John Henry Brookes to plan the creation of the “promised land” – as Oxford Brookes’ Headington site became known – in his role as Chair of the Education Committee at Oxford City Council.

Despite the committee approving the scheme, to his and everyone’s utter astonishment, the full City Council rejected the proposal. Sir Kenneth did not accept this however and subsequently worked tirelessly by engaging with influential contacts.  A protest at the Town Hall saw supporters fill the building and spill out into St Aldate’s and eventually the campaign was successful when the decision was overturned in 1952.

Sir Kenneth Wheare’s family, including his sons Tom and Patrick Wheare and daughters Katie Reid and Philippa Gibbs, visited the University earlier this month to catch an early sight of the new hall, which is in its final stages of redevelopment.

Patrick said: “It’s quite marvellous that Dad is being remembered this way. It was all such a long time ago and suddenly now, to find him being remembered, is fantastic. We’re looking forward to the formal opening next year.”

Katie added: “Our father accomplished a great deal but he was always incredibly modest. The things he achieved were not broadcast and I didn’t really know about his involvement with Brookes until the University’s recent 150th anniversary. It is nice to have the connection there and have it live on in the building.”

Sir Kenneth Wheare family eventThe redevelopment of the Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall and Clerici building began in April 2016 and is the latest phase in the University’s ten-year, £220 million estates investment.

Clerici will see 30 new teaching rooms sit alongside social learning spaces, a café and a lecture theatre designed to encourage collaborative learning. The building will also be the new home of the Oxford Brookes Business School from September.

The new Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall will be completed over the summer, creating a multi-use space for teaching, graduations and other key university events.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt said: “We have seen the transformative impact which new buildings and facilities have on our students’ experiences.

“I have no doubt that the refurbished Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall will significantly enhance the learning experience at Oxford Brookes, just as our newest buildings have done so in recent years. It will also provide a space for a variety of important activities for the University such as our graduation ceremonies which are undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year.

“It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Kenneth Wheare’s family to the University and provide them with the opportunity to have an early glimpse of the nearly completed hall and redevelopment of the Clerici Building.

“Sir Kenneth was a hugely influential figure in Oxford Brookes’ history, particularly in relation to our progression from scattered rooms across Oxford as the Schools of Technology, Art and Commerce, to one, larger college in Headington, which remains home to one of the University’s campuses today.

“It is only right that the hall, where some of the most significant events in the university calendar are celebrated, is named after him.”

Photo (top) from left to right, Patrick Wheare, Professor Alistair Fitt, Katie Reid, Tom Wheare and Philippa Gibbs.