Rev’d Brian Roberts
‘I am very proud to have been of service to Birkbeck and its students, and I'm delighted to receive a Birkbeck Fellowship,’ says the Rev’d Brian Roberts, who retired in 2005 as Birkbeck’s Secretary and Clerk to the Governors, a post he held since September 1999.
The Secretary and Clerk to the Governors is the legal representative of the College, responsible to the Master for the central administration and services. One of his roles was to help represent Birkbeck staff at graduation days and student receptions.
Brian says: ‘I’ll always remember the new students’ receptions. Some students cluster together in groups for mutual support as they wonder what is ahead of them. I set this against my memories of the degree ceremonies, and the sense of achievement and celebration, which is a wonderful contrast. It’s inspiring to see the beginning and the end of that process.’
‘I’m also very pleased that, during my time as Secretary, Birkbeck introduced a unified library into one location at Malet Street, which is great for the students.’
‘Birkbeck’s provision of part-time, face-to-face evening education is very special, and it is not shared by other universities. I believe that Birkbeck in its very nature transforms lives.’
As a mature student himself, Brian understands very well the pressures faced by Birkbeck students juggling other commitments. He is in his final year of a distance-learning bachelor’s degree in Theology with the University of Wales, and is writing a dissertation on Celtic spirituality.
He says he’s had his fair share of ‘struggling to get an essay finished before it’s gone half past two in the morning. Studying part-time is particularly stimulating, but it can be a great jolt too, because if your work is very different from your study, you've got to change gear when you’re probably quite tired in the evening. People who study and work are to be admired. It takes toughness, resilience and aspiration, and Birkbeck students have all these qualities.’
Brian’s studies are for what he refers to as ‘the next phase’ of his life, which is as a priest in the Church of England. ‘I was ordained as a deacon in 2003, and I'm now working as a curate full-time at the Holy Trinity of St Mary’s in Guildford,’ he says.
When asked if he hopes for a stress-free retirement, he replies: ‘Well, life has stress, doesn't it? It depends on how you manage it and what comes from it. Life without stress suggests something very bland and flat, and that’s not life as I understand it.’
Born in 1944, Brian was educated at Kingston Grammar School, and graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1966. He worked in government service at home and overseas until 1970, including posts in the civil service, the colonial service and the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
He served in three other colleges of the University of London before Birkbeck: as Assistant to the Academic Secretary at LSE; Assistant Secretary at the Royal Veterinary College; and as Clerk to the Council and Secretary at the School of Pharmacy - where he became a Fellow in 2003.
His Birkbeck colleagues wish Brian a healthy and happy retirement.