Tributes have been paid to University of Lincoln Professor Brian Winston who has been described by his colleagues as “a remarkable person” and “a phenomenal figure” after his tragic death.
The 80-year-old, whose career in the media and at the university spanned a total of almost 60 years, sadly passed away on Friday, April 8 after a long illness.
The British journalist was educated at Kilburn Grammar School in London and Merton College in Oxford, where he graduated with a BA in Law in 1963. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Lincoln in 2006, where he is also the first holder of the Lincoln Chair.
He was appointed as dean of faculty of media and humanities on August 1, 2002. On October 1, 2004 he became pro vice chancellor of External Affairs, before taking up the post of Professor and senior academic in media and humanities on December 1, 2006.
On September 1, 2007 he was appointed as Lincoln Chair. His role at the university only ended recently, but until then he was the first and only Lincoln Professor which is the highest academic honour at the university.
Professor Winston has also taught at New York University’s Film School in America, where he was made chairman of cinema studies. He was later appointed dean of the College of Communications at Penn State University, USA.
On his return to the UK, he joined the University of Wales College in Cardiff as director of the Centre for Journalism Studies. He was then appointed head of the School of Communication, Design and Media at the University of Westminster.
After joining the University of Lincoln as dean of media and humanities, he later held various other roles and as the inaugural holder of the Lincoln Chair, he taught and inspire students on journalism and media courses.
Deborah Wilson David worked with Brian at the University of Lincoln from 2002 until she left to become the head of the department of journalism and media at Nottingham Trent University in September 2019. The two crossed paths again in recent years during his role as visiting professor at Nottingham Trent University where he gave guest talks to her media, journalism and documentary students.
Deborah described her former colleague as “the kindest of men as well as the most gifted scholar”.
She told The Lincolnite: “He supported me when I first met him, sitting nervously alongside him on a panel giving my first conference presentation in the early nineties – and he would similarly champion others new to the academy.
“Some years later I would work for him, then with him, and we became close friends. He was enormous fun to have dinner with, holding forth with anecdotes told with great energy and drama and wit.
“He exceeded students’ expectations of what a professor should be, and they loved him for it. And many colleagues have said how he would ask after their children – he loved talking to children and they loved him, one of my many lasting memories will be of him talking with children – on their level – as if there were no-one else in the room.
“We have all lost a great scholar, a champion of young talent, a good and loyal friend, a most wonderful man – and that will be nothing compared to what his family have lost, to whom we all send our deepest condolences.”
Andrew Wilson David worked with Brian since starting the university’s radio station Siren FM in 2007.
He told The Lincolnite: “It’s impossible to overstate just what a phenomenal figure Brian was; and to see him working with students at the university and the volunteers at Siren was inspirational as he regaled them with anecdotes from a lifetime in the worlds of film, tv, radio and academia.
“And in a style all of his own, he challenged them with advice, not always quite what they might have expected. To have been able to talk to him about a lifetime in the industry and receive so much more, these are memories to be treasured.”
In a message to staff, the University of Lincoln said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Prof Brian Winston, the Lincoln Chair. Brian was a remarkable person who contributed greatly to the University and academia throughout a distinguished career.
“He was much loved by colleagues and students. He will be missed enormously by the university community.
“The thoughts and condolences of all the University of Lincoln community go to his friends and family.”
Brian’s career was recently celebrated in a new book called ‘It’s the Media, Stupid’, which was edited by his University of Lincoln colleague and friend Richard Lance Keeble.
The book, one of more than 20 he has had published, brings together 10 original essays by leading international academic colleagues to celebrate his distinguished career. The essays cover three areas – documentary, free expression and the politics, and ethics of the media – which have all been specialisms of Professor Winston.
Richard Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, described Brian as an “inspirational colleague” and said: “Brian played a crucial role in my career, appointing me professor in 2003 and joining with me since then in a wide range of educational and publishing projects.”
The Lincolnshire Jewish Community also posted a tribute in memory of Brian saying: “The Lincoln Professor, Professor Brian Winston, sadly passed away last night (April 8). Brian has been a hugely important figure in our community for so many years. He will be greatly missed.”
Brian also occupied major roles in the broadcast industry in both the US and UK and his achievements over the years have been recognised with numerous awards.
As well as securing prestigious international prizes for his books and films, he was also the recipient of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement Writing for an Information Series in 1985.
As a teacher and writer of textbooks, Brian was admired by students and colleagues alike, his crowning achievement came in 2007 when he was named the Lincoln Professor, the highest academic honour at the university. Brian was also the university’s Jewish Faith Advisor and worked closely with colleagues within the Multi Faith Chaplaincy.
Professor Winston was also a defender of the free press and supported it at The Linc student newspaper at the university.
One of his most recent talks at the university focused on the subject of fake news – watch it here.
Professor Brian Winston has sadly passed away.
Many connected with @unilincoln will remember his teaching, enthusiasm and friendship. We were proud to have Brian in our School of Film and Media – he was extremely popular with staff and students alike and will be greatly missed pic.twitter.com/kPr6Pn849m
— Lincoln School of Film & Media LSFM (@LincolnMedia) April 9, 2022