Professor Webley was awarded a CBE for Services to Higher Education in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

Tributes paid to former University of Exeter Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor

Tributes have been paid to the former Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, Professor Paul Webley, CBE, who has passed away aged 62.

Professor Webley led SOAS, University of London, from 2006 until 2015 after 26 years of distinguished research, teaching and leadership at the University of Exeter. At Exeter he held several senior positions including Head of the School of Psychology and, latterly, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter said: “The University of Exeter was hugely fortunate to count Paul as a valued staff member for 26 years, starting out as a Lecturer, becoming Head of the Department and School of Psychology in 1993, Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2003 and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2005.

“Paul was not just a valued colleague, but was quite simply one of the nicest and most widely respected people I have ever met. He understood the need for change at Exeter and led the process from the mid-1990s in modernising the institution. His legacy at Exeter is enormous, and he will be truly sorely missed by everyone who worked with him. Our thoughts are with Julie and the family.”

Current SOAS Director, Baroness Valerie Amos said: “Paul made a tremendous contribution to both SOAS and the wider academic community - as an inspired leader of our renowned specialist institution, as an eminent economic psychologist, as a member and chair of many influential bodies in higher education and as an unstinting champion of specialised research and of freedom of speech. His work was fittingly recognised in the award of a CBE in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

“As we approach our centenary in 2016-17, SOAS can be proud to have had Paul as its champion and leader for the last decade. He leaves a great legacy. Paul’s warmth, generosity and loyalty was felt by all. The whole SOAS community of staff and students, alumni and friends and supporters are greatly saddened by his loss and our thoughts are with Julie and his family.”

An economic psychologist by training, Professor Webley graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with both a first class honours degree and a doctorate on children’s perception of deception.

Professor Webley was awarded a CBE for Services to Higher Education in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list. The award recognised his work as the leader of a renowned specialist institution, as an eminent economic psychologist, as a member and chair of many influential bodies in higher education and as an unstinting champion of specialised research and of freedom of speech.

He was Chair of the Trustees of the UK Council for International Student Affairs and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Economic Psychology and the former President of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology. He was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2010 as a mark of his significant academic contribution in the field of economic psychology where he had contributed to more than 140 academic publications and collaborated with researchers throughout Europe.

In the wider academic arena, Professor Webley was involved with the educational provision of the University of London as a whole in his capacity as University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, helping to direct the development of its Library and its student provision. The University of London flag on Senate House was lowered to half-mast on Thursday as a mark of respect.

Former Chair of the SOAS Board of Trustees Tim Miller said: “Paul’s untiring commitment to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East has been an inspiration and a beacon to the internationalist spirit in this country. His passionate optimism, tempered by a psychologist’s dispassionate understanding of behaviour and motivation, has enabled him to have a significant impact on both higher education and Britain’s engagement with the world beyond Europe.”

A memorial service for Professor Webley will be held at SOAS and books of condolence have been made available in the reception areas of College Buildings and the Brunei Gallery. Anyone wishing to pass on their respects to Professor Webley’s family should email comms@soas.ac.uk and any letters and cards should be forwarded to Room 115, Communications Directorate Office, The SOAS, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.

Date: 4 March 2016

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