We have all been deeply saddened to hear of the death of Rachel Heery, Assistant Director of Research and Development at UKOLN until her retirement in 2007. Some of us in CETIS, particularly Phil Barker, R John Robertson, Sarah Currier and I worked closely with Rachel on a number of JISC projects and initiatives over the years including the IE Metadata Schema Registry, the Repositories Programme Advisory Group, the Jorum Steering Group, the Digital Repositories Programme Support Project and the Repositories Research Team.
I first came across Rachel at a UK Metadata for Education Group Meeting in 2001. As usual she made quite an impression with her astute and forthright views and I made a mental note never to get into an argument with that woman. However I quickly learned that Rachel was an excellent person to get into an argument with. She was authoritative and insightful and always seemed willing to discuss alternative perspectives from outwith her immediate domain, as was the case with CETIS. I got the impression that she didn’t suffer fools gladly and never hesitated to question accepted orthodoxies when necessary.
It was invaluable for CETIS to have such a strong ally at UKOLN and Rachel’s open-mindedness proved over and over again that the two JISC innovation support centres could work productively together with a minimum of fuss. I remember attending one particularly tedious and unproductive “coordination” meeting in London where we made more progress in the fifteen-minute tube journey across the city with Rachel (and Pete Johnston) than during the whole day long meeting.
Of the projects mentioned above DRSPS / RRT is notable in that it was the first JIIE programme support project delivered collaboratively by two JISC services (now innovation support centres): UKOLN and CETIS. Rachel managed the project from 2005 until her retirement in 2007 and when she left her departure had an enormous impact. It’s ironic that Phil and I are in the process of putting the finishing touches to the RRT Final and Completion reports and had planned to send them to her this week in case she cared to take time out from her retirement to comment. We tried hard to get across in the reports the irreplaceable contribution she made to the project at both the strategic and personal level.
I always used to look forward to meetings Rachel was attending as you could usually guarantee a sparky and thought provoking discussion. Her professional integrity always commanded respect. Personally I will miss her enormously as a colleague and a friend.
Our thoughts are with her family.