It is almost 10 years (bar 5 months) since Tom McLeish, freshly minted as Durham’s second Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, came to the History department in search of anyone who knew something about Grosseteste. What he got was the Ordered Universe project, of which he has been the driving force and inspiration. Tom left for the University of York this year, but capacities as a scholar, friend, leader and mentor were honoured at Durham University yesterday, 29th May, with a conference organised by Kislov Voitchovsky and Karis Baker, representing Tom’s varied interests and contribution to learning (and to the enormous difference he made to research culture at Durham). Brian Tanner and Giles Gasper represented the Ordered Universe project, Brian in a summary of Tom’s considerable achievements, Giles in a discussion of Grosseteste, pastoral care and the place of science and scientific metaphors in that discourse. Papers followed on rheology (the science of flow), theology and science, neuroscience, emergent structures and philosophy of science, scale, and interdisciplinarity. All in all a proper testament to Tom’s commitment to teaching, learning, research and the old-fashioned virtues of enthusiasm, support for the possible, and the staying power and resilience to bring things to fruition. We in Ordered Universe know these qualities well!
It was also a delight to learn that Tom has been awarded the 2018 Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The award, named for Lanfranc, Archbishop 1070-89, predecessor of Anselm (very familiar to Grosseteste), marks outstanding work in education and science. We could not think of a more worthy recipient. So, congratulations to Tom, and a big thank you as well!