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Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard

Notice | Obituary

We have learnt, with regret, of the death of Mark Maynard on 31st May.

Mark Maynard was sadly diagnosed with cancer in January this year. He knew his chances of recovery were slim at the start but none of us were prepared for such a quick decline. Throughout his illness he seemed more concerned for others than himself. He continued to work whenever he felt well enough and was amazingly considerate towards his colleagues. He decided to retire early on the grounds of ill health in May. Sadly he died only a few days later on May 31st.

Obituary: Mark Maynard (June 3rd 1956 to May 31st 2012)

Mark arrived at the University in May 1990 fresh from a training and support role with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. He joined the Social Science Faculty as one of the first Computer Officers, and was instrumental in helping expand the use of computers for staff and students (setting up and managing, eventually, six Mac and PC labs across campus). But it was his personable, patient and enthusiastic approach to the staff and students themselves which would become Mark’s trademark - calmly showing staff how these new fangled boxes could help them in their teaching and research, and beginning many years of teaching relevant computing skills to student classes: over twenty years, he received countless expressions of gratitude, of which he was never more proud than the occasions he received a spontaneous round of applause at the end of a teaching session - whether this was for the teaching content, or the bad jokes, was never clear. Renie Lewis, a colleague of Mark's who worked in the Politics department, notes: "Mark's contribution to the departments in the Faculty of the Social Sciences was tremendous. He was always available to sort out the many problems we had, and did so with grace and patience. His kindness to our students was unfailing, and again, he always had time for every query. He had a gift, too, for never making any of us feel stupid!"

Mark found a particular skill in preparing documentation for students, producing a number of guides and handbooks for absolute beginners; and he combined this with his skill in teaching to deliver a number of modules within the Social Science disciplines, and through an externally-funded ESF programme to train new Social Science graduates in research computing skills. He took an active role in representing the needs of staff and students at institutional level, as a member of the Information and Communication Strategy Committee and several of its sub-groups; he later went on to chair the University's Software Panel for a number of years, and never failed to remind colleagues how staff and student needs and experience transcended all other concerns.

Within the faculty, Mark particularly enjoyed working with staff on research projects, drawing on his own degree in Psychology and Masters in Information Technology to provide invaluable assistance in data gathering and analysis. He designed and set up a system to automatically scan high volumes of printed questionnaires, which at its peak handled a major research project with Premier League football teams in the Centre for Sport and Society, and is still used today to scan large numbers of module evaluation forms.

Mark joined IT Services in 2009 as a Training and Communications Specialist. His passion for making technology easy to understand and simple to use, and his gift for writing clear English about complicated subjects were quickly put to use. The service benefited hugely from his insight into academic life and his conviction that IT should help not hinder.

Two of Mark’s most recent achievements illustrate how much energy and determination he brought to this: Last November he organised an ‘IT Showcase’ event to engage staff and students with the new IT Strategy. This was his idea and he made it happen. More than a hundred people came and it was a huge success. He also played the key role in designing and developing an online training course on Information Security for which the institution won the 2012 UCISA Excellence Award.

Mark was a devoted husband to Soula and father to Alice and George - often bringing tales of his growing children's successes and activities into work to share with colleagues. He was also a keen supporter of real ale (which he enjoyed in evenings out with colleagues from across the university), and had a particular taste for strong, smelly cheese (not so enjoyed by his colleagues).

In all he did, Mark believed strongly in bringing fun and a friendly face to the humdrum of everyday work. In his parting email to colleagues before taking early retirement on the grounds of ill health, he urged us to make the most of all seven days of the week - and not limit the fun and happiness just to the weekend. If we all aim for that, it would be a fitting legacy to a man who brought smiles and laughter to everyone he shared his time with.

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