News from Cass Business School

Obituary - Professor Shelagh Heffernan

Friday, 17 December, 2010

Shelagh played an important part in the academic life of Cass (and CUBS before that) for around a quarter of a century. She was an outstanding all-round economist who made contributions on many subjects but it is her work on banking that became her forte and made her an international reputation. She published about thirty papers in top international journals, and wrote four books. Of these, her 2005 book, Modern Banking, is probably the most widely known as it became a standard text for banking students.

In her early days at Cass, Shelagh’s teaching was on the MBA programme and on the BSc in Business Studies, but from around the mid-1990s Shelagh taught on and helped run the BSc in Banking and International Finance (BIF) and then contributed to setting up the BIF MSc.

Students who took Shelagh’s courses will remember her best as a brilliant and dedicated teacher. Her MBA lectures on economics in the early 1990s are legendary, but it is the BIF students of the past fifteen years or so who will have learned most from her. Despite her deteriorating health, Shelagh developed ways to teach without having to stand and lecture and no student ever claimed to have been short-changed. Indeed, her teaching scores got better and better and she deservedly won School and University teaching prizes. In addition to her teaching and course development activities, Shelagh devoted copious time to her tutees, her PhD students and her project supervisees. She worked all her waking hours and for her there was no weekend.

Shelagh cared passionately about the quality of education and she dedicated her life to both teaching and advising those who came under her wing. In the past few years, she had become the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning and in this role was able to push for higher teaching standards all round. However, she will be remembered best as a person of extraordinary courage and commitment who fought on in the face of adversity for many years longer than anyone else would have done. She was a loving and loyal friend to those who took the trouble to get to know her. But most of all, she was an extraordinary human being.

She had a long and happy marriage to fellow-economist Peter Sinclair. He was her main support through the years of declining health and his is by far the greatest loss.

Professor Alec Chrystal

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