Monday, 23 March 2015
Carol Prior, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on 11 March 2015, devoted her working life to supporting students at the University of Reading until her departure in October 2014.
Carol was born and bred in Reading and attended Alfred Sutton Girls School before joining the student records section of the then Registrar’s department at the University in 1974. Her immediate line manager at that point and for many years thereafter was Anita Morey who recalls that Carol was originally employed to do stencilling, which was a time-consuming and tiresome task in the pre-computer (indeed pre photocopier) age which perhaps contributed to Carol’s later enthusiasm for computer based systems. From these modest beginnings, Carol become number two in the records section which managed all undergraduate paper records and more importantly, particularly after the introduction of RISIS, the issues which arose in connection with a student’s recorded status be that a matter of money, reporting to LEAs, which funded students at that time, or suspensions and return to study. During this period, Carol became aware of the wide range of matters which might affect a student and his or her chance of academic success. With the creation of a more integrated Student Services section within the University, especially after the Carrington Building was erected, Carol had an opportunity to draw on her experience to make many small changes which enhanced the life of students. One example (of many) is her determined and ultimately successful battle with banks which refused to allow international students either at open a bank account at all or only to do so with immense difficulty.
The move to the Carrington Building allowed Carol to mould the new Student Helpdesk to serve students effectively and sympathetically. She insisted, contrary to the wishes of the University at the time, that the Helpdesk should be more than a reception desk and, by using a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff, this was achieved with 90% or more of student queries being answered by the Helpdesk team on the spot. The Carrington Helpdesk was much visited by other Universities keen to learn from how things were done at Reading. As head of the Helpdesk, Carol lead the registration of students at the beginning of the academic year and it was she who determined that this should, where possible, be done at Halls of Residence so that a student could register in the Hall and at the University at the same time thus reducing wearisome queuing for new students. As well as her work supporting students directly Carol was widely consulted by colleagues from across the University on a range of operational, technical and welfare matters.
Carol’s vast experience meant that she was always willing to provide a view of matters which affected students, often adding ‘me and my big mouth’ if the comment was especially robust: however robust her disagreement with a decision, she always implemented it loyally and efficiently.
It was typical of Carol that, having worked with students all day, she wished to continue providing support out of hours so she became a Hall Warden, first at Sibly and then at Sherfield, drawing on her experience as a senior resident at St Patrick’s, to provide support and discipline as required. In this area of work, as with the day job, Carol received many messages of thank from students.
Outside the University, Carol enjoyed gardening, country music and, when in better health, walking and dancing. She loved animals and was the very proud owner of Charlie, a green cheeked Conure 'not’ she insisted’ a parrot’
Many of us admired her work and relied upon her for her expertise. Carol Prior was a person who always sought to help students - even if sometimes exasperated by them – and she succeeded in her aims.
The ceremony took place at Reading Crematorium on Monday 30 March at 11.30.
Donations to Carol's chosen charity 'Great Ormond Street Hospital' http://www.gosh.org/gen/donate/one-off-donation/
Thank you message
Anita and Malcolm Morey wish to thank everyone who came to Carol's funeral, who sent us kind messages, flowers or donations. We are very grateful.
Please accept this as a personal acknowledgement.