My name is Jane Pugh, I joined the School for a year in 1976 as a trainee cartographer and I’m about to retire from the Secretary’s Division as a Governance Officer.
Tell us about your background? How did you arrive at LSE?
I was born and brought up in Cornwall. At school I took Geography, Art and English at A Level. My geography teacher had studied at LSE and he encouraged me to do the same. On the day it wasn’t to be and to my teacher’s surprise I didn’t get the required grades.
However, fate interjected. I took a three year HTD in cartography and the middle year was spent working in industry. I was lucky to be sent to the Drawing Office in the Geography Department at LSE for my work experience in 1976-77. I had wanted to come to LSE to study Geography, so it was a dream come true.
After finishing college I spent six months as a cartographer at Central London Poly, before being offered a job back in the LSE Drawing Office. I started in January 1979. The Drawing Office became the Design Unit and I was its manager from 1983 until 2001, when I left the School for a nine month sabbatical.
My husband was working in Washington DC and I joined him there. I had never not worked, so DC was like a long holiday: going to the gym, cycling along the Potomac River to Georgetown, visiting the galleries in central DC, then there were the “ladies that lunch” and playing bridge!
How did you come back to LSE?
I returned to LSE in September 2002, where I joined the Secretary’s Division. My work was to be a link between central administration and academic departments. Having provided a cartographic and design service for the School, I knew a lot of people and could get things done.
My first project, with Adrian Hall as Secretary, was a history of the School exhibition that was in the Student Service Centre for quite a long time. The main thing he wanted to do was to get people to mix more. The Department Heads Forum, which had been started by Tony Giddens, increased its number of meetings and the Department Managers Forum arose.
I kept my links with the Geography Department and for 13 years accompanied 2nd year students on the field trip to New York, partly as they needed women to chaperone and there were relatively few female academics.
The main change I’ve seen over the years is computerisation, everything is now done by email.
What did your role as a governance officer entail?
I provided support to Court, Council, the Governors, Emeritus Governors and Dame Shirley Pearce. I dealt with Honorary Fellows and graduates at the graduation ceremonies and produced such publications as the Governor Experts, LSE Digest and Heads of Department Handbook. I kept my creative hand in with a bit of Calligraphy, and was part of the Senior Common Room (SCR) committee.
LSE has been a wonderful place to work. It has given me great opportunities and a wonderful career. I have loved my time at School and it is difficult to leave. I’m like a stick of rock, LSE through the core.
The Senior Common Room is something any member of staff can join. How did you get involved?
In 2007 I joined the SCR Committee. People who belong to the SCR pay subs out of their salaries which subsidise the meals etc. The committee organise various events during the year, so we have wine tastings, the SCR Annual Dinner and the Strawberry Tea, there’s a Burns quiz night in January, and a retirees’ lunch and a new academic staff reception in September.
The SCR committee is mainly a mix of academic and professional services staff. It’s one of those things you do to be a good citizen and my role was very much a social one. One of the highlights is the people and as a result I’ve made some close friends.
In 2004 I set up and was secretary to the LSE wine advisory group with Professor Gaskell. My hobby is wine. I go to classes regularly, so I arranged wine tastings at LSE which were very popular. We also selected wines for the SCR Dinner and Honorary Fellows Dinner.
What have you been most proud of?
I would say it was being awarded an MBE, the time spent looking after the students on the field trip to New York, and finally the cartographic projects that I worked on back in the Design Unit. One series of maps on the Wahiba desert, involved me having to create 22 different sand patterns using a rotring pen. This was pre-computers and one of the maps was over six feet long. The maps were like works of art.
How did it feel to be awarded an MBE?
In 2011, I was awarded an MBE for Services to Education. It was a great shock. I went home one evening and there was an envelope in the letter box. It looked really fancy and I thought it might be a call to jury service, which I’ve never done and would like to do. And it wasn’t, it was a letter saying that I’d been awarded an MBE and if I wanted to accept it to please reply. It was a total surprise! I went to the palace with my husband, mother and twin sister and was awarded it by Prince Charles. It’s a lovely thing to have.
Just how many royals have you met?
When I first came to LSE in 1976 Professor Dahrendorf was the director and that year was the first conversion of the Library, which used to be a WH Smiths warehouse. The Queen Mother, who was the Chancellor of the University of London, came to open it. I was so lucky, I was in the Library and she happened to turn around and we caught each other’s eyes. She came across and shook my hand.
I’ve met Princess Anne, twice I’ve been introduced to her. The recent time was when the Land Registry building at 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields opened in 2013 and I was in the line-up. The other time must be about 20 years ago, I can’t remember for what reason she was there but we were up in the Shaw Library and I was one of the people they lined up to be introduced to her. So I’ve got a good hit list of royalty at LSE.
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