In my northern mind, February begins to mark the passing from one season to another. It is so, so gradual, incremental, barely perceived, sensed in the shift in the lightness of a morning, an almost imperceptible degree of coolness that only sensitive skin can detect.
How shocking then to have had the sudden passing of two greatly loved colleagues in a single school in the same 24 hours. Shocking, sad and deeply tragic. Dr Ed Montano was a greatly respected lecturer who taught in music production and had been gravely ill for many months, yet he was in work on the Friday before the semester began, attending to timetables, creating content for his courses, and doing the myriad tasks that is the lot of every Program Manager. Spend time with your family his colleagues urged, there is so little time left. But I do that too, said Ed, after work, on holidays and at weekends, that’s all fine, but remember that the school, my students, my colleagues, these are also my family. It was so very typical of Ed – generous, caring, and professional. He was so deeply valued. He died in the first week of February.
Only hours later Associate Professor Adrian Miles, until recently the Deputy Dean for Learning and Teaching in Ed’s School of Media and Communications, passed away suddenly and without warning, leaving behind distraught friends, relatives and college colleagues. Ten days later we gathered for a deeply moving memorial service in the Storey Hall, many hundreds of us, standing room only, the place filled with flowers, trees, foliage. The ambience of the bush, which Adrian so loved, filling our senses. One of Adrian’s colleagues talked of how irreplaceable he was, no one would ever fill his boots, just as no one could ever quite match the colourful exuberance of his richly patterned shirts. A well-published academic, an innovative leader of learning and teaching, an inspirational and deeply fair-minded individual, Adrian was an extraordinary asset to the university. He was 57 when he left us, and like Ed, his loss is being deeply mourned.