Obituary: Professor Joyce Lishman

Professor Joyce Lishman
Professor Joyce Lishman

The Trustees of SWET are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Professor Joyce Lishman.

She died last month and although she had been ill, this news was a huge shock.

Joyce Lishman will be known to thousands of students, social workers and Practice Educators as a prolific author and editor of many iconic social work textbooks and journal articles about communication, practice learning, evaluation and dissemination of research into evidence based practice.

She was a person of great integrity and sincerity and will be a huge loss for her colleagues, family and friends.

Appointed as the first female Professor at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in 1993, she worked at RGU for 25 years and was Head of their School of Applied Social Studies at the time of her retirement in 2011. She was also the Chair of the Scottish Heads of Social Work Education Group for a number of years and led huge improvements to social work education in Scotland. Following her retirement, she went on to be appointed as a Council Member of the Scottish Social Services Council and was also a Director of Inspiring Scotland, Aberlour, and Voluntary Service Aberdeen, reflecting her interest in promoting the third sector in provision of welfare.

One of SWET’s Trustees, Jon Bolton, trained at RGU and was taught by Joyce throughout his degree, so this news is particularly poignant for him.

Jon writes, “At a time like this, words always seem so inadequate. Joyce’s contribution to practice education in social work was enormous – but at an individual level, she played a significant part in my social work education and also my professional development. As a student social worker, she invited me to sit on the Faculty Board as a student rep, which was daunting to an undergrad but it was a heck of a lesson in organisational politics! I also discovered her wicked sense of humour.

“When I was a lecturer at Dundee University, I used to smile when students quoted Joyce’s words to me in lectures and assignments. They thought she was an absolute legend and were gleaning wisdom and inspiration from her written words – but I’d had the absolute privilege of actually being taught by her.

“I also worked as a Workforce Development Adviser at the SSSC for some of the time when Joyce was a Council Member, so we’ve been in contact for many of the past 21 years.

“Excellent social work education and training is vital for ensuring best practice, and Joyce was an excellent educator, bringing dedication, enthusiasm, passion and intelligence to everything that she was involved in.

“She leaves such a strong legacy but will be sorely missed.”