It was with great sadness that Cambridge Scholars Publishing learned of the death of Professor Heather Höpfl in early autumn. Heather died of cancer on 3rd September 2014 and is survived by her second husband, political theorist Professor Harro Höpfl, and her two sons, George and Max.
A leading expert and inspiring pioneer in Management Psychology, Heather brought an enormous range of theoretical understanding to her field, from Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Theology and Sociology, incorporating dramaturgical, psychoanalytic and feminist perspectives. She was also a valued and respected member of our Editorial Advisory Board, and those who were honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know her were immediately struck by her intelligence, warmth and pragmatism.
In recent years, much of Heather’s research focused on women’s writing, embodiment, and the relationship between gender and leadership. One of her publications recalls the time when she arrived at a London gentleman’s club to receive a prize for a paper she had written on women in management, only to be told that she could not enter unless she was signed in by a male member.
At Cambridge Scholars Publishing, we have dedicated our final communication of 2014 to commemorate Heather’s life, her academic success and the significant legacy she leaves behind.
To mark her contribution to her field and the wider academic community in general, we have named our dedicated author space, the Heather Höpfl room.
Our Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board, Professor Emeritus David Weir, shares his personal reminiscence…
“My first meeting with Heather was at Lancaster University in 1976. Gibson Burrell had invited me to be the External Examiner for the exciting department he was heading. The other speaker was Hugh Wilmott. I was woefully underprepared having driven down from Glasgow, straight from a heavy round of meetings. Hugh Wilmott was knowledgeable and scholarly and my ramblings paled into mutterings faced with his rigorous and seamless eloquence. Gibson had asked if “one of his brighter doctoral students” could act as rapporteur of my paper. Heather meticulously and kindly picked the few kernels of sense in my argument and repackaged them into a coherent flow that represented the sense of the argument that I wished I could have said first.
As a research fellow and then senior research fellow Heather spent the next few years at Lancaster University where she established a reputation as a scholar with eclectic interests and a strong command of the European philosophical and aesthetic traditions.
When Heather moved to Bolton Institute, her energies of knowledge and involvement could be united in a major project: she became the centre of a school in which concern for the student was paramount and deemed no less worthy than the scholarly enterprise, which saw no need for national boundaries or rankings of preferred research styles.
Heather was by now naturally functioning as a leader in our trade, becoming a pivot for the displays of others, a reason for their practice, and a tireless support for their careers. Her writing was always ‘critical’ but never sectarian; measured but always powerful.
When I moved to Northumbria as Dean and Director of the Business School, Heather was the person I wanted to lead one of the three major divisions of the School (Operations, Analysis and Human Resource Management) to integrate, organise, motivate and lead us in the right way. Heather was a magnificent leader, efficient, inspirational and nurturing, as well as deeply empathetic to those who wanted to learn, grow and contribute, while rightly, but silently, contemptuous of those who thought that high titles and corridor influence alone were the ways of the scholarly world. Heather would certainly have hated several aspects of this role, but she would have made a wonderful Vice Chancellor.
Later, Heather came on board as a visiting scholar to Liverpool Hope University where she was respected for her theological scholarship as she trod with great poise the boards of an institution based on a former seminary and a merger of a Catholic and an Anglican College of Education: she knew the inwardnesses of these traditions and respected their tensions and deep rhythms, and her giggle and astute judgements of people always enlivened these encounters.
|Heather Höpfl was a light that lit up the often grey bureaucratic terrain of University life, a free thinker who refused to be corralled by the tedious regiment of rankings, status and condescension. She was a real star and an inspiration, a role model and a nurturer. There are very few like her in our business and none better. At Essex she was accepted rightly as a world-leading scholar. Her work on women’s roles in organisations trod easily over ferocious turbulent waters. She wrote that in much of our theorising “the lady vanishes”; this was no simplistic gender-political rant, but a grounded argument that respected historical evidence and para-cultural tradition.|
The Catholic mystic Hildegard of Bingen wrote a short prayer that says “Grant me O’ Lord, the energy of wisdom.” Heather Höpfl had the energy of wisdom and the calm of empathy, based on a genuine love of her craft, and a deep and wide knowledge of books, plays, ritual and symbols that enabled her critique to supervene posturing and ranting, and above all, to exemplify a respect for others of all conditions, without diminishing the strength of her judgements. She will be very much missed.
‘Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young’.”