Fond Farewell for Long-Standing UKZN Staff Member
The Classics Department in the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently bade farewell to a good colleague, friend and Classics Lecturer, Ms Aileen Bevis, who has worked at the University for the past 40 years!
Former Acting College Dean of Research, Professor Donal McCracken , thanked Bevis for being a firm, loyal and integral servant of the University and for her remarkable service: ‘I recall coming to work on weekends and I would see Aileen in her office; even when I worked late, she would still be in her office,’ said McCracken.
Colleagues described Bevis as passionate, dedicated, gifted and a knowledgeable linguist, and a self-sacrificing professional who always put her colleagues and the Department first.
Former Classics Lecturer, Dr Adrian Ryan, said: ‘When I arrived at the Department as a fresh-faced and terrified first-year student, Aileen was a lecturer who had a reputation among the students for her industry, rigour, and dedication, and for possessing an intimidating knowledge of the Classical languages.’
Another former colleague, Professor William Dominik, who worked closely with Bevis for many years, thanked her for being a great and positive influence. ‘I am just one of many people you have affected positively in your career and life. I wish you a happy time at home away from the University.’
Bevis graduated in 1969 with an Honours degree in Classics from the University of Cape Town where she was recognised for her academic excellence with several awards and with the Hyman Lieberman and the Queen Victoria Scholarships, enabling her to study at Cambridge University.
She worked in various capacities at several universities before being permanently employed at what was then the University of Natal, Durban, as a Lecturer in Classics.
However, in 1999 she faced difficulties after a series of downsizing exercises saw her redeployed to administration as the Manager of the new Humanities Faculty: ‘It was hard for me to come to terms with the loss of my academic job and it took time to accept the change, but I found aspects of my new job challenging and interesting. Nevertheless, I was very happy to be invited back into Classics when I retired,’ she said.
Throughout the difficulties, Bevis’s family supported and motivated her. ‘I was blessed to have a husband who understood and accepted my late working hours.’
Some of her most interesting moments came after she had been re-hired to teach Latin in the Department of Classics.
What advice does she have for women academics? ‘I never saw myself tackling a job specifically as a woman, rather as the person I was, and doing it to the best of my ability.’
Bevis is moving to the Western Cape to spend quality time with her family.