Professor Rob Potter (1950-2014)

As many members may already know, Rob Potter, Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading, and a leading academic in the areas of urban and development geographies, has died. Rob was an active member of DARG, serving on its committee, and co-editing The Contemporary Caribbean (Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2004) within the Group’s series of regional geography books. Previously Professor of Geography and Head of Department (1994-1999) at Royal Holloway, University of London, he joined Reading in 2003 and later became Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences. An elected Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences, Rob was awarded the higher doctorate degree of DSc by the University of Reading for his contributions to the fields of geographies of development and urban geography, with particular reference to Caribbean development studies.

Rob had a long and distinguished research career, with more than 30 books and monographs and over 250 journal articles and book chapters, and was founding editor of the journal Progress in Development Studies from 2001.  He also supervised over 30 PhD students, and was in constant demand as PhD examiner, journal manuscript referee and as external assessor for senior appointments both in the UK and overseas. He particularly enjoyed being in the field, whether on undergraduate fieldtrips or in the Caribbean.  He had over 30 years’ research association with the Eastern Caribbean, researching principally on urbanisation, housing  and planning, but also on, among others,  tourism, gender, returning migrants and human aspects of environmental hazard.   Rob always insisted on publishing not only in ‘high impact’ international journals, but also in Caribbean journals and other locally-accessible outlets.  Even during his illness, he continued working on the third edition of the Companion to Development Studies, which arrived just two days before he passed away.  This last publication was a fitting tribute to his contribution to scholarship in, and of, developing countries.

Rob was always very supportive of junior colleagues and especially of women in academia.  He maintained high moral standards and was a person with great integrity. He was very fond of his text books and worked very hard in getting them published and they were very successful.  He privately and bravely battled with cancer since 2009.  He will be greatly missed. If anyone is wishing to make a donation in memory of Rob can do so by sending a cheque made payable to either ‘The Pilgrims Hospice’ Canterbury or the Royal Free Trustees Grant (311) “The Quiet Cancer Appeal” at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

 (with thanks to the RGS and Vandana Desai)