In Memory

Jim Council

January 2010:

It is with great sadness that we record the passing of Jim Council on 16 January 2010. For very many years, Jim taught philosophy and art history in the UK. Amongst the courses he taught was one he developed himself on the history and culture of Cambridge, which regularly attracted many students over the years. A photograph of Jim taking his students into Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, hangs in the Heidelberg headquarters. An active participant in the intellectual life of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Jim was a Life Fellow of Clare Hall and a Senior Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.

Amongst the letters of recommendation supporting Jim's original application to teach for UMUC is one from Sir Isaiah Berlin, the philosopher and founding president of Wolfson College, Oxford. Sir Isaiah wrote of Jim that he was "a natural and enthusiastic seeker of the truth and an occasional finder of it," an estimation which captures to a great extent the spirit in which Jim approached his study and his teaching of the Humanities. We shall miss him.

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07/12/16 12:30 PM #1    

Patrick Quinn

For me, Jim was a typical Marylander of the period. Eccentric and full of surprises such as the first time he invited me over for dinner to his rambling home on the Woodstock Road. The house was covered with second hand books and the kitchen could barely be found amidst the clutter and bags of books. Throughout the years, Jim became one of those travelling soldier of UofM who covered any place that a job could provide enough money to survive and buy more books. Inevitably he would irritate some student or Educational Officer at a base by doing something silly but well in keeping with his own sense of decorum. 

But Jim was a generous person, always willing to give students and faculty members his attention and time for a chat. He has a good sense of humour and enjoyed talking ancient philosophy with anyone who felt like a long, digressive dialogue. He rode his bike throughout Oxford and a number of times I almost got run down when he soared up behind me on the way to the library or shopping. Male, quirky, independent and slightly mad, he was the typical Marylander in the 1990s.

07/12/16 12:57 PM #2    

Sharon Skibinski (Kissick)

I was saddened to read it 6 years ago.... We never think of our professors - or anyone - leaving this world.  Patrick captured him best.  Especially quirky, eccentric, and even a little mad!   I had a couple of classes with a student, he inspired and aspired to pull information out of us...He wanted more the lines and paint splash of color in his art history class, rather than memorizing dates and times...He was more about feeling and being and pulled the philosophy into the art history....His philosophy class was one of my first introductions to speaking my mind...and hearing much of what is lacking today in college....too many closed minds.   As a colleague, yes, you never knew what would happen with Jim...from leaving his briefcase in the education center right after 9/11....oh dear!  I have wondered about him, and glad he has found his peace.  He had a great, great life, one that UMUC did well at helping provide....RIP, Jim...

07/13/16 02:20 PM #3    

Merrily Stover

I, too, was saddened to read of Jim's death.  For me, I remember his guided tours at the FitzWilliam Musuem for U.K. and Iceland faculty at our quarterly meetings in Cambridge.  I looked forward to those tours, and if we ever had a meeting without them, things felt flat.  :(    I learned not only about art, but about history and language, and so much else.  His presence and his knowledge made a difference for me during those years of teaching for Maryland in London.

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