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6th January, 2021

Central’s Dean of School, Professor Ross Brown, Retires

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama - University of London

In December Central’s Dean of School, Professor Ross Brown, officially retired from his post after 26 years of dedicated service to the School.

A prolific and award-winning designer, composer and performer with extensive industry experience, Professor Brown joined Central in 1994 as a teacher and researcher.  Between 1994 and 2002, he designed and led Central’s BA and MA Courses in Theatre Sound Design – the first of their kind in the United Kingdom.  In 1996, he was one of the School’s first members of staff to reframe their artistic practice as research and submit to the Research Assessment Exercise, thus helping to lay the foundation for the establishment of Central’s research department.

In 2002, Professor Brown became a member of the School’s Senior Management Team. Under his oversight, and through the pivotal role he played in the development of Central’s world-leading academic programmes, Central was subsequently granted the power to award its own taught degrees, was named the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s designated Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre, became a College of the University of London, was awarded Gold Status in the Teaching Excellence Framework, and secured specialist funding through the Review of Institution Specific Targeted Allocations (RISTA).

In 2014, Professor Brown’s Impact Case Study The Professional Development of Theatre Sound was submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) alongside two other case studies from Central’s Dr Catherine McNamara and Dr Amanda Stuart-Fisher, and this collective research helped to secure Central a world-leading (4*) research profile, the highest of all the assessed drama and music conservatoires in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professor Brown’s research has been instrumental in shaping theatre sound into a specialist discipline in its own right. It has influenced the practices, organisation and status of sound within professional theatre and has helped make sound design a more central artistic consideration of theatre production, thus raising its profile in the industry.

He has also published widely.  In particular, his 2010 book Sound: A Reader in Theatre Practice is a standard text on dramaturgy of sound in UK universities and used heavily outside the UK, having been described as ‘one of the most significant contributions to the field of theatre sound design and composition‘.

Of Professor Brown’s contributions to Central, its Interim Principal Professor George Caird said:

“In his 26 years at Central, Ross Brown has played a unique role as professional practitioner, teacher, researcher, pedagogue, administrator and leader. His experience and wisdom has been felt throughout Central and in the wide range of connections that have been forged externally. His inspiration and the many innovations that he brought to Central will be long lasting, but he will be hugely missed by us all.”

Central’s Deputy Principal and Clerk to Governors Debbie Scully said:

“It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with Ross as a colleague and friend over the past twenty-six years. His care and attention to staff and the student experience coupled with his creativity, passion and flair have overseen a number of ground-breaking developments to make Central what it is today. We wish Ross well in his early retirement and look forward to his continuing association with Central in years to come.”

Read more about Professor Brown’s work and scholarship, as well as his extensive contributions to both Central and the academic enquiry of theatre sound here.

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