KMi hosted a visit this week by Dr. Susan Olson, who was seeing the Walton Hall campus for the first time in 30 years. As a PhD research student from Ohio State University, USA, Dr. Olson received a bursary which enabled her to come to the UK to study the Open University and its pioneering role as a distance learning organisation.
Having heard about the work of the OU from academics in her home country, she was eager to learn more about how people from all social backgrounds could study for a degree without first having to satisfy academic selection criteria; her bursary enabled her to establish a study base in London and also at Walton Hall for a perod of three months in 1972.
Whilst researching her PhD, she spent a great deal of time interviewing production staff at the BBC’s Open University Production Centre (then at Alexandra Palance, London, prior to its move to purpose-built premises in Milton Keynes) and also at the university’s Walton Hall campus. During her stay in England, she also found time to visit numerous other Universities around the country. As part of her research, she accumulated audio-taped interviews with many key figures, both at the OU and in the BBC; these tapes are still in Dr. Olson’s possession, and she is hopeful that they will one day be incorporated into a digital archive of the history of “the university that has opened up a world of learning to so many people who would otherwise not have access to higher-education” .
During her visit to KMi she recorded a video interview, a segment of which is available for viewing using the link below (Requires Quicktime).