Our first doctorate
First PhD shows commitment to original research from the outset
The first doctorate awarded at Leicester was in 1924 to founding Geography Lecturer, Patrick Bryan, who earned a University of London PhD for ‘An enquiry into the major geographical factors conditioning the production and distribution of coal and iron in the United States of America,’ (shown being congratulated by our first Principal, Robert Rattray).
“It shows the importance of original research to the University right from its earliest years,” says William Farrell, Research Services Consultant for the Library.
Bryan drew on his thesis for his book North America: An Historical, Economic and Regional Geography, co-authored with LL Rodwell Jones, which became a standard text in print for 40 years. His Man’s Adaptation of Nature: Studies in Cultural Landscape was ahead of its time. A negative review of some of his work unfairly affected his research career, and Bryan was overlooked for a Chair when these were introduced. He was, however, awarded a long-overdue Honorary Professorship in his final year of work.
Bryan remained at Leicester for over 30 dedicated years. He served as Acting Principal before Frederick Attenborough’s arrival, he was Director of Vaughan College during the Second World War, a Vice-Principal for 15 years and Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1942.