Staffordshire University pays tribute to Professor Ray Johnson

Staffordshire University alumni joined current staff and students in paying tribute to retired film professor and local legend, Ray Johnson.

The Film Heritage and Documentary Professor retired this summer after teaching at Staffs for over four decades.

Ray said: “It has been a pleasure to meet up with old friends and particularly hear about the success of our students”.

“Any teaching in school, college or university is about the students, it has to be. Their success is the university’s success and it’s great that they’ve had the generosity to come and say such kind things.”

Founder of the Staffordshire Film Archive in 1980, which resides at the University, Ray has tirelessly produced and collected footage which details the social history of Staffordshire.

The celebrated collection archives and presents the ever-changing face of the region and is widely used in television, film and documentaries.

His achievements for putting Staffordshire on the map received a royal stamp of approval in 2011, when he was awarded an MBE in the Queens New Years Honours List.

Gary Kelsall, Senior Lecturer in Media, Journalism & Cultural Studies, organised the tribute in recognition of Ray's "incredible service" to the university. 

He added: "Ray's name has become synonymous with Stoke and Staffordshire and with Staffordshire University and his value has rubbed off on the university, its students and colleagues as he's always in the news for good things." 

First appointed as a Liberal Studies lecturer in 1969, when Staffordshire University was known as North Staffordshire College of Technology, Ray has witnessed its transformation throughout the years.

“When I started you had part-time courses, day-release courses and night classes and you saw a different mix of students, but the amount of contact with the local community has thread right through.”

Ray added: “As courses change and develop, facilities and schools change; your area of expertise grows. It has been a very enjoyable and interesting journey.”

Chris Priestman, Head of Curriculum Development & Delivery, said:"As a generous teacher and as an ambassador for the Faculty, the University and the wider community, he's been a great inspiration and will continue to be a great inspiration in his role as Emeritus Professor."

Past students who have since set up their own production company in Staffordshire praised Ray’s guidance and support.

Joe Gordon, who set up video production company Reels In Motion with fellow graduates Matt Hubbard and Phil Bland in 2004, said:"We've known Ray for 10 years now and out of all our lecturers he was the one who was most active in the media industry and would always speak from experience. 

"He was our 'go to guy' - if we needed a name, a phone number, a piece of kit. Ray also helped us on our film (Pulp) and still helps on set, with contacts and voiceovers - we just want to be able to repay the favours he's done for us."

Ray thanked everyone for attending and for their kind words. He said teaching gave him a sense of achievement when "hearing the sound of the penny dropping" with his students. 

He added: "I think if the student isn't better than the teacher then the teacher has failed."


Maria Scrivens
Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Public Relations
L600, Flaxman Building
College Road
t: +44 (0)1782 294375
m: 07766 520339