Len Dalgliesh

I found out yesterday that my favourite University lecturer of all time, Len Dalgliesh, recently passed away at the age of 60 from Leukaemia.  I knew him when he worked in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland (UQ). He was my lecturer for a number of years teaching statistics. He was so funny and entertaining that he made this often dry subject interesting. I couldn’t wait to go to his classes every week.

When I started studying to become a psychologist at UQ I had no idea that statistics and research would play such a major part of the degree. I think they keep this fact carefully hidden from potential students in order not to frighten them away. Every term there was a least one statistics subject. I didn’t like mathematics at school so I was surprised to find that statistics quite agreed with me. Maybe because there was a direct relationship between the numbers and real life – applied statistics you could call it (using stats to assist in the understanding of psychology).

Anyway, I digress. Dr Len Dalgliesh worked for 29 years in the School of Psychology at UQ but left for a prestigious post in Scotland at the University of Stirling five years ago. He became Professor Len Dalgliesh and was doing important research in the field of judgement and decision making.  He was recently awarded the American Humane Society’s prestigious Vincent De Francis Award (their highest honour) for his work on decision making and child protection.

The Vincent De Francis award has only been awarded 18 times in its 34 year history. The award recognises those with the commitment and vision to reach across disciplines to improve child welfare systems on a national level.

John Fluke, Director of the American Humane’s Child Protection Research Centre said:

Professor Dalgleish’s research on child welfare decision making has made an important contribution in tying together decision making theory toward the improvement of outcomes for children and families who are involved with the child welfare system.

His work in developing the General Assessment and Decision Making model has provided a foundation for helping to focus child welfare decision making research and for improving child protection practice and policy in the US and internationally.

Professor William Lauder, head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery where Len Dalgliesh was working, had this to say:

In the early 1980s, Professor Dalgleish started to apply the theories and methods of psychology of decision making to key decisions in child protection such a ‘removal of the child from the family’ and ‘reunification’. He also worked on how risk in child protection could be thought about and developed practice tools – both for assessing risk and for linking assessments to decisions about action.

His research found that practitioners had different cut-points for acceptable risk, so that even though two people may agree on the risk, they disagree about what to do about it. He developed workshop tools to make these cut-points explicit, enabling people to discuss them. His contribution to improving child protection cannot be overstated and the Department of Nursing and Midwifery are proud to have this award made to a colleague.

Professor Dalgliesh passed away just days after receiving this award.

It is wonderful that the Professor received such a high honour before his death but terribly sad that a man of such talent and vision has died at such a young age, leaving behind a wife and 2 children (aged 12 and 14). To me he was a great teacher – they don’t make them any better.

Professor Len Dalgliesh RIP
Note: quotes are sourced from the University of Stirling Media news release