Many of you will have seen the sad news that our dear friend and colleague Dr Amal Treacher Kabesh passed away in Cairo on 10 January, just four months after retiring. While other colleagues have taken time to remember her brilliant academic career, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on Amal’s enormous contribution to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) across the university.
Many of us had the pleasure of knowing and working with Amal in her role as co-chair of the Sphere programme board. She was instrumental in supporting initiatives that enhance our knowledge, understanding and delivery of EDI in the university. Amal’s valued contributions to the Sphere programme and involvement in the recognition months are testament to her commitment to tackling injustices that pervade our daily lives and especially underrepresented groups.
In 20/21 she chaired all programme boards celebrating recognition months at the university. Amal’s warmth and wit were key in ensuring diverse groups of staff from all levels and areas of the university and Student Union felt welcome, included, and able to contribute.
Amal was highly active in the EDI space within the Faculty of Social Sciences. She was the Director of Staff Development and Lead for EDI within the School of Sociology and Social Policy for three years, and she also chaired the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Sphere Challenge on Decolonising the Curriculum from 20-21. Amal was hugely passionate about all aspects of EDI, she was refreshingly honest and never afraid to challenge or ask the difficult questions.
Her warmth and approachability meant that she easily built a rapport and sense of community within groups, whilst taking the lead on navigating them through challenging areas of EDI.
She was hugely committed to tackling inequality and her legacy will continue through the work of these groups. In 2021 Amal was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of her outstanding contribution to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion at the university. This accolade is reserved for just a small number of staff for exceptional achievements.
While we remember Amal’s brilliance as a colleague, we also need to emphasise what a wonderful human being she was – always kind and supportive, Amal was generous with her encouragement to others, ensuring people saw and valued their strengths, she was quite insistent on it! Her sense of humour, particularly as we navigated our way through difficult personal and professional challenges during the pandemic made work joyous where it might otherwise have felt insurmountable. She was a constant source of inspiration and reassurance and her help and support for the EDI coordinators team was immeasurable.
Sarah Sharples, PVC for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and People from 2018-2021 said “Amal was a joy to work with in delivery of our recognition months. She had the perfect balance of being a critical friend, not afraid to challenge when she thought things needed to be changed, and being a collaborator, happy to get involved and work together to deliver things. I know that her work made a real difference to people’s lives and inclusion around the University and am so grateful for how much I learned from her during the time we worked together.”
Raheela Khan, co-chair of Sphere Programme board said: “Our paths had not crossed before I met Amal as part of the Sphere Programme. We had much in common and became good friends, sadly for a very short time. I take comfort knowing that Amal had enriched my life and conversations through our friendship.”
Other tributes to Amal can be found at: