Regent’s University London planted cherry blossom trees in memory of beloved former staff member Lady Sophie Laws on Monday 23 July, the first day of the International Partners’ Conference 2018.
Lady Laws, who passed away on 27 June 2017, was the longest serving member of Regent’s academic staff on her retirement in 2016, and it is thanks to Lady Laws that Regent’s developed and strengthened its network of US affiliates. She visited many of them regularly, was always welcomed and reinforced relationships.
The decision to plant the tree during the International Partners’ Conference 2018 was made so that that the international partners, many of whom were very close to Lady Laws, could also be present from all over the world.
Vice Chancellor, Aldwyn Cooper, led the tributes to Lady Laws: 'Sophie, I understand from John, was very fond of the cherry blossom trees, and so these are three cherry blossom trees. In the spring it should be lovely to sit on her memorial bench with the blossoms overhead.
'I was speaking to a member of the gardening team earlier today, who said that they felt Sophie loved and understood the gardens, and she appreciated them very much.
'Sophie was beloved by everybody at Regent’s. The students, the academic staff, the support staff, the gardening team, the security team – everybody. It is a great tragedy that she was taken much too soon.
'Sophie was one of the longest serving members of the academic staff. She was here in total about 25 years, from the early days of Regent’s College, and then as we slowly became Regent’s University, and she contributed immensely in many different ways.'
Lady Laws started at Regent’s in 1985, almost from the first day that it existed, and moved from being a visiting lecturer to being Dean of the then Regent’s American College London.
In addition to her administrative duties, that she delivered well, she loved to teach and interact with students who liked her open, welcoming and well-informed style. She was also always willing to encourage and help staff with their careers.
It is thanks to Lady Laws that Regent’s developed and strengthened its network of US affiliates. She visited many of them regularly, was always welcomed and reinforced our relationships. At our annual partners and affiliates conference she made good presentations and updated people.
Through her connections and those of her husband Sir John Laws, a Lord Justice of Appeal, she was able to organise inspiring visits and events for conference delegates. She was also able to bring in excellent speakers from many different fields.
Lady Laws was also well-known for her organisation of the annual Christmas carols and readings. She persuaded people to join the choir, selected a balanced set of readings and strengthened the international family feel of Regent’s.