Reginald Phillips Research Unit By John Walker

In Sussex University, there were interest in deaf education, which led to the Phillips Deaf Unit. This page explores how the unit was established.

Reginald M. Phillips of Brighton

Photo:Norman MacKenzie, Reginald Phillips and Vice Chancellor Asa Briggs

Norman MacKenzie, Reginald Phillips and Vice Chancellor Asa Briggs

University of Sussex Library

Mr Phillips was an owner of a company that built specialist properties in return for a higher rent. Companies agreed to rent a property off the plan, which was specially designed to house their technology and logistical requirements. Over the years, Phillips acquired substantial wealth. But he was also a man who was desperate for recognition. Although he was honoured by the Queen and received a honorary degree from University of Sussex; he wanted to be the first Lord of Brighton. For this very reason, he titled himself as 'Reginald M. Phillips of Brighton'.

At University of Sussex, he shared three interests and sponsored them. He was an avid philatelic and donated his entire stamp collection, including the precious black penny stamp. University of Sussex opened a philatelic help desk in the Library. He also supported the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), which spearheaded science and technology research regardless of changes in political leadership; especially when scientific progress lasted beyond the natural life of governments.

Lastly, he supported the Phillips Deaf Unit, as it was called, which focussed on educational research. He gave a total, in today's value, £1 million.

Educational Development Building

Photo:Education Development Building, now called Silverstone Building, on University of Sussex campus.

Education Development Building, now called Silverstone Building, on University of Sussex campus.

John Walker

Professor Norman McKenzie led the Centre for Educational Development at University of Sussex. At the time when Phillips was interested to donate, he showed interest in the work with deaf children. The Education Development Building was the home of educational research, methods and TV/Media. At the time, Open University was in its infancy and there was interest to expand education to the territorial channels. For many years (and still today), Open University taught subjects on BBC2 documentaries - this idea was conceived at University of Sussex.

Phillips was also acquainted with Dr. William 'Bill' John Watts, a teacher of the deaf from East Sussex. Bill was appointed as the Assistant Director for the new unit and led much of the research development there. He employed the resources the Centre of Educational Development had to offer. He made a film and supported the development of educational research and research on deaf and hard of hearing people.

The Educational Development Building is now called the Silverstone Building and situated on the University of Sussex campus.

The launch in 1972

Photo:Plaque in Silverstone Building

Plaque in Silverstone Building

John Walker

The Phillips Deaf Unit began in 1968, but it was not until 1972 when the unit was officially launched. A plaque was revealed in 1972, which included the face of Reginald Phillips and the following words:

"A generous benefaction from his Foundation provided the Reginald M. Phillips Laboratory and Research Unit in this building to develop new educational techniques for deaf and other handicapped children. This plaque records the appreciation of the University of Sussex for this gift from a distinguished Brighton resident and philanthropist."

This page was added on 30/08/2012.

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