City, University of London is saddened to announce the passing of Professor Rosemary Hollis

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City, University of London is saddened to announce the passing of Professor Rosemary Hollis. She will be deeply missed by her many friends, colleagues and students across the University.

Rosemary, who was Professor of Middle East Policy Studies until she retired in 2018, was a much-loved colleague and friend to many at City. Widely acknowledged as an internationally renowned expert on Middle East policy, her writing, teaching, and research focused on international political and security ideas in the Middle East, particularly UK, European, EU and US relations with the region and the international dimensions of regional conflicts.

Prior to joining City in March 2008, Rosemary was Director of Research at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs), with overall responsibility for the research and publications output of the institute, including the formulation, funding, quality, and delivery of projects.

Rosemary left Chatham House to join us at City as the new Director of the Olive Tree Scholarship Programme which awarded scholarships for exceptional Palestinian and Israeli students. The students participated in a specially designed parallel programme – in conjunction with their academic studies – in order to promote further understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Programme enabled students to better understand the drivers of the conflict that had shaped their lives and prospects in the Middle East, through cross-conflict dialogue, the study of their respective national narratives and narrative mediation.

Rosemary was especially proud of the students who passed through this programme, many of them winning scholarships for postgraduate study, gaining placements in business, becoming prominent figures in their communities and skilled professionals, and moving quickly into high office. Amongst those was MK Stav Shaffir, the youngest ever member of the Israeli Parliament.

Professor Miguel Mera, Interim Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences at City, said:

“We are very sad to hear about Rosemary’s passing. She was a highly respected academic expert who was a true inspiration to her colleagues and students. She touched many of our lives and her legacy of rigorous research, encouraging respectful dialogue and nurturing knowledge and learning will live on through her students. I would like to particularly acknowledge her exceptional work on the Olive Tree Programme which made a real difference to promoting understanding and fellowship between Israeli and Palestinian students.”

If you have tributes, stories or photos you would like to share in memory of Rosemary, please visit this memorial page to add them.

Some of Rosemary’s colleagues have written tributes in memory of Rosemary which can be read below.

Dr Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer in International Politics

“Rosemary has been for me a role model as a successful professional woman with character. Delivering high-profile talks or giving media interviews she was always a towering figure with her firm, direct and sometimes apparently brusque style, with no frills and no un-necessary compliments.

“I must admit the first time I met her at a seminar while I was doing my PhD, I even found her somewhat intimidating. At that point I knew her as an established figure in the world of Diplomacy and Public Policy about the Middle East. But then I had the privilege to get to know her closely as a colleague, as she put her soul and body into the Olive Tree programme (which flourished exceptionally under her leadership), as she passionately taught and assessed various UG and MA courses for our International Politics Department, including a very successful applied Master module on Strategy, Diplomacy and Decision-Making that she created, and we shared the supervision of a number of doctoral students.

“And there I discovered an amazing person: loving, caring, motherly, who addressed with enormous respect and dignity every student and problem that they might have, who gave precious practical advice about life and being a human person, not just about achievement in a university context. This attitude transpired also in her contribution to the AM and EC panels that she took so seriously.

“So, as we grew closer, I admired more and more the woman, this undeclared feminist, who certainly had achieved fame and publications. But the publications and the fame were no longer the main reason why I came to admire and respect her. Rather, her loving no fuss presence that we are missing so deeply now.”

Dr Leonie Fleischmann, Lecturer in International Relations

"As a new PhD student in the Department of International Politics at City, I was both intimidated by and completely in awe of Rosemary. I immediately knew I wanted to be in her orbit, to feed off her confidence and learn how to hold a room with even just a hint of the poise, clarity and wit that she did. She was a mentor to many, but especially young women who aspired to find their place in male-dominated fields. I thank her for doing the hard work and paving the way for us."

Ms Seila Panizzolo, PhD student

"Rosemary was the most encouraging and inspirational teacher one could wish for. She never wanted to let people down and always did more than what was required of her. She was astonishing in the way in which she used to stand by her own perspectives and principles. She would also stand by others, even in the most challenging circumstances. As Rosemary’s last PhD supervisee, I struggle to find the right words to thank her for the commitment and support she showed me until the very end, and for the positive impact she has had on me as a researcher and as a person. I strongly hope her legacy will stay with us for years to come".

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