Brian Titley is professor emeritus in the Faculty of Education, the University of Lethbridge. A native of Cork, Ireland, he completed an undergraduate degree in history at the National University of Ireland before emigrating to Canada where he spent a number of years teaching in public schools. A B.Ed. and M.Ed. from the University of Manitoba followed, and in 1980 he earned a Ph.D. in the history of education from the University of Alberta. After a decade teaching in the Faculty of Education, the University of Alberta, he resigned his position to move to the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge where he joined his wife, Jane O’Dea, who had been appointed assistant professor there some months previously. Jane, a classical pianist with a Ph.D. in the philosophy of education, went on to become dean of the faculty and served in that capacity for a decade.
Brian’s research interests have always been eclectic and he has six books to his name that examine authority and resistance in diverse historical epochs and settings: Africa, Canada, Ireland, and the United States of America. The books, listed on this website, attempt to provide a more critical perspective on their subjects than is found in conventional histories. For example, A Narrow Vision (1996) featured the first exposé of the system of residential schooling conducted by the federal government and the major Christian churches for Indigenous peoples in Canada. These schools are now recognized as the darkest chapter in Canadian history. One consequence of this new understanding is the disappearance of the heroic missionary from the national narrative as interpreted by secular scholars.
Brian has also produced more than 40 book chapters and articles – the latter appearing in journals such as: Etudes Amérindiennes au Québec, Historical Studies in Education, History of Education Revue, Journal of Educational Thought, Oxford Review of Education, Paedagogica Historica, Prairie Forum, and Revue des sciences de l’éducation. And he has contributed eight essays to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. In 2008 he was appointed his faculty’s first University Scholar, and a year later was awarded the Ingrid Speaker Gold Medal in Research.
In 1990 Brian was elected president of the Canadian History of Education Association/Association canadienne d’histoire de l’éducation and organized the association’s biennial conference in Lethbridge in 1992. He also served for five years as book review editor of its journal, Historical Studies in Education. In 2010 CHEA/ACHE presented him with its award for “outstanding contribution to the history of education in Canada.”
In the latter half of the 1990s administrative ineptitude, procedural irregularities, and violations of academic freedom in his faculty led Brian to take an active role in the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (the professors’ syndicat or union). He spent a total of seven years on the Association’s executive, mainly as grievance officer but also as president. During this time he conducted several appeals/arbitrations on behalf of professors whose rights and even job security were threatened. He was also involved in numerous workshops for colleagues on academic freedom, the grievance procedure, and the mechanisms governing tenure and promotion. In 2013, the Canadian Association of University Professors presented him with its dedicated service award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association.”
In 1998 Brian organized the first annual chess tournament that pitted a team of professors against a team of students. The tournament, possibly unique to the University of Lethbridge, continues today and a large trophy records the winners’ names for every year. Mirabile dictu, the professors’ team has scored the most victories over the years.
Since retirement in 2013, Brian divides his time between homes on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Dublin, Ireland, where he continues to write. Brian and Jane have two daughters, three grandsons, and no critters.