In Memory of David Benyon


Today is graduation day, and it is one of the happiest days of the year for an academic. But, it will be a sad day, as, yesterday, Edinburgh lost one of its finest adopted sons: David Benyon.

The word “inspirational” trips off people’s tongue so easily these days, but I cannot state how much David was an inspiration to me. In fact, he helped me at almost every stage of my career, and was always so positive in everything that he was involved with. To me, David was the role model for a Professor.

He was intelligent, helpful, warm, kind, supportive, positive, humble … everything that a great academic should be. There was never an angry word, or a negative comment … everything was just so supportive with David. He was also generous with his time too, and I remember spending many hours chatting to him. To drop in for a chat with David was always a big treat for me.

He leaves behind a whole lot of memories, and a great legacy of the work he has done within the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. Over the years he drove forward his subject area — Human Computer Interaction — but was so helpful in so many other areas, and in helping others he came in contact with.

In fact, it was always my joy to find out that he would be my PhD student’s thesis panel chair, as he had a way of making people feel special and supported.

It was typical for David to be so humble about his achievements, as seen from the bio for his best selling HCI book [here]:

I am a full professor at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, UK. I have been working in the area of HCI since 1984. I realise this sounds like a long time ago — and it is just about the entire history of the subject. However, we are still creating interactive products that are just not good enough. I am here to champion good design

I will greatly miss him in our weekly Professor meetings, as he lit up the room, with a true dedication and love of his work. He has been an inspiration to many students and academics around the world, and his book has become a standard in teaching HCI.

But he wasn’t just a great teacher, he knew exactly how great research worked, and collaborated with others across the world. From the minute he was recruited here, he helped build a strong research base, and it was one which span across the World. And he was so much fun to be around.

In an academic world that can create conflict, David supported and mentored. So, if you are looking for a perfect academic … then David fitted that role. He loved his world, his family, his adopted city, his school, and his university, and will be greatly missed by all who came in contact with him.

His legacy will live on. For me, he will always be the perfect academic, and someone I looked up too. I always felt happy for him to be around, and will miss him greatly.



Prof Bill Buchanan OBE FRSE
ASecuritySite: When Bob Met Alice

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. Based in Edinburgh. Old World Breaker. New World Creator. Building trust.