In memoriam: Prof. William (Billy) John Fraser

Posted on January 11, 2019

Prof. William (Billy) John Fraser, who was Emeritus Professor in the Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education in the Faculty of Education, has sadly passed away. He was appointed in 1997 and retired in 2014, after which he was again appointed on a contract basis in the same department.

Prof. Fraser held a BSc degree in Biological Sciences, and did his PhD degree in Didactics.

His work experience included: The University of South Africa; Vista University; the Human Sciences Research Council, and he was a teacher at schools between 1977 and 1983.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (CBIOL, FRSB); Member of EASA (Education Association of South Africa); Member of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI); Member of the Royal Society of South African (MRSSAf) (2002-2017) and a Member of the European Research in the Didactics of Biology (ERIDOB).

Prof. Fraser was supervised 71 MEd and PhD students. He wrote 42 chapters in academic publications and wrote articles in peer-reviewed and accredited publications. He delivered keynote addresses at world-wide conferences and congresses.

He was the sub-editor of the Turkish Online Journal for Distance Education; Consulting Editor (International Consultant) for the Journal of Biological Education; sub-editor of the International Journal of Instruction and Section Editor at times of Die Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie.

He was a referee and examined dissertations and theses for the Universities of South Africa, the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, North West, Free State and Stellenbosch. He reviewed articles for most national education journals in South Africa, the Turkish Online Journal for Distance Education, the International Journal of Instruction, and the International Journal of Biological Education.

Prof. Fraser was involved in many national and international research projects. He received a C2 rating with the National Research Foundation in January 2007 and again from 2012. It was also confirmed in November 2018.

He was a member of the Royal Society of South Africa, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, London (CBIOL; FRSB). He was the primary co-ordinator of the fourth-year initiative for Research in Education (FIRE) Project.

In 2016 and 2017, his research outputs included four published accredited articles, and two book chapters.

A few of the awards he won included:

  • Listed by the International Council of Associations for Science Education (ICASE) in Who's Who in Science Education around the World 1991 edition;
  • Recipient of the Butterworth-Degenaar prize for research in the Department of Didactics in 1993/4;
  • Recipient of the OVSA-SANLAM Research medal in 1993;
  • Recipient of the Chancellor's Prize for Research, University of South Africa, 1997;
  • Recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Teaching and Learning, University of Pretoria, 2008.    

Prof. Fraser will always be remembered as an outstanding academic staff member with a notable research record.

“We remember his whistling when walking up the stairs in the early morning, chatting from door to door, having morning coffee with colleagues,” said Prof. Estelle Gaigher, Acting Head: Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. “He cared about all colleagues, interested in their personal lives, encouraging them, giving advice on professional matters. He was able to see the other side of an issue, to make well-balanced decisions, always prepared to give benefit where there was doubt. He was tolerant of shortcomings, appreciative of strengths. Prof. Fraser was a happy and inspirational colleague, mentor and friend. We were privileged to have worked with him. His spirit of compassion will live amongst us.”

Memorial Service

Date: Monday, 14 January at 14:00.

Address: Dutch Reformed Church 'Noord-Oos', 58 Kamferbos Street (corner of Anna Wilson and Kamferbos), Kilner Park, Pretoria. 

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