Professor William H. Dutton
Senior Fellow, Advisory Board Member
Bill Dutton was the OII’s Founding Director, a Fellow of Balliol College and the first Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford University.
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our founding director William Dutton, who after twelve years at the Oxford Internet Institute will be leaving to take up the Directorship of the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law, at Michigan State University.
As the founding Director of the OII, Bill was the driving force behind the growth and development of the department, and was largely responsible for making it what it is today; the greatest multi-disciplinary department of Internet Studies at a major university, at the forefront of research on the Internet and its relationship with society. Of course, his energy and vision mean that — wherever he is — he will always be at the forefront of the field of Internet research, and in shaping its future.
Always open to ideas and innovation, he had a vision for the department, and determinedly stuck out for what was needed in the early days to make that vision possible. To quickly build some critical mass, he established a Visitor Programme that brought international faculty to work here while we recruited our own Fellows. He decided that our academic mark would be made by generating rigorous empirical data and research about Internet use, in a field too often marked by expectation and wild conjecture. In the face of initial delays in establishing our graduate degree programmes, he set up the Summer Doctoral Programme to bring excellent PhD students through our doors and create a global network of alumni.
While there have been many concrete successes on Bill’s watch – the research grants won, the degree programmes established, the faculty hired – it’s the more intangible strengths of the department that owe so much to him. It’s thanks to Bill’s warmth and humour that the OII is such a friendly place to work. It’s also thanks to him that we have such an open, collaborative research environment; a place with a feeling of infinite possibility and freedom.
Bill – thank you for everything – you’ll be so missed! You will always be an integral part of the OII, irrevocably intertwined with our activities and plans. We hope that your new role in Michigan will not be the end of that, but rather the start of a vibrant new working relationship.