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Issue 473, 19 November 2001

Professor HTA (John) Whiting

Professor H T A (John) Whiting died on 7 October 2001, aged 71 years.

Professor H T A (John) Whiting was a former member of staff in the Department of Physical Education. A student at Loughborough College from 1950-53 where he gained a Teachers’ Certificate and the Loughborough Diploma, with distinctions in Physical Education, Mathematics and Games, Professor Whiting spent several years teaching Physical Education in secondary schools before being appointed, in January 1960, to the post of Assistant in the Department of Physical Education at Leeds. He was promoted to Lecturer in 1964, and to Senior Lecturer in 1970. During his time in the University, Professor Whiting completed an MA in Psychology (1964) and was awarded his PhD in Experimental Psychology three years later.

Professor Whiting was a highly regarded lecturer, very popular with his students and also in great demand as a visiting speaker. He resigned from Leeds in March 1977 after seventeen years’ service to the University, in order to take up the Chair of Psychology at the Free University of Amsterdam. By that time, John Whiting had already established an international scholarly reputation, his book ‘Acquiring Ball Skill’, published in 1969, being one of the first texts to do justice to the complexity of sports skills using techniques from experimental psychology. Later he extended his research to new areas marrying concepts and ideas from psychology (direct perception), philosophy (tacit knowledge) and physiology (degrees of freedom) into the emerging theories of dynamical systems. John Whiting published prolifically in books and the best journals, organised prestigious conferences such as the one sponsored by the NATO Scientific Committee in 1985, and through these and his numerous PhD students has had a lasting influence on the field of motor control and learning. In retirement, he maintained an active association with the University of York, as an Honorary Professor.

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