by Sabrina Blakstad, Registrar's Office
28 November 2014 Architectural Association, London   In a lecture at the AA a few years ago, Dennis Crompton said “part of the history of the AA is moving from one scene of turmoil to another.”  And retiring Registrar Marilyn Dyer, during her past 44 years working at the School, has been instrumental in helping steer the AA safely out of myriad scenes of turmoil. In the ten happy years that I have worked closely with Marilyn in the Registrar’s Office, I have seen one crisis after another overcome.   Marilyn, with her clear, blue eyes and fast-typing, clicking, fabulously-painted finger nails has worked very hard, managing as Registrar, to walk that fine tight-rope, to maintain the subtle balance between rigid, official bureaucracy to keep the AA as a validated, recognised independent School, which both adheres to the ever-tightening rules and labyrinthine regulations imposed by the UK government’s official bodies - the Visa and Immigration Office, Quality Assurance Agency, Student Loans Company, Open University, RIBA, ARB –– and still retain the freedom, the true spirit of what the AA has always been and hopefully always will be.
[caption id="attachment_3792" align="alignnone" width="360"]Marilyn__Sabrina_VB_20141 Marilyn & Sabrina
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption] As Marilyn jokes, “We are not black or white at the AA… and never the twain shall meet!” Marilyn has managed all this with warmth and a sense of humour, with great strength, determination, imagination, intelligence, sensitivity, understanding and true integrity. Students, staff, externals… over the years, all passed through the office, interesting, hard-working, creative, stressed, successful, famous, eccentric… Marilyn found time for each one; there was never a dull moment, always a multitude of characters and stories.
When things got really chaotic, Marilyn would answer her phone with “Battersea Dogs Home” or say “Beam me up, Scottie!” - for Marilyn has seen it all: the hallways painted bright blue, live chickens in the library, a flock of sheep for the Christmas party, former Chairman Alvin Boyarsky riding an elephant through Bedford Square, a student bitten by a wild monkey on a unit trip, a First Year project to replace the ladies toilet cubicle-door with one made of chocolate and sweets, the rubbish bin in the Foundation room set on fire, Mark Fisher’s Flea Project … “And they had fleas - there’s not a lot you can say, really”, said Marilyn.   But what can say, is that there is no one more deserving than Marilyn of receiving the AA Honorary Diploma and the RIBA Honorary Fellowship. And I think I can speak on behalf of a great many of us, AA staff, students and alumni alike, to say: Thank You for everything, you were always there through thick and through thin, you will be hugely missed. And, finally, to quote former DRL Director Tom Verebes:  “All the best Marilyn - you've always been the least mad one in the mad house!”