James Trainer

8th March 2013 at 00:00
A German scholar, former deputy principal and emeritus professor at the University of Stirling

Professor James Trainer, who has died at the age of 80, was an eminent scholar of the German language and its literature.

He gained an international reputation for his lecturing and was a highly respected member of staff at the University of Stirling for 30 years as professor of German.

Such was his reputation, Professor Trainer served with distinction as a visiting professor at Yale and California universities. But it was his absolute conviction in the greatness of German art, music and literature - especially the Romantic period of the 19th century - that marked him out as an exceptional scholar. The unstable political situation of the post-war years and the division of the country, let alone his beloved Berlin, never altered his belief in the country and its people.

He was born in Dublin, the son of officers in the Salvation Army. During their posting to Dundee, he attended Morgan Academy and then read languages at the University of St Andrews. He continued his studies at the Free University of Berlin where he met his wife, Barbara, and in 1961 witnessed the Berlin Wall's construction.

Professor Trainer worked for 10 years at the University of St Andrews and was then a founding professor at the University of Stirling when it was created around the picturesque Airthrey Loch in 1967. He expanded the department and built up an enviable reputation for his teaching, extensive research and transcription of 19th-century manuscripts.

Bruce Thompson, who was a lecturer at Stirling with Professor Trainer, remembers him as "an extremely helpful colleague - always calm and rather formal but students and staff greatly respected him".

Professor Trainer served under three vice-chancellors and provided a steadying influence as the university experienced some difficult years.

"There was the unfortunate demonstration when the Queen visited in 1972 (she was booed by a group of student protesters) and Jim chaired the disciplinary committee - very thoroughly and with much authority. He also had to contend with financial cuts from central government and a severe fall in student numbers," Dr Thompson recalls.

Professor Trainer was active on many academic committees in Scotland, notably the Scottish Examination Board and the National Library of Scotland, and was a governor of Morrison's Academy in Crieff.

In more than 30 years of service to Stirling, he served in a range of roles, including that of deputy principal - a post to which he was appointed in 1975. He retired and received his emeritus professor status in 1997.

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