In memory of Paul Benneworth

Paul and Julia

Almost a decade collaborating with Paul has been more than enough to witness all the attributes that many colleagues are highlighting about him: a person extremely engaging, supportive, brilliant and inspiring in both the professional and personal spheres of his life.

Paul was very engaged with his work by proposing different approaches and brilliant ideas to address complex problems and to advance knowledge. He was involved in a huge number of projects (co-publications with a wide diversity of scholars, participation in international research projects, in international networks), and even when it looked that it was impossible to add an additional project into his busy professional life, if the project was attractive and challenging, it was difficult for him to not get involved. When an academic discussion was getting more and more interesting but it was late or the office was not anymore a creative ambient, he used to propose to move the discussion to a bar, with a beer and something to eat, and the evening used to finish with an interesting future project written in a napkin and some pictures of the napkin shared through whatsapp for not loosing such great ideas! He used to say that “brilliant minds think alike”, but I also know that he was the brilliant mind and fortunately I was just learning a lot from him.

Paul was also very committed with sports. He loved to play football and to write about football. He was a committed runner, bringing his sport clothes around the word (to every conference or research meeting) to go running every morning, adding more and more cities under his running shoes…

He was very committed with family, showing his children that rewards come after work, exchanging minutes of sports for a sweet food reward. Looking for presents for his children when travelling abroad, and everyone knows how much he used to travel…

Paul was committed with languages, speaking perfect Dutch and now learning Norwegian. Duolingo was an ally, also with some Spanish expressions.

There is not enough space to describe what has been Paul for most of us, a brilliant and generous man that will be always be remembered, each one, in its way.

Rest in peace Paul.

Julia Olmos-Peñuela



I got to know Paul through the ENRESSH network as an extremely supportive and kind person always ready to share his creative view of the world. But not just that! He was also a brilliant scholar who never ceased to amaze me with his ability to condense so much in just a few words. Someone from whom one can learn a lot. Someone who always inspires.

My deepest condolences to Paul’s family.

Linda Sīle

Paul was unique in his engagement with stakeholders and always very open to new people and ideas. We were currently working together, Gemma Derrick, Paul and I on a piece of advice for ex-ante impact assessment of proposals at RCN, previously supported by an STSM grant from ENRESSH. Such important work with a high potential impact on RCN practices. This is just one example of the many ways in which Paul promoted SSH research in society. Difficult to see how we can do without him. But still my warmest thoughts are with his family that I know meant everything to him.

Jon Holm

Much has been said about the scope of Paul’s qualities, his academic and research qualities, his support for young researchers, his originality, the way he delivered his ideas to audiences, his overall leadership, and so on and so on. I personally also enjoined his non academic qualities, talking about football, to mention one, not the million euro business of the big clubs but going to matches of the local team. One anecdote that characterised him for me was that once we had an ENRESSH meeting in Sofia where he had to chair a session, but he could not make it to the Bulgarian capital because of too many other obligations. Just a few days before the actual event, he asked Reetta and me to replace him, and while we were happy to do so, we were also wondering how to do that without much preparation. But just the day before the meeting, we received a very meticulous document that Paul had composed with minute details on how and what to do. We were reassured to have this information, and while the meeting took its own course and went rather different than Paul had anticipated, for me it was really characteristic for the seriousness of his preparation, and his collegiality, he managed to be even present while not being there.

Jack Spaapen

I received the news of Paul’s passing yesterday and I still haven’t fully recovered from the shock. I met Paul because of ENRESSH and became an element of the WG he chaired. Paul had a fantastic capacity to engage people, motivate and empower them, especially younger researchers. When I joined ENRESSH, I was in a fragile professional situation and the way Paul supported and empowered younger scholars, by valuing their feedback, their participation, by building synergies with them, all of that really helped me to become a more confident scholar. Paul was sensitive and tolerant to people and their various (personal, national, scientific) backgrounds, he was energetic and passionate about work and was a natural at building consensus while respecting differences.

We met in several ENRESSH meetings in the most diverse places (Ljubljana, Zagreb, Antwerp, Lisbon, Helsinki…). Last time we met, last June, my partner and I took Paul to an amusement park that only happens once a year, during the popular summer ‘S. João’ holiday, with neon lights, food stalls, a Ferris wheel and bumper cars. We ate a ‘fartura’ (a traditional Portuguese delicacy), had a beer and just chatted through the warm evening about all sorts of (important and petty) issues. That’s probably the most vivid memory I will keep of him. Paul will be missed and my thoughts go out to the family.

Rita Faria

I feel honoured to have known this great, kind, funny and intelligent person through the ENRESSH network. I only had a few more personal chats with Paul but I immediately felt his authenticity, great spirit and kindness to the world and all living beings. May he rest in peace and may his beloved ones find comfort and support through the kindness and warmth of others.

Alexis Dewaele

I met Paul through the ENRESSH network, and he was always this very warm and charming person able to engage in the most wonderful conversations. One that I remember very well – about beers and wines – happened in Podgorica a couple of years ago. We chatted throughout the evening, him drinking beer, me wine, putting the subject into practice in this case literally. Witty, compelling and welcoming everyone into the conversation with kindness and grace, this is how I will remember him. My feelings go out to his family, of whom he’d always talk about with so much love and admiration.

Claudia Oliveira

I woke up this morning hoping that Paul’s death was only a bad dream… I’m crying silently since yesterday. I still cannot believe how unfair life can be and why do his children have to grow up without such a wonderful father.
Paul was a brilliant mind, gifted in so many ways. He was unique, not like other people. He was one of my dearest friends from ENRESSH. I’ll miss him terribly.

Karolina Lendák-Kabók 

Such shocking, tragic news of great loss for Paul’s family, ENRESSH and all academic community. We are grateful for seminal work which is and will lead us in our research. I will miss discussions with Paul about running and remember in my heart sharing running experiences by the Ariela on the seashore of Copenhagen. My condolences to Paul’s dearest.

Andreja Istenic Starcic

This is really shocking news, I have known Paul for many years, and remember to have had very deep and thorough discussions about what science was actually all about …I will remember Paul as a very warm colleague, and may his inspiration live on in the people with whom he worked with. My feelings are also with his family, wish them a lot of strength in these difficult times.

Thed van Leeuwen

I am very sorry to hear this. May he rest in peace and condolences to his family and friends.

Arleen Ionescu

Paul taught me what generosity in an academic context looks like. He was extremely kind, intellectually open-minded, and actively supportive of younger colleagues voices and ideas. Paul was an enthusiastic and inspiring educator and working with him recently on the ENRESSH project was brilliant. I will miss his wit, his ability to engage others in collaborative and productive conversations, his encouragement, and his passion for academic knowledge and its place in twenty-first-century society. I feel glad that our email correspondence meant that I was able to thank him, just a few weeks ago, for his support in developing my thesis to a book. His model of academic collegiality is one that I shall try to emulate for the rest of my own life; we should all try and be a bit more like Paul. He will be greatly missed but not forgotten in the SSH community, and no doubt to all who knew him.

Zoe Bulaitis

I met Paul several times over the past four years during the ENRESSH meetings. The last time was in Paris in February. We mostly worked in different groups but you did not need many discussions with Paul to appreciate his friendliness to colleagues and enthusiasm toward the social sciences and the humanities: “we need to ask our own questions, rather than answer those of the other fields”. I will remember Paul as the true champion of the value of SSH research.  My deepest condolences for Paul’s family and friends.

Janne Pölönen

With Paul’s passing, we have lost a great researcher, a very creative and hard-working one, that at the same time had an enormous capacity to approach activities and collaborate with other colleagues, appreciating and integrating their contributions and perspectives. One could learn a lot by working with him. But that is not the most important thing; the passage of time makes one value human qualities more and more, and Paul gathered many of them, among which I highlight his fine sense of humour, his joy, his companionship and his great respect for the ideas of others. It’s hard to accept that he has left us and I can’t but think of the enormous pain his wife and children must be going through. I hope that our support will help them face their grief. May he rest in peace.

Elena Castro-Martínez

I am also terribly sad to hear from Paul’s passing. The few times I met with him, I was impressed by his wonderful energy, great ability to manage a group and raise illuminating ideas.

Stephanie Mignot

I am honored to have known Paul and worked with him in this project. He will forever remain alive in my heart and memory.

Yulia Stukalina

From the first time I interacted with Paul, it was clear that Paul is eloquent, a brilliant mind, extremely structured and that he stands up for a cause, be it the SSH, an intelligent impact assessment, early career researchers or regional football. It also very soon became clear that it is fun to spend time with him off work. But what impressed me much more was that despite being extremely well-structured, he was completely flexible. He would draw a detailed flow chart for a project but was easily convinced to throw all over again and draw a new one. And, actually, those kinds of suggestions changing his plans, seemed to be most interesting to him while at the same time keeping the eye firmly on the results. Similarly, despite being very eloquent himself, he would take seriously any badly formulated simple blurb from anyone – and turn it into a convincing argument. While ideas are abundant among academics, Paul’s unmatched talent was to transform a simple idea into a feasible project. All of this with a humble attitude; and a strong sense of (in)justice.

But Paul was special to me not because he was brilliant and funny but rather because he was one of the very few men able to show vulnerability. I had very intense moments with him when we went through difficult times; a quality of discussion and sharing of emotions and comfort I have rarely experienced.

I remember a Steering Group meeting when I received bad news from my family in the midst of a discussion. Immediately, while everyone was in full discussion, I received an email from Paul sitting across the table: „Michael, are you fine?“ He really did care; not only about research, topics and projects, but mainly about people.

Maybe Paul sends me the same message now. My response is: „No I am not fine. I am terribly sad. But that’s OK, since I am sad because I care. I really cared about you, most likely more than you know. I’ll miss you terribly“.

My thoughts are with his family. Their loss is indescribable. And I really do hope that in the current situation, they will have a chance to find comfort and to say goodbye to this wonderful person. Paul has a special place in my heart and in the hearts of many of us.

Michael Ochsner

Years ago, Paul was just a name – someone who’s papers I’ve read and appreciated. Then he became a scientific partner, first in a series of research proposals, then in the ENRESSH COST Action. As years went by, we learned to work with each other, and I like to think we became also friends. I remember worrying with him at the birth of his youngest child, and sharing a big happy moment when he learned, minutes before a presentation at the university of Porto, that he had been selected for a professorship in Norway.
Paul was an inspiring researcher, with an innovative way of thinking about reseach impact and productive interactions between SSH researchers and society at large. What he has built in the second working group of ENRESSH will certainly remain as a cornerstone in future studies upon these matters.  He was ful of ideas, and I know that he planned on several studies as a follow up of the pathways to impact he described so accurately in his latest papers. His passing is a terrible loss for the ENRESSH network, for the EvalHum association, and for the research evaluation community as a whole.
Good-bye, Paul! We will not be sharing beers and ideas after a long working day, but we will never forget you!
Ioana Galleron
I am so sorry to read that Paul passed away. This is very sad news. I’m so sorry, Paul was a great person in every way. He worked a lot in the ENRESSH network and he was always willing to collaborate with many tasks of the Action. His death is a  great loss for all of us.
I would like to send my condolences to his wife and family.
We will always remember him.
Elias Sanz Casado
Learning about the untimely passing of our friend and colleague Paul has been devastating.
Working with Paul was indeed a unique experience in all the meanings of the term. I think all those who were in ENRESSH WG2 or in the CARES group were impressed by his endless energy, enthousiasm to launch projects and very efficient ways to manage a group. I would like to say that, although I did not know Paul personally before ENRESSH – even if I knew about some of his work -, interacting with him was what I would call a transformative experience. And as so many have already emphasised, Paul could combine the mondane with the academic, the most theoretical arguments with genuine concern for you as a human being. I remember a few years ago while in Ljubljana for some plenary ENRESSH meeting we suddenly jumped from abstract considerations about impact to sweet talk about my clothing (I was in fact directly flying from some trekking in Crete to the ENRESSH meeting),Paul calling me a “wild man”. I still smile thinking about it. This was Paul for me.Paul’s views on impact and SSH research will accompany me in the future, both in scholarly work and policy making. We loose a unique human being and a unique scholar. But his ideas will live on.
Marc Vanholsbeeck

Paul was a great person with ideas and energy that inspired his colleagues in ENRESSH.  He will be remembered for his commitment to research and his contributions to the development of Early Career Researchers.

My condolences to Paul’s family.

Georgios Afxentiou

Paul has been a great colleague and inspiration. It has been a pleasure working with him, bouncing ideas back and forth and developing proposals. It is very sad to lose him. He will be missed!

All my thoughts and best wishes for the family.

Carola Hein

Paul embodied what it means to be a “mentor” in all the meanings of the word. He was a leading academic, a brilliant mind, a great writer. He was a fantastic teacher and collaborator, open to new ideas, supportive of early career colleagues, always inspiring. He was a warm, caring human being who genuinely cared and looked out for other people.
Many memories of good times with Paul have been returning to me in the last days. I first met Paul as an utterly professional, knowledgable but at the same time friendly and witty panel chair at a RESSH conference in Antwerp in 2017. He invited me to join the ENRESSH network and this led to my ongoing exchange with him. We met at lively academic events in beautiful European locations: Zagreb, Vienna (2018), Reykjavik (2019). Paul had also been very generous in hosting me at CHEPS in Enschede in the summer of 2018. I am only now beginning to realise how formative these exchanges have been for me. His support also meant a lot to me in the period when I was transitioning from doctoral studies to post-PhD life. I remember when I shared with him my anxiety about my future in today’s competitive academia, he said, half-jokingly : “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place”.
I recall so many more meaningful moments: sitting with him in his wonderfully chaotic desk at CHEPS, BBC6 playing in the background; daily walks on the scorching-hot campus grounds of Twente University, Paul telling me about the architecture of the buildings; his pride when I shared some good career news (“you landed on your feet!”) ; congratulating him on becoming a professor (“that’s right, now you have to call me professor Benneworth!”); leaving the room after a long day of brainstorming on an article and hearing colleagues comment “my head is spinning, Paul is razor-sharp!”; his great advice when I asked how I should go about a co-author who is not doing his share of work on an article “don’t be that person”; his text on the day I had my vivia (he remembered!) “is there any white smoke yet?”… In Enschede I had met Paul’s lovely family. I can see Paul flipping quorn sausages on the barbecue in their back yard, us eating ice cream together with the kids at the lovely town square in Lonneker.
Like many of you, I had research projects opened or planned together with Paul and it seems almost surreal that our exchanges have been cut short, that we will no longer be able to collaborate, discuss and share moments of relaxation after work… I feel I had so much to learn from him, on many levels. It has been an enormous privilege to know Paul and I remain grateful for all his support. He leaves behind him a great scientific legacy: his writing, students and the many research projects he facilitated. He could and would have achieved so much more!
My thoughts are with Leanne, Theo and Martha at this terrible time.
Marta Wroblewska
Paul has been a prominent thinker in the battle for the valorization of research in Humanities and for the development of evaluation methods that make full justice to their specificities, preserving a long term and critical perspective. He was the energy in person, enthusiast, warm, always thoughtful.The entire community of scholars in Humanities will discover, in the next few years, how valuable his contribution has been.
Andrea Bonaccorsi
This is indeed shocking. Paul was so full of life. He was extremely friendly to all ENRESSH newcomers, and made everyone feel welcome. He was also an exceptional researcher. I do hope that his family has the strength to deal with this terrible loss.

Elena C. Papanastasiou

Deep sadness. This is what I felt when I knew the terrible news. I am so sorry for Paul’s death. I find it hard to believe. My thoughts are with his family.

He was a great colleague in the ENRESSH network, very committed. A leader very concerned about the careers of young researchers and SSH knowledge transfer. He was also cheerful, a good conversationalist and very kind with everyone. One of those charming people that cross paths in your life

I was fortunate to work with him, with Elena Castro and with Julia Olmos, preparing a paper for a conference held at IESA/CSIC (Córdoba) last December. It was a pleasure. I was struck by his attentive listening to the transfer of research cases that we were analyzing in Spain and he built a very valuable joint contribution. But he was also enthusiastic. It was a pleasure reading his tweets about the lectures he was listening to. Always eager to learn, he was constructive and very encouraging in his comments.

His joy, his energy and his leadership will always inspire us. His lost is unfair, especially for his children. He will always be alive in them.

Elea Giménez Toledo

I got to know Paul via ENRESSH. We met for the first time when he hosted my research visit at Twente in the beginning of 2017. That was the start for our collaboration. I remember my first impression of him when we had our first meeting: I was amazed how talented he was verbally. I very soon realized his skills in theorizing and visualizing things too. In one of our meetings, while I was talking about my perceptions on the data analysis, he had visualized all the findings while I was ‘just talking’ . When the meeting was over, we had the draft of typology of SSH impact pathways.

I learned to know Paul as a person who enjoyed languages, as a verbal and brilliant speaker who had an enviably wide vocabulary. Using for instance a word ‘fiche’ instead of survey might raise some nice memories among ENRESSHers.  We talked a lot of his enthusiasm in learning new languages and I could not stop wondering how fast he had learned to speak Dutch. I enjoyed much of a chance to discuss impact issues with the native speaker and the expert of the field. Once for instance, I remember us having a very throughout conversation on the differences between the use of terms social and societal in regard to impact. Later when Paul started to work in Bergen, we amused ourselves with trying to communicate in Scandinavian languages.

It is easy to relate to the memories of Paul as an exceptionally caring person. I don’t know anyone who would have as much going on in work as he had. Still he had always energy to care about how his colleagues were doing.

It is hard to realize that he is not with us anymore. I am grateful for all the support and inspiration I have received from him.

My deepest condolences to Paul’s family.

Rest in peace Paul.

Reetta Muhonen

I knew Paul as a colleague in EvalHum and ENRESSH, and as a friend, but only over a glass of wine at the RESSH conference in Valencia did we realise that, despite him being in the North of England, and me in the South-West, despite a difference of 18 years in age, that we had had similar upbringings and so much in common. We both had backgrounds in Methodism and Temperance, hence the significance of the wine. “I drink, but I don‘t gamble”, said Paul. “Same here”, I replied. I have no idea why we got on to that subject, but it sealed a friendship.

My first contacts dated from 2012 when we were setting up a proposal for an EC project, but we finally met in the cafeteria of Rotterdam railway station. That was how EvalHum started, meeting up whenever we could when one of us as in a convenient place. I was returning from Leiden and changed trains in Rotterdam. We never got that project, or the others we went for, but it did lead to frequent meetings and planning that led to the establishment of EvalHum as an association and to the final successful proposal for a COST network – ENRESSH.

Paul brought knowledge, dynamism and enthusiasm to EvalHum and ENRESSH. As work group leader on Impact, his impact was enormous on the work produced and in training young scholars. He was a brilliant researcher and an inspiring teacher. The oddity of COST is that research is a dirty word, we only network. Nevertheless , they expect research outcomes. The work Paul and his WG was phenomenal, producing far greater outcomes than  any fully funded research project. Paul was such an inspiration to all.

We had planned to have a couple of drinks together in Paris at the last meeting. Late trains put paid to that. Thus, my last real chat with Paul was in Valencia where we discussed in depth how to ensure that EvalHum picks up all the activities of ENRESSH and carries them on. My aim was to retire and hand on. Paul, with his foresight, convinced me to carry on. I was willing and able, but now to him to do so. I owe it to his vision of how to show the real impact of the SSH, and I know, that like me, others are so inspired.

I shall miss greatly Paul. I just cannot believe he is no longer physically with us. Spiritually, he is there, drinking, but not gambling.

My heartfelt condolences to Leanne and the children. I lost a friend and colleague, they lost much more. Nevertheless, Paul lives on through all the good he did.

Geoffrey Williams

That is shocking news, hart to grasp. His passing away is a tremendous loss for the academic community. It was an incredible privilege to work with him. My condolences to his family.

Mimi Urbanc

So shocking and sad news. Paul was such an active and positive person. I met him in 2009 when HERA ERA NET project HERAVALUE under his leadership was launched. It was an innovative and ambitious project, forerunning discussions on societal impact of art and humanities research. Not so long ago in Paris we were discussing his plans and how to combine professional life and family time. My thoughts are with Paul’s family.

Nina Kancewicz-Hoffman

Training School in Zagreb 2018

Cordoba, 2019

Training School Zagreb 2018

RESSH 2019

Amsterdam meeting 2019

Paris Meeting 2020

Paris Meeting 2020