University of East Anglia
My main administrative role at UEA was within the School of Modern Languages and European History, as Chairman of the European History Department from 1984 to 1987 and as a member of the key Working Party on the allocation and implementation of a 12% budgetary cut imposed on the School by the University as a result of UGC funding decisions from 1982 to 1985. As Professor of European History from 1983 to 1989 I was ex officio on the Promotions Committee. I was a member of the School’s Planning Committee from 1979 to 1989 and as Chairman of the School’s Research Committee in 1988-9 was responsible for the allocation of research funds and for the compilation of the RAE submission of all four Departments as well as acting as coordinator for the combined RAE submission of the three History Departments at UEA. I was mainly responsible for negotiating the participation of all three Departments in the Degree in History in 1987, but failed to persuade the University to found a School of History, which is a major reason why I left for Birkbeck in 1989. The School of History was established a few years later and is now flourishing
Birkbeck College, London
a) 1991-93 Departmental Chair, History
In this capacity I was fortunate to be able to reconstruct the Department following a number of resignations and retirements. In the course of a major expansion in which student numbers more than doubled within five years, I was able to secure the appointment of ten new staff, increasing the Department’s size from 11 in 1989 to 19 in 1997, to raise the RAE grading from 4 to 5 in 1992 (one of only five Departments in the country to secure the top grade) and to maintain the 5 rating in 1996 despite the loss of most of the Department’s senior members, including Roy Foster and David Blackbourn to chairs at Oxford and Harvard respectively. With the help of the Master and the Appeals Office I was able to raise £220,000 from businesses and foundations to establish a Lectureship in Japanese History in 1996. In terms of the curriculum I introduced the teaching of American History and Far Eastern History as well as maintaining traditional strengths such as modern European History, and changed the structure from the old London Federal Degree system to one more appropriate to a College-based, course-unit degree designed for part-time, mature students. I introduced new administrative structures appropriate to the larger size of the Department, and secured the appointment of additional secretarial staff and the acquisition of more office space. After 1993 I saw my major role as Professor to provide research and curriculum leadership for the Department, and instituted regular one-to-one discussion with staff members on their research plans and progress, as well as assisting and advising the Chairman of Department in any way I could. From 1993 I reoriented the Department towards the expanding graduate teaching market with two new Master’s degrees and a reorganization of existing graduate teaching.
b) 1993-98 Vice-Master
I was elected to the post of Vice-Master in 1993 when it became a purely executive post following a reorganisation of the internal administration. My main duties were: deputising for the Master on various occasions (from chairing inaugural lectures to representing the College at outside meetings), chairing a number of committee, and advising on and participating in all senior management decisions affecting an institution with some 700 staff, 5,000 degree and 16,000 non-degree students, and an annual budget of around £33m. I also had the statutory duty to chair appeal panels on academic and academic-related staff disciplinary matters, including dismissals, and carried out this duty twice.
As Chairman of the Buildings Committee from 1993 to 1995 I oversaw approval and commissioning of a number of major projects, including the £3.6m Clore Management Centre and the £1.5m library refurbishment and Crystallography laboratory relocation scheme, as well as the allocation of regular items on the roughly £500,000 annual maintenance and repair budget.
As Chairman of Research Committee since 1993 I had overall responsibility for research in the College. I reformed the method of allocating internal College research funds, and in particular edited, checked and in most cases secured the amendment and resubmission of the entries of all 22 Departments for the 1996 RAE. I organised a strategy for Departments to prepare for RAE 2001, and pushed for a more devolved system of allocating overheads on external research grants in order to provide better incentives to Departments to apply. I urged strongly upon the College the need for a new post of Research Officer to centralise the administration of grant applications and provide information, advice and encouragement to academic staff in seeking external support for their research; the post was established and the first incumbent took up office in 1997. I pressed for a thorough reform of the College’s Study Leave entitlement system and chaired a Working Party of the Staffing Committee on this issue, involving widespread consultations with academic Departments, which resulted in a regular Study Leave system being introduced with effect from 1 October 1998.
As Chairman of Teaching Committee in 1995-7, I exercised overall responsibility for curriculum management and quality control, reporting to the Academic Board and the Governors. I regularly attended and commented on TQA visitations to Departments in the College.
As a member of Staffing Committee and its various Panels I played a full part in determining all staffing and promotion issues and decisions, as a member of the Joint Academic and Related Committee I was one of the three members of the management side in negotiating with the local AUT. On occasion I also represented management in joint meetings with all the College Trade Unions. I chaired or sat on numerous appointment panels for academic and administrative posts, including the College Librarian, the College Finance Officer and the Deputy Registrar.
As Chairman of House Committee I had general responsibility for the running of the College buildings, scattered over a number of sites in the Bloomsbury Area, This included the management and financial supervision of the College Bar and Catering Service and overseeing security matters.
As Vice-Master I was ex officio a College Governor and member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee. I played a full part in both short-term and strategic management decisions as part of the senior management team at the College. In this capacity my most important work was on the Strategic Working Party, set up in 1996 by Governors to work out a strategy for avoiding anticipated deficits of £1.6m in 1997-8 and £2.6m in 1999. This involved taking a number of difficult decisions, the most controversial of which was the closure of the Physics Department and its transfer to UCL, which took place in 1997.
My final term as Vice-Master, January-March 1998, was mainly taken up with inducting and briefing the new Master, Professor T M O’Shea, on all aspects of College business. At his request I also submitted a 14-page report on the future shape of the College’s administrative and representative structures, which he subsequently largely implemented. This involved a number of quite radical changes, including the regrouping of Departments into Schools and Faculties, and in retrospect was my most important managerial contribution to the College.
c) 1997 Acting Master
On the appointment of Baroness Blackstone, Master of Birkbeck, to the Government as Minister of State in the Department for Education and Employment on 4 May 1997 I became Acting Master, relinquishing the post on 1 January 1998, when the new Master, Professor Tim O’Shea took up office.
As Acting Master I continued to be a College Governor, to sit on all the committee in which I had been involved as Vice-Master, and in addition to chair the Academic Board, the Academic Board Executive Committee, the Staffing Committee, and all the various joint committees with the trade unions (academic, clerical, technical and manual) alternately with the senior trade union representative. I also sat on the College’s Investment Sub-Committee, dealing with the c£9m Birkbeck had invested in the stock market.
As Acting Master I dealt with personnel and staffing matters (principally where senior members left, and there was a need to recruit replacements, but also reconstructing Departmental management where this went wrong). I acted in a ceremonial capacity at degree ceremonies, College dinners, retirement functions, inaugural and named College lectures (the Bernal Lecture, Orwell lecture, etc.), and conferences of various kinds. I represented the College and pursued its interests in outside bodies such as the CVCP (now UUK), the 94 Group, the HEFCE and the regular meetings of heads of multi-faculty Colleges within London University. I also undertook a considerable amount of personal lobbying of individuals including the Secretary of State and the Chairman of HEFCE to try (with limited success) to ensure that the deficiencies of the Dearing Report in respect of part-time education were made good in government policy. I also secured substantial additional funded part-time student places for the College from HEFCE, considerably increasing College income and removing the looming threat of a serious deficit.
My two main academic initiatives as Acting Master were to start the process of merging the Departments of Applied Linguistics, French, German and Spanish into a single School of Modern Languages; and to initiate discussion within the College on the future of Biology, Crystallography, Chemistry and Geology after the HEFCE agreed to award Birkbeck £1.9m for the restructuring of Science Departments in response to an application I made in June 1997. Overall I attempted to develop a more consensual style of management than was practised under my predecessor.
As Acting Master I also tried to raise funds for the College from business and charities. The scope for this was limited, since my predecessor rather exhausted the market, as it were, by raising £8m for the College over the previous four years in this way. Nevertheless, I raised £70,000 from Camelot for computer equipment and persuaded the German Academic Exchange Service to establish a permanent Lectureship in Modern German History from 1 October 1998, with an annual contribution from the College of only £8,000. I initiated discussions with a variety of potential donors, including Kawasaki Heavy Industries, The Arts Council Lottery Fund, the City Solicitors’ Trust and BT. I used the annual Foundation Day Dinner of the College to invite potential donors and the executives of significant educational and research foundations.
I was a member of the History Faculty Board and the Degree Committee from 1999 to 2002; my main contribution to the latter was to urge reforms, now partially realised, to streamline business and reduce the size of the Committee; from 1999-2001 I have again been a member of the History Faculty Board since 2006. I was a member of the committee involved particularly in planning for the 2001 RAE and again for the 2008 RAE. Since 2000 I have been a Manager of the Trevelyan Fund, and in this capacity I established an additional series of lectures by various individual historians alongside the regular series delivered by a single historian. I was Chairman of Examiners for Part I of the Historical Tripos in 2001-2. From 2003 to 2006 I was Chairman of the Modern European History Subject Group. I introduced a number of changes which meant that the Subject Group has come to provide a model for other Subject Groups in the coherent structure of its Part I lecture courses, and in the abolition of overlap between the dates covered by these courses. In 2007 I secured funding from the DAAD to cover the majority of the cost of a 5-year lectureship in post-1945 German History within the Faculty and (with Dr C M Clark) took part in the selection process and interviews, in Bonn; in 2012 I secured a further four years of funding and again took part in the interviews in Bonn.
From 2008 to 2010 I was Chairman of the History Faculty at Cambridge University. Here my main effort was directed towards securing replacement posts for colleagues who left or retired, and through the Council of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences I secured funding for nine replacement posts, all of which were advertised and filled.
A major part of my effort was directed towards improvements in the neglected History Faculty building, a striking but very impractical modernist classic designed by Sir James Stirling and built in 1968, now a Grade II listed building. I had the toilets all refurbished, at a cost of over £100,000 mostly provided by the University to provide disabled access to the Junior Combination Room, which also involved moving the kitchen to a more practical location; and I had the corridor and pubic space lighting equipped by light-sensors so it would go off when there was no movement detected. The stairs were made safer with extra railings. Plans were made for a £2m scheme to provide air-conditioning for the building, which overheats in summer and is freezing in winter, but these were unfortunately abandoned by the University on cost grounds shortly after I finished my term of office.
I also began fundraising, instituting an annual newsletter distributed to all alumni, along with a series of dinners for wealthy alumni (now unfortunately in abeyance), and a reception during Cambridge alumni weekend. And I oversaw the establishment of the access and aspiration website, designed to serve schools.
To save costs I introduced paperless committee meetings, with agenda papers all online, and projected onto a screen during the meetings. Previously the Faculty had been making more than 2 million photocopies a year, and exceeding its photocopying budget many times over.
I had originally intended to resign after three years but was obliged to do so when elected President of Wolfson College in 2010; to hold the two posts simultaneously while carrying a full teaching load would be impossibly demanding.
As President of Wolfson College, which has around 150 mature undergraduates. 550 postgraduates and 300 part-time students, I have overall responsibility for the College as well as a number of specific duties.
The public face of the Presidency is obvious: presiding over formal halls and guest nights, welcoming new students, saying goodbye to retiring staff, celebrating their degrees with graduands and their friends and families, and generally being around in the College and getting to know everybody as far as is possible in such a large community. All of this could be summed up as the social side of the job, helping to foster a sense of community and loyalty to the College and make it an enjoyable experience to live and work here, and a happy time in retrospect.
Then there’s the managerial side of the job. A Head of House is not a CEO, more like the Chairman of the Board; this aspect of my work involves among other things presiding over Governing Body, College Council, and a number of committees, and keeping abreast with College business through the Bursar, the Senior Tutor and other College officers, especially in our informal Monday management meetings, where we deal with problems and crises that come up, and look forward to the coming week’s business.
Thirdly there’s fundraising, talking to people who are interested in helping the College, visiting alumni groups in various parts of the world, and working with the Development Director to prepare for our 50th anniversary commemoration in 2015. So far this has involved trips to the USA and to Singapore and Hong Kong, but most important of all of course has been helping to make the experience of being a student in the College a pleasant and fulfilling one so that graduates will remember us fondly in later life.
Finally there’s the University. Increasingly, Colleges are having to co-ordinate their efforts to deal with government pressures over access, fees and student numbers, and Colleges like Wolfson that cater for graduate and mature students need to make sure our voice is heard in a Collegiate Cambridge dominated by the big undergraduate Colleges. The Colleges Committee is the key institution here, and I have argued successfully for the proposed new College in North-west Cambridge to be designed as a graduate College rather than simply to provide space for postdoctoral researchers, whose need for affordable housing can be met in other ways.
Under my predecessor Gordon Johnson, who was President for 17 years, the College, founded in 1965, continued its prolonged and successful expansion. It is now entering into a phase of consolidation, building on the achievements of the past years, and my main task has been to guide it into its maturity and plan for a stable future. As part of this I have started the process of establishing and approving a Strategic Plan, I have been gently reducing, by natural wastage, the number of Fellows from the initial 156 when I arrived to a current 131 with the aim of stablizing at around 100, I have overseen a tightening of the rules regarding Fellowships and restructured the Senior Membership (350 when I arrived) into separate but equal categories of Senior Members, Alumni and College Research Associates.
Buildings are a preoccupation too; not so much new ones as the refurbishment of old, rather tired ones built in the 1970s and now with an unacceptably large carbon footprint. The President’s Lodge has been equipped for the first time with double-glazed windows and cavity-wall insulation, as well as with new shower and bath rooms and interior lighting; large grants have been or are being applied for to modernize student residences; and office space has been redesigned.