Responsible leadership (2 of 2)

November 8, 2012

I am grateful to correspondents for pointing out a couple of slips of memory (perhaps inevitable after a gap of 40 years) in "A right royal rumpus" (Opinions, 11 October). Lord Wheatley was indeed chairman of the university court, not chancellor (that was Lord Robbins); the union executive did indeed technically just call a meeting, but the expectation was surely that it would protest against the royal visit; and the bottle Jackie McKie (correct spelling, but everyone called him "Jackie Mackie") was photographed brandishing over the Queen's head did indeed contain Riesling, not whisky. Jackie was one of my students - it was he who told me he was only wishing Her Majesty good health - and I got on well with him: I'm delighted to learn that he did so well later in life.

I'm astonished, however, by the attempt by some correspondents to suggest that almost anyone apart from the vice-chancellor was to blame for the fiasco, whether it was university secretary Sir Derek Lang, "a few academics" or "some well-organised students". Lang was responsible to the vice-chancellor. The protest was not well organised - it was a drunken shambles. (It took many more than 10 students to drink the supermarket dry!) Tom Cottrell managed to alienate not just a few but virtually all of his academic staff. Of course, he consulted before arranging the visit (although unfortunately he didn't consult the students), but as vice-chancellor he had overall responsibility: anyone who knows anything about the position must surely know that the vice-chancellor's desk is where the buck stops.

Sir Richard Evans, President, Wolfson College, Cambridge

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns