Laurie Taylor

February 14, 2003

From: The vice-chancellor and chief executive

To: All academic staff

As one or two of you might be vaguely aware, The THES recently published a league table purporting to show the increases in salary awarded to vice-chancellors in the past year. According to this table, my personal remuneration has risen by 25 per cent from £150,000 to £187,500 a year.

Let me say straightaway that this figure is grossly misleading.

Although it is true that my apparent increase is more than 12 times that recently offered to other members of staff, a significant part of this is accounted for by the bonus I received as an acknowledgement of the additional administrative responsibilities I assumed following our replacement of the philosophy department with two new squash courts.

Although £187,500 a year might appear to be a relatively large salary compared with that enjoyed by the average lecturer at Poppleton (£19,221), it pales into insignificance alongside the type of reward enjoyed by managers in the private sector. Last year, for example, Mr Bill Gates earned nearly $2 billion and, while I would not claim a perfect parallel between his management of the world's most successful software company and my stewardship of a bankrupt regional university, I believe the comparison is relevant.

There was a time when university vice-chancellors were required to be merely distinguished scholars with a thoroughgoing commitment to the intellectual values of higher education. Such people were appropriately paid the type of miserable salaries traditionally associated with the academic profession. But today's new universities demand managers who know that the bottom line is not the last sentence in an undergraduate essay and who are familiar with the most recent developments in such business skills as creative accounting, constructive staff dismissal and specious public relations.

A final point. At a time when this university has had the misfortune to slip down the league tables devoted to such matters as student retention, research excellence and teaching quality, it is surely a matter of celebration that we now stand proudly in eighth place in the list of self-rewarding vice-chancellors.

The vice-chancellor (signed in his absence by Mrs W. Phillips)

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