Caledonian selects principal

March 13, 1998

A management expert at Sheffield Hallam University will be the new principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, succeeding Stan Mason, who was fired last September for gross misconduct.

Ian Johnston, deputy principal of Sheffield Hallam, has particular responsibility for strategy, planning, devolution and management of change.

A number of GCU's arrangements for governance and management have been criticised by John Sizer, chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, in a report that is now with the National Audit Office.

Professor Sizer's report concluded that the former principal had abused his authority and misused public funds.

Dr Mason appears determined to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, but vice-principal John Phillips said the university would "vigorously and robustly" defend its position.

The university took action after an exhaustive investigation that had allowed Dr Mason every opportunity to put his point of view, he said.

Malcolm Campbell, convener of Glasgow Caledonian's court, said Dr Johnston had been the unanimous choice of the interview panel, which included lay governors, staff and student representatives. "With his strong background in management and his particular interest in education strategy, lifelong learning and research, I am confident that he will do a splendid job in taking Glasgow Caledonian University forward to even more success in the next millennium."

Before joining Sheffield Hallam, Dr Johnston was director general of training, education and enterprise in the Department for Education and Employment.

He is an expert adviser to the European Commission on education and training strategy, and he has advised Sir Ron Dearing on both 16-19 qualifications and higher education.

He promised to adopt "an open, consultative style" to achieve consensus on how to tackle the opportunities and challenges ahead.

"The recent publicity over the funding council report has diverted attention away from the very many outstanding achievements of the university, its staff and students. I will seek to refocus attention on the positive aspects over the coming months," he said.

"Glasgow Caledonian University offers a great deal to students and employers. There is scope to offer a lot more as we develop lifelong learning and research opportunities for people who are already at work," Dr Johnston said.

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