(Photograph) - The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals has become that much harder to dismiss as a body for the staid and conventional with the election of Mike Fitzgerald, vice chancellor of Thames Valley University, as vice chair.
Dr Fitzgerald (above) is the only head of a university likely to be compared visually with Rod Stewart or accused by a newspaper columnist of "having the worst haircut ever seen on television".
At 45 he believes he is the youngest vice chancellor, but after five years at TVU - seeing it through a transformation from institute of higher education to polytechnic to university - he is far from the least experienced. Peer respect for the sharp mind behind a laddish exterior was signalled last week when the CVCP council chose him as vice chair in succession to David Melville of Middlesex University.
He said: "There is still something of a balancing act between old and new institutions, but I think the CVCP is beginning to move beyond that and represent a sector-wide view of issues rather than the lowest common denominator."
He cites last January's debate on a possible top-up levy as an example. Head of an institution where 64 per cent of students already pay fees, he remains personally opposed to a levy, but notes that the CVCP was still able to devise an effective strategy in spite of the diversity of viewpoints.
He points to the Dearing review and its outcome as the most important issue confronting the CVCP. "I've done a lot of work for our long-term strategy group on teaching and learning and I'm pleased to have the opportunity to play a role in the CVCP's submission to Dearing."
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