Dean criticised by tribunal is promoted

Board member resigns over the matter and dozens sign a petition in protest. Simon Baker reports

July 28, 2011

Anger has been sparked among staff at a struggling university after a senior manager who told a whistleblower that he did not "do budgets" was awarded a professorship.

Kevin Richardson, dean of the University of Gloucestershire Business School, has been awarded the title despite receiving criticism from an employment tribunal last year relating to his behaviour in his former role as head of education.

The judgment found that Professor Richardson wanted business development manager Janet Merrigan - who successfully brought a tribunal under whistleblowing laws last September - to be sacked and let "nowhere near" an investigation into "significant failures" in the financial running of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Science.

It also accepted Ms Merrigan's evidence that Professor Richardson had told her and a colleague that "I don't do budgets" and to "fuck off" when they raised concerns.

The tribunal suggested in its ruling that "a spell of equal opportunities training" for Professor Richardson "would probably not go amiss".

His appointment as professor of business development comes just days before Gloucestershire's current vice-chancellor, Paul Hartley, officially leaves the institution, which is undergoing a change in key posts and an overhaul of its governance following an independent review.

According to official regulations, the vice-chancellor has final say on professorships "on the recommendation of the professorial board".

A university spokeswoman said that Professor Richardson had been awarded his professorship "in accordance with university criteria and processes for this designation".

However, a member of the professorial board has resigned over the matter, while a petition has been signed by dozens of staff members in protest.

One academic, who did not want to be named, said there was "massive anger" about the promotion.

Dr Hartley will be succeeded as vice-chancellor by senior civil servant Stephen Marston, the government's former director general for universities and skills, who will take over on 1 August.

Sir Peter Scott, former vice-chancellor of Kingston University and now professor of higher education studies at the Institute of Education, will take over as chair of governors in the autumn.

Meanwhile, it has emerged in council minutes that Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, personally asked Gloucestershire to ensure it drew "on the widest possible field of candidates" in its search for a new chair of council.

Gloucestershire also confirmed that before he was elected chair, Sir Peter had served on the interview panel that chose Mr Marston after Hefce put forward a number of people who could act as advisers to the process.

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