Electing for complexity

January 30, 1998

Richard Clogg's piece on election of professors (THES,January 23) falls into the fashionable trap of proposing constant procedural complexity to deal with a rather infrequent problem. I have been an elector, assessor or what have you in person at appointments meetings in more than two dozen universities, in several places more than once. Only once have the proceedings been at all flakey, and even then the outcome was OK. The procedure at London colleges has always been quite correct.

In my own institution we often get electors to travel vast distances to help us.

It is quite enough to ask them to cross eight time zones; if we asked them to engage in a vast piece of bureaucracy as well they might well simply decline to come.

Roger Needham Pro vice chancellor University of Cambridge.

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