Embattled dean to go

January 8, 1999

'Mr Watts, who had been subject to hate mail inviting him to "settle in the farthest reaches of hell", was suspended as a result of allegations made by the Jenkinses'

The dean at the centre of allegations of nepotism, bullying and mismanagement at Anglia Polytechnic University has stepped down as head of the business school, following a year of investigations by The THES.

Hugh Jenkins has relinquished his post as dean of the Anglia Business School, but will continue to carry out research until he takes early retirement towards the end of 1999, at the age of 63, the university has confirmed.

John Watts, the whistleblower suspended for more than ten months for persisting with internal allegations against Professor Jenkins, has been reinstated, with charges of harassment against him dropped.

Allegations of nepotism and bullying against Professor Jenkins were first made public in February 1998. Staff had raised questions over the appointment, performance and subsequent promotion of Professor Jenkins's son, Jonathan, a lecturer in the management development division.

Mr Jenkins's record had not been good. He had already been removed from another division of the business school in 1995, and had been dismissed as a paid marker at an accounting exam body in 1997. Despite a string of complaints by staff and students at the management development division, Mr Jenkins was given a permanent contract without consultation with his line manager, John Watts, and was given two promotions.

When Mr Watts complained about Mr Jenkins's performance, and complained of "improper" pressure from his father to promote him, Professor Jenkins announced his intention to restructure the division, and remove Mr Watts from a managerial role. Staff resisted the move, claiming it was victimisation.

In March 1998, Mr Watts, who had been subject to hate mail inviting him to "settle in the farthest reaches of hell", was suspended as a result of allegations made by the Jenkinses.

This week Mr Watts's Natfhe representative Adrian Jones said: "The issues surrounding John Watts have now been concluded and he will return to work with no stain of any sort on his character."

The university, in a statement agreed with Natfhe, said that Mr Watts's "integrity as a professional academic in his field has never been questioned" and said it was able to identify "a number of systems' weaknesses" as a result of his allegations.

"Both the university and Mr Watts now regard as closed the matters raised in Mr Watts's various complaints," said the university. It said it was adopting "in the near future" procedures for whistleblowing under the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which came into force this year.

The university said it "maintains its confidence in Professor Jenkins's professional personal integrity". Director of marketing Roy Newson said that "because of the high-profile issues that have arisen", Professor Jenkins has not been able to complete research projects. "The university has given him the opportunity to stand down as dean, so he can complete a number of items of research before he retires."

It was unclear this week whether Jonathan Jenkins, who has been on sick leave, will return to the university.

Don Burton, an assistant dean at the business school, has been made acting dean.

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