Hood to stay on if he loses

December 15, 2006

Oxford University's beleaguered vice-chancellor made a last-ditch effort this week to persuade academics to approve his controversial governance reforms, writes Jessica Shepherd.

In a letter to each of the 3,500 members of the Congregation, the dons' parliament that is casting postal ballots on the reforms this week, John Hood implies that he will not stand down whatever the result. He writes:

"Whatever the outcome of the postal ballot, I assure you that I will want to do all I can to put aside division, continue dialogue with all shades of opinion, in an atmosphere of trust, tolerance and goodwill."

He continues: "I have always sought to share my vision of the university as an academic community without peer - united and strong. It appears... that I may not always have conveyed that as successfully inside the university as outside it. If so, I regret it."

The proposed reforms would end academic self-governance by giving external business figures a majority on the governing council. Earlier this month, a meeting of about one third of the Congregation voted to reject the plans.

Opponents of the reforms have written to recently retired fellows asking them to request voting slips and participate in the postal vote. One academic who did not want to be named called the move "disgraceful". "If these retired fellows vote against the reforms, they will have brought us into the shit and they won't be around to dig us out of it," he said.

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