Hood writes to reassure worried staff over planned changes to governance

May 13, 2005

John Hood, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, has written to staff to try to head off a revolt over plans to overhaul the university's decision-making system and library services and to introduce staff appraisals.

In the letter to all staff, Dr Hood rejects claims that the university, in planning to hand over power to a small board of trustees, is moving towards a more corporate model of governance.

He says that the proposed model, contained in a governance "green paper", is more usual for a research university.

Dr Hood adds that Oxford's current model, where a single council deals with both academic and institutional governance, is in many ways more corporate.

He also seeks to allay fears that proposals to conduct regular mandatory appraisals of dons' performance will impinge on academic freedom.

Finally, his letter promises that the university will aim to maintain the special character and resources of its libraries despite plans to reduce book stocks in the Bodleian Library and cut the number of libraries from 45 to as few as ten.

Dr Hood says there is no truth to rumours that the university plans to use the Bodleian's main reading room in the Radcliffe Camera for commercial purposes.

The letter comes as members of the university's rulingcongregation prepare to meet on Tuesday to consider three motions questioning Oxford's proposals on these issues.

Congregation will have a chance to fully debate the governance paper on June 28.

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