Huddersfield meets wanderer William

November 11, 1994

Sir William Taylor has been in his new job for less than a fortnight but like his predecessor at the helm of Huddersfield University, he is making waves.

Unsuspecting staff enjoying a drink in the bar have been amazed to find him joining them for a chat. It is all part of, in his own jargon, MBWA.

"Management by wandering about, surely you've heard of that," says the interim vice chancellor, recruited following the departure of Kenneth Durrands after a storm of public protest over his running of Huddersfield.

A distinguished academic who steered Hull University through some choppy waters as vice chancellor there from 1985 to 1991, Sir William is busy prioritising his tasks for the short year he plans to spend at Huddersfield.

The former vice chancellor was forced to step down by the almost complete loss of confidence in his ability to manage his institution. But the replacement skipper is predictably bullish and will not be rushed. "There is only one thing worse than a young man in a hurry and that is an old man in a hurry," says 64-year-old Sir William.

By next week he expects to have met and listened to 1,500 members of the university. This is the core of his strategy to get Huddersfield back on course. He is aware, he says, of a strong desire among everyone to get on with their jobs.

Members of staff, still smarting from the ousting of their elected governors on the university council, have made no secret of their ambition to rid the council of a handful of members they consider to be dangerous and in the Durrands camp.

Sir William is quick to defend Professor Durrands's long record of achievement at Huddersfield. There was unprecedented student growth and yet the books still balanced. Whether he approved of the Pounds 500,000-plus severance package withdrawn last month can not be ascertained. But it is doubtful whether it sits comfortably with Sir William's belief in the power of, as he puts it, VFM. Value for Money.

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