Innovation - but no change

September 14, 2001

David VandeLinde, Warwick University's new vice-chancellor, has planted a tell-tale sign by his desk. It reads: "No whining".

The no-nonsense message is in keeping with both his personal style and Warwick's down-to-earth track record. Add to that a common entrepreneurial streak, and it might seem Professor VandeLinde and Warwick were made for each other.

But although his arrival from Bath, where he was vice-chancellor for eight years, could be billed as "go-getter meets go-getter", he says he plans no great changes.

He said it was unlikely that Warwick would follow the trend of the many institutions that seem to be rushing to reinvent themselves or "reposition" to survive and to exploit new opportunities.

"We have to be aware of the changes that are going on, but at the same time I think we will succeed simply by doing our mainstream job well. I do not see our fundamental mission changing," Professor VandeLinde said.

He is aware that just to do that will require Warwick to continue to be innovative and ready for change.

He plans to review the objectives and content of first degrees at Warwick to see if they can be made more relevant and useful for today's students. His hope is that degrees can be broadened to provide students with options to study a wide range of subjects outside their main discipline.

He believes that students will benefit from this experience, which will be recorded on transcripts like those produced by institutions in the United States, where Professor VandeLinde was born, educated and trained.

"I think everyone is recognising that more people are going on to higher education and they are less pigeon-holed in what they do with their lives. Universities need to ensure that they do not force students into a particular mould."

The review of degrees will be part of an institution-wide consultation that Professor VandeLinde plans to conduct. It may not amount to a change in mission, but he accepts some may see it as a significant move.

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