Marine lab head quits

January 14, 2000

The director of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Sciences has resigned her post after two years that ended with redundancies and a Pounds 7 million rescue package.

Jacqueline McGlade, who took over one of the Natural Environment Research Council's major research centres in January 1998, stood down this week.

Her time as head has been turbulent. A Pounds 4 million budget deficit built up as a result of an effort to bring together the centre's laboratories at three sites.

A Nerc spokeswoman said Professor McGlade's departure had been a mutual decision with the Nerc council, which stepped in last autumn to save the ailing organisation. The centre is recognised as an international centre of excellence in marine sciences.

"These have obviously been difficult times for the CCMS and Professor McGlade inherited a lot of problems," she said.

"She had to work hard to solve them and had to make some tough decisions, but she did an excellent job and has left the CCMS in a good financial situation. She felt it was appropriate that someone else implemented this."

A decline in external funding, from government and foreign contracts, saw the CCMS's income drop in recent years, which sparked the crisis.

In October, staff were told 51 posts would be lost, including compulsory redundancies, as part of a Pounds 7 million rescue package.

Some angry staff said the situation was made worse by mismanagement and the overheads from trying to rationalise the three sites - Plymouth Marine Laboratory in Devon, the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory on Merseyside and the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory at Oban. Nerc had decided to unify the laboratories' management in 1994.

Andrew Watson, an oceanographer at the University of East Anglia, and formerly at the Plymouth Laboratory, said the effort to bring the three laboratories together had distracted attention from the funding problems.

"At a time whenstaff should have been concentrating on their work and raising external income, they were instead busy writing five-year plans like old Russian command economists," he said.

Professor McGlade, former professor of biological sciences at the University of Warwick, had worked in research institutes and universities in Canada, United States, Sweden and Germany. She was appointed by John Krebs, who resigned as chief executive of Nerc three months ago.

Graham Shimmield, director of Dunstaffnage, is acting director.

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