Nigel Piercy resigns as dean of Swansea's School of Management

Controversial dean blames ‘differences’ with the university over implementation of future strategy

July 24, 2015

Nigel Piercy, the controversial dean of Swansea University’s School of Management, has resigned.

Professor Piercy was recruited in 2013 from the University of Warwick as part of Swansea’s plans to improve the quality of the school. His appointment closely followed that of his son, Niall, as deputy dean for operations.

However, Professor Piercy clashed repeatedly with staff and students over his alleged lack of consultation and abrasive manner.

This morning Professor Piercy emailed school staff stating: “I have reached the position where I have differences with the University regarding implementation of the School’s future strategy. I feel it is only right that I step down with immediate effect and make way for a new Dean.” Swansea confirmed this afternoon he had stepped down.

Last year he warned staff that the school was “not a rest home for refugees from the 1960s with their ponytails and tie-dyed T-shirts. Live with it.”

In response to complaints from PhD students about the school’s failure to formally invite them to an Easter ball, Professor Piercy wrote: “What were you expecting – a liveried footman arriving at your residence with a personal gold-embossed invitation on a silver salver and a personal limo to the event?”

In May, the chair of Swansea University’s council, Sir Roger Jones, apologised “unreservedly” to university staff for “puerile” remarks made about trade unionists by Profesoor Piercy in a blog. The dean had referred to “unpleasant and grubby little people” who were “usually distinguished only by their sad haircuts, grubby, chewed fingernails and failed careers”. 

In recent weeks Professor Piercy has been under intense pressure after a succession of stories about him appeared in the media, including the BBC. There have also been questions about the situation in the Welsh Assembly. 

A spokesman for Swansea University Students’ Union said: “We recognise the resignation of Professor Piercy as a positive step forward and will support the university and School of Management in addressing the concerns regarding the student experience within the school.

Swansea University Students’ Union has a strong partnership with the university and we will be looking to ensure student representatives are involved in the recruitment of school and university management in the future to ensure the interests of students remain at the core of management decisions.”

One academic close to the school said: “Questions now need to be asked about the role of the vice-chancellor and Hilary Lappin-Scott [pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation and strategic development and Professor Piercy’s line manager] and why they allowed this to go on for as long as it has.”

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Reader's comments (1)

Thugs and bullies will always exist to exploit the weak. This is what seems to have happened here and there must a be great relief at Swansea that this hugely destructive management style is over. But the bigger question is why could this be allowed to happen? Was the VC equally greedy and incompetent to allow this type of behaviour to continue? Indeed, was it the market based system that UK Higher Education finds itself in which encourages this metrics driven, couldn’t care less about the methods type of management? If the latter, we had better watch out because another Piercey could pop up anywhere and destroy another school. It is just a shame for all those staff and students who have had their careers and study programmes disrupted because of this great experiment in managerialism. Let’s hope other universities can learn from Swansea’ mistakes.

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