Plymouth chair of governors to ‘stand aside’

Plymouth University’s chair of governors, William Taylor, is to “stand aside” pending the outcome of an investigation into sexual harassment claims

August 21, 2014

The announcement, made by the university today, is the latest development in a leadership crisis at the university.

In July, the Plymouth vice-chancellor, Wendy Purcell, was “placed on leave” by Mr Taylor and the board of governors.

Mr Taylor said in a statement yesterday that he had started an investigation into allegations against him “submitted” to the governors by Professor Purcell. It is understood the allegations, which he denies, include claims he sexually harassed female staff.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England had already recommended that Plymouth undertake an external, independent review of its governance following the events surrounding Professor Purcell.

Steve Pearce, the deputy chairman of Plymouth’s board of governors, is to take over Mr Taylor’s duties and responsibilities.

Mr Pearce, a former acting assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall police, said in a statement: “I can confirm that Judge William Taylor has decided to stand aside from his responsibilities as chairman pending the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations made against him, allegations which he strongly denies.”

He added: “The board has accepted Judge Taylor’s decision, recognising that he has put the interests of the university first in taking this step. 

“The vice-chancellor will remain relieved of her role as chief executive and accountable officer until the board reaches a resolution to the current investigation into the vice-chancellor’s conduct, which it is committed to doing as soon as possible.”

Barbara Bond, Plymouth’s former pro-chancellor and chair of governors, released a statement last week in which she criticised Mr Taylor’s alleged “poor governance practice, the nature of his working relationship with the vice-chancellor” and “his manner when dealing with female members of staff and students”.

She also alleged that he had a “record of inappropriate behaviour”.

Hefce had said in its report on Plymouth that it had received “allegations about the conduct” of Mr Taylor, but that there was “insufficient evidence” for it to investigate.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham