Plymouth deputy goes on secondment

One of Plymouth University’s deputy vice-chancellors has started a government secondment, as upheaval at the troubled institution continues

October 20, 2014

Source: Alamy

Ray Playford has been appointed to a part-time national government advisory role with Healthcare UK, the university announced today.

The secondment is for six months and the university says it is planned that Professor Playford will return to Plymouth full-time at the end of that period.

Plymouth has undergone a period of turmoil since the then chair of governors, William Taylor, suspended vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell in July.

Professor Purcell, who has since had her status changed to paid leave, is being investigated by a special committee of the governors on a series of charges that the university has never disclosed.

But Times Higher Education understands that the case against her includes a complaint about her management style.

Mr Taylor, a retired judge, resigned from his post last month in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female staff and students – allegations he denies.

David Coslett, the university’s other deputy vice-chancellor, has led the institution in Professor Purcell’s absence.

Plymouth said in a statement on Professor Playford: “He will continue in his role as deputy vice-chancellor at the university but will reduce his hours between now and the end of March so that he can run his new advisory role alongside his role at Plymouth.

“During this time Professor Playford will continue to have oversight of the university’s strategic research agenda and for the medical and dental Schools, but his other duties will be temporarily reassigned to one of the university’s pro vice-chancellors who will join the university’s executive team.”

The statement added: “Training and education is a key sector for Healthcare UK and Professor Playford’s lead advisory role will call upon his vast expertise as a practising clinician with a deep understanding of healthcare training and education in the UK and internationally to support the nation’s training and education sector in winning business overseas.” 

Professor Purcell made a six-hour appearance before the special committee of the governors earlier this month, delivering a 150-page rebuttal of the charges against her.

The special committee will now prepare a final report, before the governors make the ultimate decision on whether to reinstate or dismiss her.

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