Power steering

August 12, 2005

Whose ride? Match the vice-chancellors to their vehicles

  • David Vandelinde, Warwick University
  • Steve Smith, Exeter University
  • Roland Levinsky, Plymouth Univeristy
  • Drummond Bone, Liverpool University
  • Peter Knight, University of Central England
  • a) A 42ft yacht
    b) Hand-built Jabiru aircraft
    c) 125cc Cagiva trails motorbike
    d) D-reg Mercedes
    e) Maserati Barchetta

    Answers at the end of the article.

    Is your vice-chancellor a bit of a boy racer or a steady hand at the wheel?

    They say you can tell a man by his motor. But can you tell a vice-chancellor by his or her car, boat or plane? writes Lee Elliot Major.

    The question was prompted after it emerged that fast cars are among the prized possessions of an increasing number of university heads.

    It is perhaps not surprising that the modern-day university leader escapes to the seas, skies or roads to relieve the stresses of running a multimillion-pound operation on paper-thin margins, while managing several thousand academics.

    But what we hadn't expected was the range of powerful machines that the vice-chancellors own: a hand-built Jabiru aircraft, a 42ft yacht and a rare and beautiful racing Maserati Barchetta were uncovered in our survey of ten academic heads.

    However, rumours of Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars proved unfounded. In fact, some vice-chancellors are known for driving far more humble vehicles, including an ageing bronze D-reg Mercedes and, in one case, a 125cc Cagiva trials motorcycle. Another vice-chancellor, Southampton University's Bill Wakeham, makes much of his environmentally friendly mode of transport - a bicycle.

    Yet, despite the employment of "public transport co-ordinators" in some universities to encourage academics and students to travel to campus by bus or bike instead of car, it seems that most vice-chancellors put green policies on hold when it comes to their private lives.

    Sheffield Hallam University confirmed that its vice-chancellor, Diana Greene, has a pilot's licence, but was unable to tell us what kind of aircraft she flew.

    More typical examples are York University's vice-chancellor, Brian Cantor, who drives an X-type Jaguar, and David Eastwood, East Anglia University's vice-chancellor, who drives a Volvo V70 2.4l turbo estate.

    One important point stressed by the vice-chancellors' offices that responded to the survey was that these vehicles were not provided by the university as part of remuneration packages, but were owned privately by the university heads.

    So does the size of the car, plane or boat say anything about the vice-chancellor or the academic institution they are in charge of?

    Does ownership of an aeroplane show that the vice-chancellor is taking the institution to new horizons? Does a large boat suggest a person fighting to keep a university afloat? Does the size of vehicle correlate to the size of university budget?

    Check the answers below to see if that's the case and to find out if you matched the right vehicles with the right vice-chancellors - all of which are listed at the top of the page.

    l.elliotmajor@thes.co.uk

    Who's ride?
    1 (c) 2 (d) 3 (a) 4 (e) 5 (b)

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