Sacked veteran is invited back

October 15, 2004

A disabled 70-year-old emeritus professor whose 40-year association with Manchester Metropolitan University ended when he was escorted from the campus by police is to be reinstated, the university confirmed this week.

Joel Richman of the department of healthcare studies was last month told that he would no longer be given any part-time teaching because there was no money for his work in the budget.

His dean, Vince Ramprogus, called the police after Professor Richman refused to leave his office and demanded an explanation for the decision.

But after Professor Richman enlisted the support of colleagues, contacted his solicitor and called The Times Higher , the university confirmed that he would be kept on in an as yet unspecified role.

A spokesman said: "The vice-chancellor (Alexandra Burslem) had an amicable meeting with Professor Richman and has decided to keep Joel on at the university in an as yet undecided capacity. It will include teaching.

"It is university policy for academic staff to retire at 65 but not uncommon for staff with particular expertise to be kept on beyond that.

This is reviewed annually. Age is not a specific factor."

Professor Richman had been associated with the university or its predecessor institutions since 1966, and was lately employed in the faculty of health, social care and education on a rolling, part-time teaching contract.

On September 14, David Skidmore, head of the department of health and social care studies, wrote to inform him that, as "the result of responding to a (financial) 'at risk' strategy", the faculty dean, Professor Ramprogus, had decreed that he was no longer required.

"It is with personal sadness that I write this letter since you have been very supportive of the department and of me personally, for many years," he added. "Your contribution to our portfolio has been outstanding and I know all the staff who have engaged with you will miss you tremendously."

Professor Richman visited Professor Ramprogus' office, which led to the police being called.

Professor Richman said he was unsure what he would be offered. He pointed out that he had been informed he would not be given a new contract after the start of term. He had also carried out PhD supervision in the summer.

He added: "I've always had cordial relations with the vice-chancellor. But I take issue with some of the things done under her name by her senior staff."

A university spokesman added: "Manchester Met has a robust policy on equal opportunities and discrimination, which was recently deemed 'exemplary' by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and described as 'well-developed' by a Quality Assurance Agency institutional audit in July 2004."

phil.baty@thes.co.uk

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