Staff at Goldsmiths want Pimlott's head

May 24, 2002

Staff at Goldsmiths College are calling for a vote of no confidence in warden Ben Pimlott (pictured), accusing the historian and royal biographer of a failure of leadership.

It comes as Professor Pimlott's media work takes a high profile after the Queen Mother's death and in the Queen's golden jubilee year. The local 300-member Association of University Teachers will vote on a motion of no confidence following a tense meeting of around 70 members this week.

A plan by more conciliatory members to downgrade the motion into a demand for a more open and accountable approach by Professor Pimlott was narrowly defeated by two votes.

The no-confidence motion, which takes the form of a postal ballot, says:

"In his four years as warden, Professor Ben Pimlott has failed to provide the leadership that Goldsmiths needs... morale amongst staff has fallen to its lowest ever. Trust, judgement and ethical responsibility are aspects of leadership that inspire confidence; when they are absent there is a prima facie case for no confidence. Goldsmiths AUT no longer has confidence in Professor Pimlott as warden of the college."

Some staff are delighted that Professor Pimlott has boosted Goldsmiths'

research profile, with a particularly successful showing in last year's research assessment exercise, but many are unhappy with the way he has achieved this. They perceive his moves as a downgrading of undergraduate teaching.

The motion says: "He has failed signally to engage in meaningful consultation, has ignored staff concerns and has managed autocratically, he has refused to follow equal opportunities procedures, he has instituted academic and administrative reorganisations, bypassing the appropriate bodies and without consulting the affected staff, without proper regard for their welfare, and without alternative plans in case circumstances changed."

Professor Pimlott said in a statement: "Goldsmiths is doing extremely well at the moment, and I am absolutely determined that we should build on success - developing the college as a unique institution of its kind, with a very special kind of reputation. At the same time, we will continue to make strenuous efforts to engage the whole college community in helping to deliver the council's strategy."

A Goldsmiths spokeswoman said the AUT members represented a very small proportion of the university's 1,300 staff and that most staff supported their warden.

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