Swansea chair of governors apologises over Piercy remarks

Sir Roger Jones says comments by School of Management dean on trade unionists were ‘puerile’

May 20, 2015

Source: Swansea University School of Management

Nigel Piercy

The chair of Swansea University’s council has apologised “unreservedly” for “puerile” remarks made about trade unionists by the dean of the institution’s business school.

Sir Roger Jones, Swansea’s pro-chancellor, says that a blog post by Nigel Piercy that described trade unionists as “creepy little people” is “gratuitously offensive”.

Professor Piercy, whose time at Swansea has been marked by a series of conflicts with staff and students, had written that among those “claiming the right to censor and veto” academics’ pronouncements were “unpleasant and grubby little people, who purport to represent others because they have persuaded a tiny number of people to elect them to office in trades unions and the like”.

Such “creepy little people” were “usually distinguished only by their sad haircuts, grubby, chewed fingernails and failed careers”, he wrote. Another characteristic was “straggly beards”, “half-way between designer stubble and a real beard” and “probably indicative of a hormone deficiency”. 

In an email sent to all Swansea staff on 19 May, Sir Roger says that the university had an excellent relationship with trade unions and he therefore questioned why Professor Piercy had used such “crass” language.

“Was it just an attempt to damage this relationship? Sadly, I am led to conclude that this was his prime motive,” the pro-chancellor writes.

Sir Roger adds: “Academic freedom is a powerful concept and the world would be a poorer place if this was undermined. However the right of free expression must be balanced with the need for respect for others. I feel that Professor Piercy has failed to achieve that balance.

“Therefore as chairman of our council, I join with its members in apologising unreservedly for the dean’s puerile remarks. The university as an institution has been ill served by these gratuitously offensive comments.”

Professor Piercy had previously attracted controversy by telling academics that Swansea’s business school was “not a rest home for refugees from the 1960s, with their ponytails and tie-dyed T-shirts”.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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