Yet another senior management post is currently being advertised, this time a Pro-Vice Chancellor for ‘Engagement’. Some time ago, we supplemented our PVC for quality and standards and our PVC for the student experience with a new PVC for education, to add to our dangerously understaffed top floor. It then seemed that the number of education-related head honchos threatened the status of those on the research side of the stairs, as this autumn another senior management post was advertised, at a to-be-negotiated, but one assumes eye-watering, salary, adding more top brass to the research pontiffocracy. Again, exactly what this person was expected to do was not clear. The REF was alluded to but no actual measurable duties were specified other than ‘answering to’ the existing PVC for Research and Enterprise.

And now it is the turn of ‘Engagement’. Remembering that each department already has at least one person responsible for teaching / research / etc who answers to their faculty Associate Dean, who in turn answers to a Dean, who in turn answers to at least one PVC, we felt it was time to look more closely at what these rather expensive new colleagues will do for their daily crust.

Simon Hoggart used to say that if the opposite of a politician’s statement (e.g. ‘we support hard working families’) was ridiculous then the original statement wasn’t worth making. Kenwright has suggested that if it is not clear how the holder of a management post’s success or failure could be judged after a given interval from the job description, then the post isn’t worth having. So, let’s look at the PVC for engagement’s ‘specific duties’, shall we?

– University Planning and Resource Group
– Internal groups as advised by the Vice-Chancellor
– Business and Community Engagement Group (Chair)
– Various promotions and professorial pay committees
– ‘We are Lancaster’ (Lead)
– Dukes Partnership
– Lead on the Public Arts Strategy
– Santander Advisory Group (Chair)
– Appropriate approvals as delegated by Senate or the Vice-Chancellor

Well that’s perfectly clear then!

Those of us unfortunate enough to have to assess module descriptions are told to use Bloom’s Taxonomy of measurable verbs to ensure our learning outcomes can be tested (e.g. ‘able to explain phlogiston theory’, not ‘understands phlogiston theory’). If our leaders cannot come up with more convincing descriptions of what their new chums will do, other than add critical mass to the air of collective self-importance with which they stride across campus between meetings clutching folders and frowning earnestly, then one wonders whether the money might be better spent on subscriptions to journals, books for the library, bottles of deuterated solvents or anything else which would actually enhance research, learning or the university in general.

Comments are closed.