Tag Archives: Leadership


What is happening to our senior leadership? The last issue of LUText advertised for a new Dean of FHM, meaning that the incumbent is stepping down after less than four years in the post, not least in the midst of the development of the Health Innovation Campus, the biggest expansion of health and medicine since the formation of the Faculty.

The current Dean of FASS has been seconded to a leadership role at UA92, and now subtext hears that another Faculty Dean may be off to pastures new after less than three years in post. Maybe the leadership training the University has invested in lately will allow some of these posts to be filled by internal appointments. After all, it is a tad embarrassing that our big shot star prize external appointments aren’t sticking around nearly long enough to make an ‘impact’.


subtext has heard rumours suggesting that another highly senior member of the University is soon to leave. We are certain to produce a professional obituary if the rumour is confirmed to be true. Since we can’t confirm anything for now, let’s just say that having left their mark on campus, things are looking upp for this person.


Within a matter of weeks, HR has lost both of its Assistant Directors. Just in time, oddly, for a major restructure of HR which has seen the consolidation of those posts into a single Deputy Directorship of HR. Last month, Assistant Director (Operations) Sonya Clarkson left to head up a HR department at a different university. A few weeks later, Assistant Director (Strategy) Tracy Walters also left.

The advertisement for the new post of Deputy Director of Human Resources referred to Sonya Clarkson’s departure – ‘As a result of the successful promotion of the current Assistant Director of Human Resources (Operations) to a Human Resources Director role within the higher education sector, the vacancy of Deputy Director of Human Resources has emerged.’

Hang on a minute. The language in the advertisement implies that the post is a slight repackaging of the Assistant Directorship – why else would it be suggested that the departing Assistant Director would have walked into the new role if she had decided to stick around? HR appears to be implying something less than complimentary about its other Assistant Director of HR, Tracy Walters, who is not mentioned at all in the ad. Readers may wonder whether Ms. Walters was offered a lesser role within the new structure, but declined, opting instead to move on from Lancaster entirely.


With leadership such a hot topic in the context of UA92, one wonders about the progress of the new line management structure for academics, based on ‘group leads’ (sic) acting as line managers for members of their research groups. This policy was spearheaded in FST and, regardless of questions about the wisdom of a one-size-fits-all plan for organising research groupings as diverse as Particle Physics and Social Processes (Psychology), it involved an exciting series of away days, networking masterclasses and the like, with external tutors leading the expected range of fatuous activities. So popular were the word showers, etc. with the ‘leads’ themselves that the Dean of FST was forced to insist, in a terse mass email, that they made every effort to attend the ‘Leadership Development Program’. This was backed up with a not-so-subtle attempt to intimidate by insisting that apologies (including reasons for non-attendance) be directed to him in person.


Dear subtext,

Leadership is a worthless, dangerous concept, in your account of UA92 and its focus thereon. I presume, therefore, subtext welcomes the reorganization/merging of the Department of Leadership and Management in the management school that it has previously bemoaned. As for personal development not being worth of a university programme, it indeed wouldn’t be if it accorded to the banal stereotypes in your criticism of the UA92 ethos.

However, Lancaster has for a long time led the world in the provision of intellectually rigorous degrees which have at the core the principle that the personal development they offer inevitably requires a deep understanding of the social and political structures and processes within which the individual exists and operates. Lancaster is a lead partner in the International Masters in Practicing Management, along with Universities in Japan, Brazil, India and Canada; and its MBA, certainly while I was there, led the world in its development of the concept of managerial mindfulness, integrating this with both the usual business disciplines, and a deep understanding of sustainability and ethics.

OK, I left Lancaster for York. My underlying interest is that I live in Manchester, a great city, but still characterized by inequality and social exclusion. Manchester lost a University, UMIST, on its merger with the Victoria University of Manchester. That merger was a mistake, and a path Lancaster did well to avoid with Liverpool. Particularly with the downsizing of Manchester Business School, and Manchester’s humanities departments, there is a civic gap in the city where another university should be. UA92 might fill that gap. How it does so is up to you guys. But my hope as a Mancunian is that it does what it says it will about leadership and self development, but with the imagination and rigor that already characterize Lancaster.

Professor Bill Cooke


Dear subtext,

Did you know the total amount of money the library received from the payment of overdue items (excluding costs of replacing lost book as far as I can gather) was £14,541.95 for the period 7 October 2016 (start of term) to 6 October 2017. Wonder where that went! What do we think of that… certainly not a drop in the ocean.
See freedom of information link for a little more: https://tinyurl.com/ycbem68u

All the best

Alison Clifton


As we draw nearer to the Xmas break this is the time when stories emerge to guide us through the shambles in which we find ourselves. Of course, we always were in a state of confusion but the events of the last year have made the nature of what is around us much clearer. The beast has come out of the shadows and is showing its face. We have made a terrible mistake and as the flaming omnishambles of the UA92 project is revealed, the one option that nobody seems to want to discuss is the one that would cause the most embarrassment in the short term and the least pain in the long run: cancelling the whole thing and moving on. In this there are many parallels with Brexit, not least that the decision to go ahead came about through the same mixture of ignorance, complacency and wishful thinking.

As with Brexit, those charged with trying to make it work are facing an impossible task. If UA92 degrees are to be accepted as being on a par with Lancaster degrees (as promised on its website), they must meet the same quality assurance requirements. Anyone who has had to steer a new module proposal, much less a new degree scheme, through the QA process will know just how exacting it is. However, the UA92 degree model is the polar opposite of Lancaster’s. The core is ‘personal development’, not academic achievement, and the role of traditional study is to be a supporting mechanism in enabling that to happen. It would be like telling our own students that the Lancaster Award is more important in getting their degrees than, say, a well-argued dissertation. How will this be consistent with MARP? Unfortunately, our already overworked staff are now tasked with trying to square that particular circle. And they don’t have much time to do it. If the target date of September 2019 for UA92’s first intake is to be met, everything needs to be ready for UCAS approval and publication by March 2018, just under three months away!

Among many concerns about the UA92 model is the obsessive focus on ‘leadership’ and the bogus implicit assumptions that: a) ‘character’, not social structures and processes, is the primary determinant of individuals’ life chances; and b) roles other than that of ‘leaders’ are inferior, so that a successful/good life can only mean being in a position of dominance relative to others. A (the?) primary job of university is to produce well-informed citizens capable of critical thinking, including being able to see through this kind of nonsense. Unless we do this, we are failing. Those behind the UA92 project are confident that its degrees will be seen to be as good as Lancaster’s. The fear of a growing number of staff is that in time our own degrees will be seen to be only as good as UA92’s.