Vale, Lord Liddle. LU Text reported on 12 June that, after seven years in post, our Pro-Chancellor will not be seeking reappointment when his term of office ends later this year (he’s due to step down on 31 July) and the University is now searching for ‘an exceptional individual’ to succeed him. Any subtext readers interested in applying can visit the pages of Odgers Berndtson, ‘one of the world’s pre-eminent executive search consultancies’, and read the glossy 16-page candidate brief, dated 20 April 2020:
Back in April 2018, when Lord Liddle was reaching the end of his first five-year term of office, subtext 176 noted that his term of office had surprisingly been renewed for just two years, rather than the customary five. ‘Has Lord Liddle struck a Granita-style deal with former security supremo Baroness Neville-Jones, our ambitious Deputy Pro-Chancellor, whose term of office is up on 31 July 2020?’ we wondered. Well, it would seem not, as Baroness Neville-Jones will chair the Pro-Chancellor Search Committee.
Alongside a long list of all the campus capital projects that now aren’t going to happen, the candidate brief gives an insight into what ‘success’ means, as far as our Council members are concerned. The pitch from Baroness Neville-Jones announces that ‘success has included being the first UK university with a campus in West Africa, in Ghana; being at the forefront of rising to the challenges of EU exit through establishing a new campus in Leipzig, Germany, and developing the ground-breaking UA92 partnership in our own region.’ Who wouldn’t want to be the Chair of the Board that approved those decisions?
The brief trumpets our ‘financial strength’, and in particular that on 31 July 2019, we were ‘rated as AA- by Standard and Poor’s’, but fails to mention that this rating was downgraded from AA- to A+ on 20 September 2019. S&P noted on 16 January 2020 that, following this downgrade, ‘the UK has the majority of “A” category rated public universities [i.e. not as strong as the “AA” category] outside the US’:
And what’s this we read about the term of office for the successful candidate? ‘The Pro-Chancellor may hold the office for up to two terms of three years with the approval of the Council. It also requires approval by the Office for Students.’ This would explain why Lord Liddle isn’t standing again. But, hang on, according to the version of the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances currently up on the University website, last updated on 30 March 2020, Ordinance 10.2 states that the Pro-Chancellor’s term of office ‘shall be for up to five years, renewable for one further period of up to five years.’ Is this version of Ordinance 10.2 out of date? Or are we advertising a term of office that conflicts with our own ordinances? Answers on the back of a postcard, please.