I provide translation of an article published by Jason Tsui in Undergrad, HKUSU. The views represented are not mine, however the overall sentiment of this article agrees with my personal view of what a bad idea it was for the University of Hong Kong to offer a position of responsibility to someone with a track-record in dismantling successful academic departments. The article mentions that 30 colleagues were fired by the application of Evans’ restructuring criteria. In reality, 11 members of staff were declared at risk of redundancy (I was one). Possibly there was confusion with parallel recruitment adverts for 30 staff during the sacking of their peers or with voluntary departures to better-managed institutions, which eventually have risen the number of departures to almost 40 (without including departures of new staff that joined the School after 2012). The author also appears to have misunderstood that Prof John Allen’s claim for unfair dismissal was successful. Matthew Evans’ vindictive behaviour against John Allen ammounted to breach of contract. My petition for John Allen’s reinstatement stands.
This is how Dicky Clymo, emeritus professor at Queen Mary University of London, came into my life. First, he taught me about iron pans in peatlands. Second, he taught me that calling someone who is conveying a false statement a liar has implications (difficult to know and/or prove) over a) the person’s knowledge of the truth, and b) the person’s intention to confuse, manipulate or cheat her audience. A polite gentleman, he advised me to use instead the phrase that X manager was misrepresenting Y or Z fact or opinion. (more…)
Simon Gaskell has announced with an email to all staff his retirement. This is good news for the College, although it will be challenging to find a successor to reverse such decline witnessed in the past few years. Together with the departures of Matthew Evans and Jeremy Kilburn, none of the culprits of the destruction of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences remains in post. As I put it to Gaskell in November 2011:
With two tweets, Prof Matthew Evans announced his notice to Queen Mary University of London, standing down on July 1st, 2016. His departure follows that of Prof Jeremy Kilburn. I once shared with the Principal of Queen Mary my view that because managers (like politicians) change all the time, the incentive to build an improved department (which in former times would mean personal recognition) appears to be lacking. Indeed, this pair of managers deeply transformed the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences: in a blink of an eye they recruited over 50 new academics who joined 40 members of staff surviving since 2011, while effecting 35 departures of active researchers. Was it for the better? I think Prof Evans would say so:
Chris Havergal reports today on Queen’s University Belfast plans to axe 236 (note the precision in their count) jobs and reduce student numbers by 1,010. James Field reports that the University of Surrey is to cut 100 jobs and scrap its politics department, partly using the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a guide. Jack Grove reports that up to 165 jobs may be lost at London Metropolitan University. The University of Aberdeen is to cut about 150 jobs as part of efforts to save millions of pounds in the coming months (this item from BBC but see also my post over one protagonist).
Let us “refocus on current strengths”. Perhaps we were currently somewhat unfocused but nevertheless strong. Or perhaps we can “reduce” our current strengths (“staff”) to gain a more viable “student-to-staff” ratio. After all students pay more now, they need fewer teachers. (more…)
Last week I visited colleagues that continue to work at my former department. I and others had our affiliations severed following the restructuring of SBCS in 2012. My trip coincided with the publication of the names of individuals (and their contributed papers) representing SBCS in a major UK government evaluation, known as the REF. It is therefore unsurprising that conversations centred, amongst other things, to an evaluation of the REF outcomes for the department and the effects the restructuring had on its performance. Some of the comments I heard are difficult to transmit without placing valued colleagues or myself at risk of further reprisals. In this category I place important matters such as the wellbeing (health) of friends who have been put under “performance management” or subjective views on the dramatic shift in what is being valued and rewarded within the restructured department.
Hell, everyone should be extremely pleased (I hope that you are)
cause we has done incredibly well!
While accepting (in the next little while) a diverse way of presenting
what the Ref has set in display
let us congratulate ourselves for none the less & none the more
¡the Queen is ninth in the (w)hole!
Such concentration of expertise once existed,
its random slaughter offset by poaching
when vanity management prevailed, slackers weeded out
and now Biology ranks 23rd, likely the UK department most renown!
as we savoured the mindless managerial rampage spread
and while nobody expected the holy Spaniards in their bed
the inquisitor appeased himself in the mirror: “How does the Head of School fair?”
“Incredibly well.” Time to open the champagne!
Only please, when setting targets for the new year,
bear in mind that they should be absolutely clear
for the goal has been – do not forget the rallying cry –
to be in the top five, or perhaps the top ten.
Looking for a new VP, then, to start, once again,
Dante’s ecliptical danse until the end.