University left to search for new Chief Operating Officer following resignation

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University House is where the Chief Operating Officer is based. Photo by Meher Gupta

Andrew Neal has this week resigned from his post as Chief Operating Officer of Lancaster University.

In a short message to staff, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Smith said that Mr. Neal “has decided to step down from his role and to leave the University over the course of the summer. While I regret this decision, I understand his personal reasons for doing so.”

The Vice-Chancellor added that “Andrew has been a key part of the successful strategic development of this University over the past decade, especially with regard to ensuring financial stability and the modernisation of the estate.”

The Chief Operating Officer is responsible for overseeing the University’s central services, including finance, facilities, human resources, IT systems, marketing, research and enterprise services and student-based services.

As such, Neal was a key figure in the University’s Business Process Review (BPR), a deeply unpopular £1.5m review of administrative procedures which was initiated by previous Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings. The BPR was shelved by the University earlier this month.

Commenting on the news, Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) President George Gardiner said: “Andrew has served at the University for a long time and I wish him all the best for the future.

“At a time when we have a new Vice Chancellor and the University is searching for a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the role of Chief Operating Officer also presents an opportunity for Lancaster to make a critical appointment at a high level.”

Gardiner stressed that “Whoever is to take on the role must have an acute awareness of the complexities of Higher Education, alongside an understanding of the importance of student participation at all levels of University decision making.”

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