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SCAN has learnt that Bowland College Principal Joe Thornberry is to be made redundant as staff development officer at the end of this academic year. The news follows the revelation that the University’s search committee refused to recommend Thornberry for a third term as Bowland College Principal.
[quote align=”alignright”] The restructuring will see two members of staff, including Thornberry, made redundant.[/quote]
Thornberry’s redundancy is due to a “restructuring” of the organisational and educational development (OED) unit, located within the human resources department of the university, which is to take place at the end of the 2013/14 academic year. The restructuring will see two members of staff, including Thornberry, made redundant. Head of OED James Howard said: “OED is looking to restructure to enable a clear focus on organisational development to support the University in meeting its strategic objectives.”
The restructuring follows the refusal by the University’s search committee to recommend Thornberry for a third term as Bowland College Principal. In Week 8, Lent term, SCAN revealed that the search committee – appointed by the University to recommend the Bowland College Principal for the 2014/15 academic year – rejected all three of the candidates who had put their names forward for the position, leaving Bowland without a principal for the next academic year. It has since come to light that Thornberry was one of those candidates, standing for a third term as Principal.
An emergency meeting of the Bowland College Syndicate, held on Thursday Week 7, Lent term, was called to discuss the search committee’s refusal to reappoint Thornberry, the College Syndicate’s preferred candidate. “It was noted that despite the Search Committee having met, no nominee had been brought forward for approval to Syndicate even though the current College Principal had stood for re-appointment,” the minutes of the emergency meeting read. “This was considered to be an unacceptable outcome for the College.”
The College Syndicate suggested that the refusal to reappoint Thornberry was “an implied slur on the capabilities of the current College Principal.”
The Syndicate’s meeting concluded by reaffirming Thornberry’s leadership as Bowland College Principal, with the belief that there was “no reason why this should not continue.” “Syndicate seeks and supports the re-appointment of Joe Thornberry for a further term of office,” the meeting minutes read.
The position of Bowland College Principal has since been re-advertised, though it is so far unknown whether any new candidates have come forward for the position. However, observers remain bewildered as to why Thornberry was not reappointed to the position, which has since been compounded following the announcement of his redundancy.
[quote align=”alignright”] …it is so far unknown whether any new candidates have come forward for the position[/quote]
The University and College Union (UCU) – of which Thornberry is a member and acting branch president at Lancaster – is reportedly taking a close interest in the case. UCU Regional Official, Martyn Moss told SCAN: “UCU have concerns regarding the process of the delayed renewal of the appointment to the Principalship of Bowland College and the restructuring of the Organisation and Development (OED) unit, particularly as both directly affect senior UCU Branch Officer, Joe Thornberry.
“We will be monitoring developments very closely.”
The staff publication Subtext, meanwhile, drew attention to the process by which the search committee came to its conclusion not to appoint any of the three potential candidates for Bowland College Principal, labelling the process as being “badly handled.”
“The procedure to be adopted by the panel was not agreed in advance,” Subtext said. The publication argued that the candidates for the position did not appear to be scored in an objective way, and that it was unclear as to whether the decision of the search committee was to be reached by a simple majority or whether unanimity was necessary.
Subtext continued by alleging that the chair of the search committee, Professor Amanda Chetwynd, and the rest of the panel “didn’t try very hard to reach an agreed appointment: they seem to have given up after a few minutes and agreed to make no appointment at all.” When SCAN approached Professor Chetwynd to ask about the process of selecting a candidate when the initial news broke in Lent Term, she declined to comment.
Joe Thornberry has served two terms as Bowland College Principal. During that time he oversaw the successful refurbishment of Bowland bar, while as a member of University Senate he was instrumental in holding the University to account for its decision to close the music department during the 2012/2013 academic year. As acting branch chair of the UCU he has been an active spokesperson for the UCU during the ongoing industrial pay disputes between the UCU and the University and Colleges Employment Association (UCEA).