An interesting short article in the Times Higher this week, in which Baroness Bottomley, who is chair of the board of the headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson, states that in future teaching led institutions will look beyond the academy for leaders.
She suggests that large research intensive universities should continue to be run by academics, because an impressive research record is needed to gain respect of faculty staff.
Teaching led institutions on the other hand could be run by someone from outside academia.
So where shall we start? Working in a university that could be described as teaching led, this sounds like so much of the rhetoric we hear about universities from the current establishment. That is, the Russell Group are important, and considered to be “proper” universities, and no one else is.
Believe me, in an institution like ours, we also look up to our senior staff and expect them to be strong academically, in research and teaching. We have had a DVC with no academic background, and he did command respect but he was part of a team and brought very specific skills to the table An exec team still needs to include strong academic leadership.
So this isn’t to say that we can’t learn or benefit from senior staff with broader experiences, rather than having been in a University all their lives, but that successful organisations recognise the full range of skills and experiences needed.
And finally I’m old enough to remember the anagram you get from Virginia Bottomley’s name.