Your next VC?

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.

2 thoughts on “Your next VC?

  1. There are a few VCs who come from politics. Bill Rammel at University of Bedfordshire and Baroness Blackstone at Greenwich comes to mind.

    Who do you need to be to run a £120m plus business with global and political links? Probably to be a good leader of a good team. Its not just about the acadmic background. There are also a lot of CEOs who lead a wide and diverse range of companies during their careers.

  2. Peter, I agree with you to a point. I was objecting in my piece to the assumption that teaching led universities don’t need academics as leaders, whereas I recognise the need for an exec team which includes strong academic leadership as well as other skills/abilities.

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