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Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 14 October 1997. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House of the following Report:

 The Report, dated 23 July 1997, of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Endocrinology (Reporter, 1996-97, p. 1039).


 Mr Registrary, I want to utter only a few sentences. The University places Chair after Chair before us as new free-standing establishments. It has shakily promised a dozen personal Chairs for this academic year.

 The Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine thought it would be 'timely' to establish a Chair (Reporter, 1996-97, p. 1040). A University Lectureship is to be suppressed to provide funds. Many of us would be glad to have our Lectureships suppressed so that we might have the Readerships and Professorships we have so long deserved. We think that would be 'timely'.

 In Oxford the new list of recognitions of distinction has recently been published, bringing higher still the total of those awarded titles in our sister University's catching-up operation. We can all make comparisons in our own fields between our fate and theirs. Career prospects are now worse in Cambridge than in any other university in the UK. I warmly urge my fellow-members of the Regent House to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming ballot (see Reporter, 1997-98, p. 3) to tell the General Board that it is time for that to change, for fair recognition of achievements to be given here, too.

 Let us get the principle straight. Then the details of how it is to be done will have to be attended to.

 Such a chance will not soon come again. I have done all I can for the common good in this matter. It is time for others to make their mark resoundingly on the ballot-papers.

 The General Board has so far done nothing to inform the Faculty Promotions Committees, which have already begun to meet, of the contents of the High Court judgement. That judgement is shortly to be published, along with that of Lord Oliver (Reporter, p. 62). Both contain sharp criticism of our procedures. The purpose of the stay was to persuade the University to act now. The University will not discuss with me the reforms that are needed, although it knows that I can ask for a full hearing at any time if I can show 'good cause'. 'Good cause' would include refusing to tell candidates of any new directives sent to Faculty Committees, and refusing to resolve anomalies and unfairnesses arising out of the imperfect drafting of the new regulations. Mr Justice Sedley criticized the secretiveness of the procedures during the hearing; the determination to keep promotions behind closed doors continues under the new procedures. I shall without hesitation go back to the High Court if that does not change. In the meantime I call again (for the third time) for an ad hoc Syndicate to be set up to bring pro-motions reforms to a sensible conclusion.

 I have asked the Vice-Chancellor to tell me how much the University spent fighting me through the High Court when there could have been meetings instead. More money is being spent on a two-day preliminary hearing at the end of this month on the Sex Discrimination case, which could also be settled with a little goodwill on the part of the University. The first Oxford Magazine of the term contains an exchange between me and our former Registrary which will show members of the Regent House the contrast of attitudes.

No remarks were made on the following Report:

 The Report, dated 10 July 1997, of the Faculty Board of Architecture and History of Art on the reconstruction of the History of Art Tripos (Reporter, 1996-97, p. 1040).

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Cambridge University Reporter, 22nd October 1997
Copyright © 1997 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.