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Report of the Council on the management of the University Centre

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In the academical year 1998-99, the Council on the recommendation of the Finance Committee, approved proposals from the University Centre Syndicate for revised per capita funding arrangements for the University Centre. In doing so, and again acting on the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Council asked the Syndicate to review the Centre's current management structure, under which the General Manager reported to the Syndicate through the Centre's Management Committee. That review has now been completed by the Syndicate, and the Council, on the advice of the Syndicate, make proposals to the University for significant changes in the management structure of the Centre.

2. Attached to this Report as Annex 1 is the text of a letter from the Chairman of the Syndicate to the Vice-Chancellor which was considered and approved in principle by the Council at their meeting on 23 September 2000. The text of revised regulations for the University Centre, to give effect to the re-structuring, is attached as Annex 2.

3. The Council have considered the Syndicate's recommendation that an internal user group should be established to advise the General Manager on members' needs and concerns. Whilst they do not want to formalize the establishment of this group in the regulations, they have, however, agreed to invite the General Manager through the Registrary to make proposals for the membership of such a group under the Chairmanship of a senior member of the Council. The Council would not expect routinely to receive reports from the user group, but they believe that there may be occasions when it would be helpful to the General Manager, the Registrary, and the Council for the Chairman of the Group to be able to speak directly to the Council about the Centre's activities.

4. In response to the Syndicate's recommendations about the workload of the General Manager, the Council have agreed that his present responsibilities for food safety should be transferred to the Director of Health and Safety, with immediate effect. They consider that this will provide the General Manager with the capacity to develop his role as envisaged by the Syndicate and will also reflect proper separation of duties.

5. With these comments, the Council have accepted the Syndicate's conclusions and recommendations. Accordingly they recommend:

I. That the University Centre Syndicate and Management Committee be discharged with effect from 1 January 2001.

II. That responsibility for the management of the University Centre be transferred to the Registrary from 1 January 2001, with appropriate financial controls.

III. That a Centre User Group be established, to advise the General Manager on members' needs and concerns.

IV. That the regulations for the University Centre (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 629) be amended as set out in Annex 2.

20 November 2000

ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor
A. J. BADGER
C. R. J. BAILEY
MAT COAKLEY
A. L. R. FINDLAY
PETER GODDARD
GORDON JOHNSON
JOHN A. LEAKE
A. M. LONSDALE
C. LUDLOW
M. D. MACLEOD
ONORA O'NEILL
JEREMY SANDERS
M. SCHOFIELD
DAVID M. THOMPSON
R. E. THORNTON

ANNEX 1

Letter from the Chairman of the University Centre Syndicate to the Vice-Chancellor dated 5 July 2000

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

Management of the University Centre

You may recall that the University Council, on the recommendation of the Finance Committee, approved revised per capita funding arrangements for the University Centre in April 1999. However, this funding agreement was made subject to the condition that the University Centre Syndicate should review the Centre's current management structure, under which the General Manager reports to the Syndicate through the Management Committee (Minute 189 of Council Meeting dated 26 April 1999 refers).

That review has been completed and I can now report the recommendations made by the Syndicate at its meeting on 3 July 2000. A number of management models were initially considered but these were reduced to two options: the replacement of the present Syndicate and Management Committee structure by a single Executive Board; and the dissolution of the Syndicate and Management Committee and the transfer of management responsibility directly to the Registrary. In considering the two options, the Syndicate agreed that the basic aim of the Centre was the provision of services to members within an agreed budget. It was also agreed that, despite the immense amount of work undertaken by the Management Committee (which should be formally recorded), the current structure did not produce a commensurately high level of added value. The Syndicate felt that the creation of an Executive Board would do little to remedy this position. In contrast, the Syndicate thought that, by empowering the General Manager, the direct line management solution offered the optimum mix of executive authority, responsibility, and management reaction, provided two other measures were put in place. Firstly, there would be a requirement for the exercise of appropriate financial control, to be satisfied perhaps by the General Manager submitting monthly management reports and an annual report and accounts to the Finance Committee via the Registrary. Secondly, the Syndicate thought it important that the Centre management should be responsive to the needs of its members, and it was felt that this would be best achieved through the establishment of an internal user group rather than by any form of external body. The Syndicate understood that University Council would have to give its assent to the proposal, and that the appropriate Statutes and Ordinances would have to be formally amended, but believed the change in management should be undertaken as expeditiously as possible, with a target date of 1 January 2001.

The Syndicate was also aware that the empowerment of the General Manager could lead to an increase in his work load and therefore it would be sensible to divest him of his Food Safety responsibilities, as already proposed in my letter UC/FSA/00 dated 10 March 2000. Moreover, the Syndicate considered that his role as University Catering Adviser would also need to be reviewed in the light of the direct line management proposal. However, provided these issues can be resolved, the Syndicate considered that the direct line management solution offered the most sensible way forward for the management of this important University facility.

In sum, the Syndicate unanimously recommended that:

(a) The University Centre Syndicate and Management Committee be disestablished with effect from 1 January 2001.
(b) Responsibility for the management of the University Centre be transferred to the Registrary from 1 January 2001, with appropriate financial controls.
(c) An internal user group be established, to advise the General Manager on members' needs and concerns.
(d) The workload of the General Manager, with particular reference to Food Safety and Catering Adviser responsibilities, be reviewed.

I should be grateful for advice on what further steps are now needed to take the matter forward. In the meantime, the Syndicate and Management Committee will of course continue to oversee the Centre's activities pending any formal change to the management structure.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Thompson

Chairman, University Centre Syndicate

ANNEX 2

University Centre

Membership of the University Centre

1. The following shall be entitled to be members of the University Centre:

(a) members of the Regent House;
(b) University Officers and Fellows of Colleges;
(c) registered Graduate Students.

2. There shall be such other categories of membership as shall be determined from time to time by the Council.

3. The Registrary may, for good cause, suspend the membership of any member either for a limited period or indefinitely, provided that any suspension under this regulation is reported to the Council at the earliest opportunity and that such a member may appeal against the suspension, or against the period of suspension, to the Council, whose decision shall be final.

General Manager of the University Centre

1. There shall be the University office of General Manager of the University Centre, the holder of which may also be designated by the Council as University Catering Adviser.

2. There shall be an Appointments Committee for the University Centre which shall consist of:

(a) The Vice-Chancellor (or a duly appointed deputy) as Chairman;
(b) the Chairman of the Standing Appointments Committee for the Central Administrative Offices;
(c) five members of the Regent House appointed by the Council, two on the Council's own nomination, one on the nomination of the Finance Committee, and two on the nomination of the Chairman of the Centre User Group.

The Registrary (or a deputy) shall act as Secretary of the Committee. Members in class (c) shall be appointed in the Michaelmas Term to serve for four years from 1 January following their appointment.

3. Appointments and reappointments to the University office of General Manager shall be made by the Appointments Committee for the University Centre, for such periods as shall be determined by the Committee, subject to the approval of the Council.

4. It shall be the duty of the General Manager to manage the University Centre and other catering and social facilities as agreed from time to time by the Council, in line with financial and other policy determined from time to time by the Council. The General Manager shall be accountable to the Council through the Registrary and shall:

(a) present an annual statement of accounts to the Finance Committee in the Michaelmas Term each year;
(b) make an Annual Report to the Council on the affairs of the Centre.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 22 November 2000
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