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Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 7 February 2006. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Dearlove was presiding, with the Senior Proctor, two Pro-Proctors, the Registrary, and 16 other persons present. The following Reports were discussed:

Report of the Council, dated 28 November 2005, on voting arrangements (p. 190).

DAME VERONICA SUTHERLAND:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I was glad, as a new member of the Council, to be able to sign the Report, for it derives, after consideration of remarks made at an earlier Discussion, from the report of a Review Committee which I chaired before joining the Council. This present Report of the Council is still consultative. If its proposals can be improved they will be, before they are put forward for formal approval.

The present Report sets out two principal proposals for action:

First, that the present Ordinances should be somewhat revised, so that there is a better procedure in place whereby complex legislative proposals before the Regent House can be presented clearly to voters, to avoid confusing situations which, of course, discourage voters from expressing their opinion.

Second, that a simple explanation of the principles of the single transferable vote system should be annexed to STV voting papers issued to voters.

May I emphasize that in undertaking this work, both that of preparing the original review committee report and the Council's present Report, those concerned have had only one main purpose, to ensure clarity in these matters for voters.

For my part, I believe that the good functioning of the academic self-government of the University is important to our future, and that when we can improve it we should. This consultative Report is an opportunity for doing this.

Dr D. R. DE LACEY:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, it is somewhat distressing that the Review Committee, which presumably was set up in the hope it understood the topic under review, and has had representations made to it by those who really do, still manages to give the impression that there is only one form of STV. In an earlier Discussion I attempted to indicate that our version singularly fails in the case of elections to committees where there are more than one place to be filled; in that Discussion I stated that 'I was not aware, when I made my submission, that I was expected to do their homework for them'.1 Well, the homework has not yet, it appears, been handed in. Indeed, it is not clear that the Council have understood at all any of the concerns raised in the Discussion; but I do not see how the prestidigitations proposed in paragraph 3 to avoid them can solve the problems of multiple elections.

It may be that the Council believes the problem will be adequately addressed by explaining the disparities (3.5), though we are left to guess whether the 'simple explanation' to be given will be that of the Committee, that of the Electoral Reform Society, or some other. Should not this multiplicity of possible explanations give the Council cause for thought, that it is not perhaps as simple as they seem to think? The President of Lucy Cavendish College has assured us that if the proposals can be improved they will be. Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, they certainly can be!

At last electronic voting is to be considered (2.1), and that is much to be commended. May we hope that the study will include the possibility of electronic submissions of non placets and amendments?

Paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 read as though it is inappropriate to change the person of the Presiding Officer, precisely because the person has already changed in practice. The logic appears somewhat specious, may I ask for clarification or a better justification?

Annex, Regulation 6: I can make no sense of (i) and (ii) or (iii); or, rather, I can make too much sense of it, depending on where I put brackets.2 Please may we be told how to disambiguate it?

Annex, Regulation 15: In the light of current practice, this should surely be revised somewhat along the lines of '15. If an obvious or immaterial error occurs in the published form of a Grace, amendment, or result, the Registrary shall immediately pulp all copies of the offending Reporter and initiate a full cover-up to save the face of those responsible ...'.

1 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2004-05/weekly/5976/14.html.

2 '((i) and (ii)) or (iii)' is not the same as '(i) and ((ii) or (iii))' and 'or' can be inclusive (a or b or both) or exclusive (only one of a or b).

Dr J. S. SANDERS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Intellectual Property issue was one on which I felt strongly, and I looked forward to casting my ballot. Unfortunately I did not receive a ballot paper, and a small survey of my colleagues revealed that Dr R. M. Johnstone and Dr D. M. Alexander did not either.

I informed the Registrary after the announcement of the ballot result.

Although they made a speedy investigation to the best of their abilities, they were unable to discover what went wrong. The ballot papers were sent to my institute. As far as I know, someone else could have used the ballot papers.

Professor R. J. ANDERSON:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Discussion on voting is timely, as some serious problems have become evident in our democratic processes. However, they are not the problems that this Report seeks to tackle.

Last term we had two ballots over which Regents were genuinely divided, one on pay and the other on intellectual property. I believe that both sides found the experience unsatisfactory for various reasons.

Our current arrangements evolved for a much smaller University, in which the majority of Regents were College Fellows. The Colleges provided a forum in which people could discuss the issue of the day and make up their minds. Fly-sheets supporting the various views could be left out on combination room tables, and Fellows could discuss them over port.

Nowadays we have not one thousand Regents but over four thousand. The average Regent is not a College Fellow, or even a teaching officer, but a senior RA working from 9 to 5 (or more likely 8 to 6) in a laboratory. Her social network in Cambridge may include a few lab colleagues but will mostly be built like anybody else's - from neighbours, the parents of her kids' school friends, and people she meets through her hobbies. The extensive social networks that the old College system provided are just not on offer to most of us.

So how can she be contacted by one side or the other in a contested ballot? Traditionally this was done partly via the Discussion that preceded a ballot, partly via the fly-sheets that accompanied the voting papers, and partly via word of mouth. But our average Regent nowadays does not take the Reporter, and her voting package may be insufficient. In the IP ballot, for example, colleagues and I who proposed the amendments were told that we had to present them as a list of edits, rather than as a marked-up copy of the policy that made sense both of the new text and of the text that would replace it. The Council has since decided (see December minutes) that this was wrong, and in future the proponents of an amendment will be able to submit them in a more comprehensible format.

However, the modern Regent is still missing an essential element of the traditional decision-making process, namely an opportunity to participate in the conversation about the issues. Conversely, both sides in a ballot have difficulty reaching the electorate.

Two methods have recently been used. One consisted of press coverage; both sides in the IP debate gave extensive interviews to local and national media. The Council is attempting to limit the use of this in future (November minutes). The second is the chain of command. In the IP ballot, various Pro-Vice-Chancellors and Chairs of Schools sent e-mails to Heads of Departments asking them to sign pro-Council fly-sheets and to get their staff to sign them too. This put those of us on the other side in a quandary. We asked the Heads of Departments to circulate our fly-sheets as well. Many found ingenious reasons not to, or to circulate them too late. There were a few honourable exceptions: the Head of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics declined to circulate either the Council's material or ours, while the Head of the Veterinary School circulated both. However, in most Departments the Council had access to the electorate, while its opponents did not.

A similar pattern became evident when hustings were arranged. Again, there were examples of good practice: the Head of Geography organized a meeting at which Sir Richard Friend put the case for the Council's position and AUT President Mike Clark put the case for the amendments.

However, the general pattern was of blatant bias. Meetings were arranged from which outsiders were excluded, or at which the Council's man spoke from the rostrum while its opponents were reduced to heckling from the floor. In Physics, eight staff who had signed a non-Council fly-sheet were carpeted.

The basic problem is this: in the old days dons could communicate with each other using direct channels such as College combination rooms.

But in today's much larger, non-collegiate University, the effective channels of communication are under official control.

I believe we need to move on two fronts. First, the existing channels must not be abused during a ballot. At the very least, all Heads of Departments should behave as the best did this time, and respect the principle that both sides should be heard.

Second, we must create new channels of communication. As the world moves to e-mail and blogs, democracy must and will adopt these tools. We responded to the Council's use of the chain of command during the IP ballot with a website and a mailing list, but despite distributing almost 2,000 leaflets we managed to get only perhaps a couple of hundred people to visit our website. This was too little, too late. I propose that next time anyone who collects enough signatures to get a fly-sheet printed should also, for the two weeks before the ballot, be able to send e-mail to 'regents@cam.ac.uk'. It is not right for only the Vice-Chancellor to have the ability to send e-mail to all voters.

Finally, the Council in the present Report proposes to give the Presiding Officer more powers, and to start developing systems for electronic voting. I think this is a bad idea. The IP ballot was very badly run; not only were there electoral roll problems and missing ballot papers, but the count was mismanaged. Ordinances, p. 111 demand that the Presiding Officer declare the result as soon as the counting of votes is completed; yet even though the count was completed at 5.30 p.m. on the Monday, the result was told to the press at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and not posted outside the Senate House until after 11 a.m. Copies of the Reporter were first printed saying that the Grace had been passed with amendments, and then that it had been passed unamended - with no formal retraction of, or apology for, the initial printing.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this is just a mess, and computerizing a mess is not the way to fix things; CAPSA surely taught us that. I propose instead that in future the University outsource its ballots. It makes no sense for us to build expensive automation to handle something we do maybe once a year. I took the liberty of obtaining a quote from the Electoral Reform Society: for running a Regent House ballot with 4,000 papers sent and 1,400 returned, they would charge only £715 on top of the printing and postage. Spending perhaps £100,000 to build our own electronic voting system instead would be a shocking waste of money; if the ERS are good enough for bodies as diverse as the AUT and the Royal Academy of Engineering, they'll do for us too.

What we should concentrate our minds on is not the mechanics of the ballot, but the democracy itself. What does, and what should, it mean to be a Regent in our new, enlarged, non-collegiate University?

Professor G. R. EVANS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Report calls to mind Francis Cornford's description of the working of a syndicate, which having 'forgotten what it is sitting on', issues reports 'on some different subject'. STV voting is set aside, its problems unaddressed. But there is much here on quite other aspects of Cambridge's voting arrangements. I am pleased to hear there is room for revision.

'2.3. It was suggested in the Discussion that the Vice-Chancellor should cease to be the presiding officer for voting, but neither the Review Committee nor the Council believe that this is the appropriate course.' Their reasons? '2.4. The Vice-Chancellor already normally delegates to the Administrative Secretary the administrative work of presiding over an election. The Vice-Chancellor would also have authority under Statute D, III, 7, should she or he see fit, to delegate the presiding officer's responsibility under the proposed new procedure for ordering the questions to be put to the Regent House (see section 3 below), to a member of the Regent House.' That is not what Statute D, III, 7 says. The Vice-Chancellor who 'shall have power to appoint persons to act on his or her behalf as follows' 'may appoint a member of the Regent House to act as his or her deputy'. Statute K, 9 does not permit delegation to a person but only to a body. The distinction is important. Ask our public and administrative lawyers. I have raised this point with the Registrary. He passed it on to the Administrative Secretary who did not appear to recognize in face-to-face conversation a couple of weeks ago that there is anything wrong with his drafting. So I am obliged to put the question publicly now. Nothing personal. This is about the appropriate exercise of powers of great importance to Cambridge's democracy.

The reality of what is proposed in this Report is indeed a delegation of powers to the Administrative Secretary, to determine what the Regent House votes on. (3.2) The Review Committee 'suggested detailed amendments to the regulations to permit the Vice-Chancellor, as presiding officer, to place the questions clearly and logically in front of the voters.' It is one thing (though not necessarily the right thing) to agree to allow this power to the Vice-Chancellor. It is quite another to permit it to pass into the hands of a United Administrative Service which does not appear to know its deputizing from its delegation. Unless the change leads to improved clarity in drafting, and that is not in evidence in this Report, it must be a retrograde step to let the wording of amendments emanating from the Regent House pass under the control of the Old Schools.

If you think I am being unduly alarmist, try substituting 'Administrative Secretary' for 'Vice-Chancellor' throughout the proposed amended Regulations. For example, 'provided that the Administrative Secretary may instead decide that a vote shall be taken by ballot, using the procedure prescribed in the Single Transferable Vote regulations, between propositions that the Grace be left unamended or that it be substituted by one of such one or more alternative forms as may be determined by the Administrative Secretary to reflect the amendment or amendments proposed.'

Look closely at (3.4). Two things are conflated, the desideratum that 'the procedural regulations should be expressed as clearly and simply as possible,' and the bid to make radical change to those regulations. It is admitted that 'The draft regulations are not entirely as proposed by the Review Committee.' Notably, 'In Regulation 6, provision has been made for a withdrawn Grace, if resubmitted in its original form, either to be the subject of a vote, or for an explanation to be given.' It is that last part that worries me, and I invite the Council to tell us in its reply who drafted these provisions which were apparently not the Review Committee's recommendation. I suppose, given the above, we can guess. The President of Lucy Cavendish College spoke to endorse what her committee had actually recommended.

There is a significant gap in our provision which came to light in the run-up to the IP ballot, when it was realized that there were serious problems with the drafting at key points relating to the selling of people's rights without their express consent. I understand that there were promises that if the new rules were voted through there would be a tidying-up operation later. That cannot be satisfactory. Yet provision for the withdrawal of a ballot once it has been initiated would radically undermine the powers of the Regent House. That is what is proposed in this Report, in the amended Regulations attached to its end. '6. A Grace may be withdrawn by the Vice-Chancellor' [or the Administrative Secretary?] ... '(ii) if voting is requested (Regulation 5(c)) or (iii) if amendment is proposed (Regulation 5(d)), within three weeks after the day of its submission.' The problem with the IP Report (and is that promise going to be fulfilled?) did not come to light until very close to the actual voting and this proposed change would not have helped.

And if we let this go through we shall surely have arrived at a position where the Council (on the recommendation of the administrative officer who will be in charge of all this?) can stop a ballot happening at all. 'If the Council decide to resubmit such a Grace in its original form they shall either (a) call a ballot or (b) publish an explanatory Notice explaining why in their opinion a ballot is not necessary.' The original signatories to the call for a vote call for a ballot again. The Grace is withdrawn once more. Once more the Council resubmit the original Grace explaining why they do not consider a ballot necessary. How many circuits of the ring-a-ring-o'roses is allowed before it all falls down?

Recent experience suggests that getting a particular outcome to a vote involves aspects far more complex than those addressed in this Report. The administration controls the timing. It may be recollected that it is not unknown for an important vote to be timetabled across the Christmas closedown until indignation got it moved into term. The memories of many will reach back into a similar Christmas timetable for one stage of the proposed reforms of senior academic promotions when signatures were almost being collected by reindeer sleigh. And there is the Long Vacation Term Gambit. This is all perfectly legitimate and the rules may be found under the Conduct of Business in Chapter I of the Ordinances. But politically, it is a factor which can be used only by what in Oxford is now called the Senior Management Team.

On electronic voting (21) I have one comment. What is to be done about the curmudgeonly few who refuse to use e-mail and who have resolutely avoided moving into the IT age? We surely cannot have a small number, whose voting preferences will be relatively easily identifiable, having to ask for paper ballot arrangements and we equally surely cannot deny these Luddites the vote?

Voting in the Senate, by contrast, is apparently to remain in the paper age. 'The Council have asked the Administrative Secretary to produce a full scheme for the conduct of such an election, which would cover arrangements for voting, establishing the identity of voters, and their qualification to vote. The possibility of postal voting in the Senate, on application for a ballot paper, is also being considered.' Although of course we all hope the Duke of Edinburgh will continue as Chancellor for many years, his advanced age makes it likely that we shall soon be seeking a new Chancellor. Oxford managed to conduct an election in person when it chose Lord Patten. It may well be a good thing for Cambridge too to hold a real election for its next Chancellor. He may want to be as much an activist as Patten has proved to be.

Dr D. A. GALLETLY:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, it is with something of a sense of dispirited hopelessness that I stand up once again to comment on the recommendations of the Voting Review Committee, as filtered now through the Council, as it is clear to me that still the issues under consideration have been, at best, imperfectly understood. It is to my mind unconscionable that the University seeks to cling so desperately to a voting system for legislative issues (the single winner version of STV) which is so inherently flawed, even over and above such discredited systems as First Past the Post. That (para 1.1) the Council has been misled into believing the Review Committee when they 'concluded that all [voting methods], including STV, had advantages and disadvantages, and that the University should not be advised, at present, to change from STV, either generally or for particular classes of business'1 is particularly depressing. It is true that all voting systems are necessarily flawed; what is not true is that the flaws of single-winner STV and e.g. Condorcet are equal in degree. The Review Committee, and indeed the Council, do not appear to have grasped this point, no matter how many times and in what ever clearer fashions I have stated it. I can only conclude that the University is unwilling to admit that it made a mistake in 1926 when it adopted STV. Might I just mention that admitting one's flaws, and indeed perhaps admitting that one does not even know what the correct answer might be, is a sign not of inherent weakness, but of strength?

But I have stated my reservations on numerous previous occasions;2,3,4,5 others have supported me; and still no account is taken of our research and superior expertise in these areas. I do not see what more I can do. I cannot see how the evidence of the hypothetical, but all too realistic, example of the failure of the single-winner version of STV which I described in my speech in Discussion on 11 March 20036 can be brushed aside so easily - not to mention the fiascos to which I have previously drawn attention of the early 1990s7 and of Graces 5 and 6 of the Governance ballots.8

Indeed, given such wanton disregard for real problems, coupled with the failure to accept the unpaid assistance of willing and concerned volunteers in investigating these likely miscarriages of justice, I rather feel that the 'council of the wicked layeth siege against me,'9 and that the more that I try to plead my case the more 'mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him: for if I be cast down, they that trouble me will rejoice at it.'10 I rather feel that the psalmists could have found considerable further inspiration had they had to deal with the immovable obstacle that is the administration of this University; human nature is, however, ever as it was, and no doubt they had to deal with similarly intransigent bodies.

Much as I realize that I have more hope of witnessing porcine aviation, I would still dare to wish that, even at this eleventh hour, the Council might see fit to re-consider these matters, and realize how many past, present, and no doubt future, controversies could be avoided by adopting a less discredited voting system. However, the cynical disregard for expert opinions is not the only thing wrong with this Report.

Of the proposed new regulations, Regulation 6 is perhaps the most disturbing, although some of this may merely be due to the complete lack of clarity of the phrasing. If voting is requested, or amendments are proposed, the Vice-Chancellor is now to be permitted simply to withdraw the Grace, and then resubmit it later without necessarily needing to respect the wishes of the Regent House and hold a Ballot. Another round of collecting 25 signatures would then be required merely to request a Ballot again. And who could have any confidence that the Grace would not just do another vanishing act, repeated ad infinitum.

The other regulation which does not appear adequately to express the intentions of the Council as stated in paragraph 1.2 ('The Council hope that the proposals which they make later in this Report will mean that STV voting is less frequently necessary than at present in voting on policy and legislative matters and that more matters will be submitted for voting on a yes-no basis') is Regulation 9. I presume, after re-reading it several times, that this is actually a return to the 'straw poll' idea of the days of the Wass Syndicate, where STV voting is used to determine which of the alternatives is preferred, and then a ballot is taken to confirm that result. But does it have to be worded so tortuously if so? And if I have failed to deduce what was actually meant, that in itself is evidence that the wording is poor.

Furthermore, it is unclear whether the straw poll is itself to be conducted according to Regulation 13, or indeed that it is to be a ballot of the Regent House at all, rather than of the Council or some other body. Precision is necessary; we have seen far too many messes in recent years due to sloppy and imprecise wording.

1 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2005-06/weekly/6018/21.html.

2 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2002-03/weekly/5912/13.html.

3 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2002-03/weekly/5919/24.html.

4 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2002-03/weekly/5927/15.html.

5 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2004-05/weekly/5976/14.html.

6 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2002-03/weekly/5919/24.html.

7 Reporter, 1991-92, p. 438.

8 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2002-03/weekly/5912/11.html.

9 Psalm 22, v.16, The Book of Common Prayer, Oxford University Press.

10 Psalm 13, v.4, The Book of Common Prayer, Oxford University Press.

Mr D. J. GOODE:

Mr Deputy-Vice-Chancellor, I speak as Vice-president of the Cambridge Association of University Teachers (Cambridge AUT).

The Executive Committee of Cambridge AUT broadly welcomes this Report, not least of all the desire to simplify voting in complex ballots.

However, we must take issue with one aspect of the Report: not something the Report says, but something it does not say.

Last year, fundamental changes were proposed by Graces to adopt a single pay spine for all staff.1 The Recommendations these Graces proposed have changed the way staff are paid in this University for the foreseeable future, and it would be difficult to underestimate their importance to and impact on all staff, not just those whose conditions are bound in one way or another by Statutes and Ordinances.

The importance of these Graces was felt no more keenly than by those on whom they would take effect and who, by virtue of their membership of the Regent House, were in a position to influence the impending change.

There was a real feeling in the University that not only should various amendments be made and a ballot called, but that it was unacceptable to have these Graces submitted out of term, when many members of the Regent House are not in Cambridge.

Statutes and Ordinances are clear about when term begins and ends,2 and these Graces were submitted to the Regent House on 27 July 2005, more than a month after the end of Easter Term, also known as more than a month into the Long Vacation.

Had there been no amendments and no ballot, the Graces would have been deemed to have been approved by the Regent House at 4 p.m. on the Friday next but one after the day of their submission.3 In other words, they would have been deemed to have been approved on Friday, 5 August 2005.

To those of a generous and charitable disposition, waiting until members of the Regent House were a month or so into the Long Vacation before submitting important and controversial Graces could have been interpreted as an error of judgment.

To those of a less generous and charitable disposition, it could have been interpreted as a deliberate ploy to sneak fundamental change through the back door of a relaxed and gently tanning Regent House, taking it easy after yet another over-worked and underpaid year.

In the event, there was huge demand for amendments from the Regent House and a ballot was called,4 and scheduled for November 2005,5 during the Michaelmas Term.

In order to ensure that Graces other than Supplicats for degrees are not submitted during vacations again, we should like to see Council amend the first sentence of Regulation 1 of Graces and Congregations of the Regent House to say something along the lines of:

No Grace shall be submitted to the Regent House except with the authorization of the Council, and only during a term as defined by Ordinance except in the case of a Supplicat for a degree.

In this case, the definition of a 'term' needs to be sharpened up. Regulation 3 of Graces and Congregations of the Regent House currently says:

For the purpose of these regulations the expression 'term' shall be deemed to include that part of the Long Vacation during which it is provided by Ordinance that courses of instruction may be given within the Precincts of the University.6

This available 'part of the Long Vacation' is loosely defined elsewhere:

A course of instruction given during the Long Vacation shall not occupy more than four weeks. Except with the approval of Council on the recommendation of the General Board, no such course given within the Precincts of the University shall begin earlier than the second Monday after General Admission or end later than the sixth Saturday after the Saturday of General Admission.7

We should like to see Regulation 3 of Graces and Congregations of the Regent House8 amended to ensure that it applies only to the 'eighty days of term' calculation for a postponement by the Vice-Chancellor of a ballot in Regulation 13 of Graces and Congregations of the Regent House,9 and not as a four-week 'window of opportunity' to permit Graces to be submitted or ballots scheduled during the Long Vacation.

Concerning ballots, we should like to see Regulations 7 and 8 of Graces and Congregations of the Regent House suitably amended to ensure that ballots, like Graces, may only be scheduled for the same periods.

These amendments would, we believe, lead to fairness and transparency by restricting the submission of Graces and scheduling of ballots to times when members of the Regent House will ordinarily be resident in Cambridge, and we urge Council to give consideration to these comments.

1 Graces 1-9 of 27 July 2005.

2 Statutes and Ordinances, pp. 14, 178.

3 As per Statutes and Ordinances, p. 110.

4 Reporter, 10 August 2005, p. 1048.

5 Reporter, 19 October 2005, p. 59.

6 Statutes and Ordinances, p. 109.

7 Statutes and Ordinances, p. 179.

8 Statutes and Ordinances, p. 109.

9 Statutes and Ordinances, p. 110.

Dr J. S. MYERS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, after a lapse of more than a year, the Council have published a Report claiming to respond to my maiden speech in Discussion.1 Unfortunately mainly minor points have been addressed, while the major issues raised by myself and other speakers have been ignored, dismissed, or misinterpreted. This does not bode well for the responses to other Discussions awaiting a response for much longer than a year.

I should like to thank the Council for acknowledging2 my point regarding the List of Members and the Register of the Senate. I hope that the unaddressed part of that point, regarding the unfulfilled undertaking of the Statutes and Ordinances Revision Syndicate inherited by the Council, will be properly addressed by a separate Grace to fulfil the undertaking. I note the recent acknowledgement3 that duties in this regard have been 'neglected by all Registraries', and hope that the scheme under preparation will start the proper remedy of past neglect. While arrangements for voting in the Senate are under review and postal voting is being considered, perhaps it might also be considered whether to seek the repeal of section 32 of the Cambridge University Act 1856,4 concerning proxy voting, and the accompanying Schedule, as being no longer of current relevance (and not in any case required if proxy voting is to be instituted)?

There is, however, little else for which to thank the Council in this Report. I shall not waste the time of listeners and readers by rereading my previous speech, or my submission to the Review Committee, verbatim, although little enough in there has been rendered obsolete by the Reports so far. I shall, however, note the following points I have previously made, which remain unaddressed or inadequately addressed.

  1. The choice of voting system should be informed by selecting desired properties of voting systems and discarding some until a consistent set remain, with due publication of the criteria considered and discarded and the rationale, rather than by bland statements about advantages and disadvantages.
  2. Real data, from real ballots of the Regent House, should be studied to inform the choice of criteria and a voting system or systems.
  3. The statement on ballot papers (Regulation 4 of the Single Transferable Vote Regulations5) that 'Under no circumstances can a later preference count against an earlier preference' is misleading in light of the properties of STV and should be removed.
  4. The notion of 'immaterial' amendments, remaining in the proposed regulations, is insulting to the Regents proposing an amendment dismissed in such a way, and should be removed.
  5. Submitters of amendments should be consulted on how they are presented for ballot.
  6. Where there are multiple non-conflicting amendments, the draft ballot paper or papers should be published in advance of the vote for comment.
  7. All ballot materials provided to voters should be published afterwards, including the layout of ballot papers and the personal statements made by candidates for election to the Council.

One group of points made in Discussion must however be the subject of further comment, so far have the Council failed to grasp the point or deliberately ignored it. These concern the position of the Vice-Chancellor or Deputy in exercising a discretion about the presentation of matters for voting.

The Council6 have represented deputing such matters under Statute D, III, 7 as desirable. Mr Skittrall pointed out7 this such deputing could be undesirable. A ballot must not only be conducted fairly, it must been seen to be conducted fairly.

No one involved in the origination of proposals going to ballot, or in the origination of amendments to those proposals or calls for non placet of those proposals, or in fly-sheets on those proposals, or in campaigning in any way for any result in the ballot, can be seen as a suitably impartial person to conduct the ballot or arrange its presentation, although such people can and should be observers to see that the count is conducted and ballot papers are processed correctly.

Neither the Vice-Chancellor, nor the Administrative Secretary, nor anyone from the Old Schools or the Council should be in the position to exercise a discretion regarding the arrangement of matters for ballot, nor should they be put in the position of needing to choose between their duty to the Regent House to reject such a position and any other obligation they may feel regarding involvement in origination of the proposals going to ballot.

Freedom to choose a suitable or unsuitable Deputy (such Deputy's name not then being published) should not be given to the Vice-Chancellor in this regard. The Proctors serve as impartial elected representatives of the Regent House, and I repeat my position and that of other speakers that all discretion regarding ballots should be passed to them, or be required to be exercised only with their unanimous approval.

Finally, in the light of recent votes I must raise issues concerning campaigning in connection with ballots of the Regent House and the publication of results of those ballots. Fly-sheets and associated documents have been circulated by the central administration to e-mail lists of Heads of Departments and departmental administrators with requests to circulate them onwards. Requests for other fly-sheets to be circulated in the same way have been declined.8 There have also been claims reported9 of 'unfair canvassing of the electorate using bookmarks delivered to pigeon holes' made by the administration, seemingly happy to campaign on their own terms but not for other Regents to do so.

In some cases, the central administration have acted in breach of the IT Syndicate guidelines on use of bulk e-mail in Cambridge10 in sending messages which are not 'wholly in plain text ... short, perhaps a page at most'. We may recall that when the administration promulgated their own guidelines on e-mail use, discussed as a Topic of Concern on 10 July 2001,11 those guidelines were longer than a page and distributed other than as plain text, thereby breaching the IT Syndicate guidelines in their distribution. Perhaps the administration need reminding of the IT Syndicate guidelines?

More generally, officially sending out notices representing one point of view while not permitting proponents of other points of view to use the same medium to distribute their notices is not proper behaviour in a democracy. An official University or departmental list may prohibit all political messages, with proper disciplinary action against any administrator ignoring that prohibition. It may permit such messages, as long as all Regents, or at least all those associated with the relevant Department, may give their views equally to those of the administration. A group of like-minded people may form an unofficial list with whatever rules they please. But if a list exists officially in the University or a Department, and most or all people in a grouping such as Heads of Departments or members of a given Department are expected or required to be on the list or are placed on it by default, no special position should be given to official views on the subject of any ballot when it comes to distribution of messages on that list.

The publication of results of ballots is a fundamental aspect of the conduct of those ballots. Statements regarding the result of the ballot on Grace 1 of 5 October 2005 were reportedly12 issued in a press release at 09.34 on 13 December 2005. No notice of the result was posted outside the Senate-House until some time between 10.25 and 13.25 that day; results were not released to Council until 11.30.13 Regulation 15 for Graces and Congregations of the Regent House14 states that 'The result of a ballot shall be announced by means of a Notice posted outside the Senate-House and subsequently published'; announcement by press release before announcement to the University on the Senate-House notice-board is at the very least improper conduct for any officer of the University; the Registrary should apologize to the University for this press release and the Ordinances should be amended to make it clear that the first release of ballot results must be on the Senate-House notice-board or in the Reporter and that any earlier release to the press shall be misconduct.

The problems with the publication of the results of the ballot on that Grace do not, however, stop with the publication outside the Senate-House. A statement of results of that ballot15 was published in the Reporter on 14 December. That statement was at variance with that published outside the Senate-House. The Reporter for 14 December was then withdrawn (having been distributed to central Departments but not to those further out) and a new edition produced, containing a statement of results16 agreeing with that outside the Senate-House. No explanation or apology was provided with the new edition. I am grateful to Professor A. W. F. Edwards for making sure that the Library is aware of the two editions and that it makes arrangements for their preservation, in accordance with established policy for withdrawn publications.17

Holding ballots is useless if we cannot rely on honest publication of their results. If an error is made, a proper correction should be published rather than trying to unpublish the error; the Annual Reports issue of the Reporter could have been used to publish the correction. What precedent might the Registrary be applying to withdraw an issue of the Reporter and reissue it as if the old edition had never existed?

The normal modern practice for corrections in the Reporter has been to publish errata. When there were problems with the publication of responses to the recent consultation on Governance, the relevant issue or pages of the Reporter were not withdrawn and reissued; corrected pages were instead printed in the ordinary sequence.18 The only prior instances I have been able to find of whole issues of the Reporter being reissued without explanation are from 1876-77,19 where if any cover note was issued to explain what had changed and why, that cover note was not bound in the Reading Room, Tower 4 or Cam Collection sets of the Reporter (although the Tower 4 set bears a manuscript note regarding the change to issue 196). I have found other cases, none more recent than 1918-19, of pages making up parts of issues of the Reporter being reissued, with or without available explanatory notes or with cover notes stating the replacement but not the reasons.20

If the Registrary was not applying local precedent in withdrawing the Reporter to change the reported result of a ballot, perhaps some external precedent was being applied. Would he have had in mind Gösta Mittag-Leffler's recall and destruction of an issue of Acta Mathematica containing an erroneous paper potentially embarrassing to King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway?21 Would he rather have been following President Nixon's objections to quotes in early editions of the Chicago Sun-Times for 17 September 1970, leading to the removal of those quotes from later editions and to their disappearance from the historical record along with the early editions?22 Or perhaps the precedent really being followed is that of Orwell's Ministry of Truth.23

1 Reporter, 2004-05, pp. 138-9.

2 Report, section 2.6.

3 Historical Register Supplement, 1991-2000, p. xix.

4 19 & 20 Vict. c. 88.

5 Statutes and Ordinances, 2005, p. 119.

6 Report, section 2.4.

7 Reporter, 2004-05, p. 140.

8 Stephen Cowley, 'Re: Signature-collecting', 31 October 2005, article 4107 in ucam.change.governance.

9 Mike Clark, 'Re: IP', 1 December 2005, article 4163 in ucam.change.governance.

10 Information Technology Syndicate, Guidelines on Use of Bulk Email in Cambridge, http://www.cam.ac.uk/cs/itsyndicate/bulkemail.html.

11 Reporter, 2000-01, pp. 971-7.

12 Ross Anderson, 'Result of IP ballot', 13 December 2005, article 4181 in ucam.change.governance.

13 Mike Clark, 'IPR Ballot result', 13 December 2005, http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/pipermail/ccf/2005-December/000570.html.

14 Statutes and Ordinances, 2005, p. 111.

15 Reporter, 14 December 2005, first edition, p. 236; http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/ip-snafu.html.

16 Reporter, 14 December 2005, second edition, p. 236.

17 Collection Development Policy, November 2005, section 3.8, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collectiondevelopmentpolicy.htm.

18 Reporter, 2002-03, pp. 9-14.

19 Reporter, 1876-77, pp. 165-72 (issue 179, 14 December 1876, both editions); pp. 373-380 (issue 196, 17 April 1877, both editions.

20 Reporter, 1876-77, pp. 93-4, and pp. 111-12, both editions and explanatory sheet; 1877-78, pp. 535-36, and pp. 545-46, both editions; 1887-88, pp. 429-30, and pp. 447-48, both editions and explanatory note; 1888-89, pp. 421-22, and pp. 431-32, both editions and explanatory note; 1889-90, pp. 469-70, pp. 491-92, pp. 849-52, and pp. 873-76, both editions; 1897-98, pp. 997-98, and pp. 1023-24, both editions; 1906-07, pp. 1139-40 and pp. 1165-66, both editions and cover note; 1918-19, pp. 129-36 and pp. 149-56, both editions and explanatory note; 1918-19, University Accounts issue, pp. 107-10, both editions and cover note.

21 Ivars Peterson, Newton's Clock: Chaos in the Solar System, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1993, chapter 7.

22 Nicholson Baker, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Random House, New York, 2001, p. 51.

23 George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Secker and Warburg, London, 1949.

Mr J. P. SKITTRALL:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I shall begin by welcoming the existence of this Report on voting arrangements, although I shall have rather more to say about its content later. There are a good few examples of voting in the University that has progressed in an unexpected way, and improving confidence in the decision-making process is something that I welcome. It is also notable that none of the speakers at the last Discussion on this matter was completely in favour of the status quo.

On 11 October last year, Professor Edwards perspicaciously opined on the matter of governance that 'the right way forward is first to persuade the so-called conservatives that change is needed (which is not difficult if you have a good case, because they are not stupid), and then to get them to oversee the changes because they are the only people who understand enough to do it properly'.1 To me, these Reports on voting give a tantalizing view of what could be achieved if his words were taken to heart. I have already remarked that there seems at least to be consensus that voting arrangements can be improved - the 'so-called conservatives' agreed that change is needed. They were even consulted on how to go about effecting a useful change. Unfortunately, the Review Committee then reverted to the form seen more than once in the administration before, and what we have instead is the constitutional equivalent of a Poldovian trying to sell me a Mars bar for twenty pounds sterling because he thinks I shall not notice the rip off in a foreign currency.

There is much contained within this Report with which I take issue, and it is difficult to know where to start, or whether my attempts at timeliness will result in the omission of something important. It occurs to me that I should quickly put on record my view that the proposals to change the regulations are such that essentially all of my last speech on this matter2 remains valid. I shall not bore people by reading it again.

I am concerned that the content of the Report seems to suggest that there are still people involved in the consideration of voting arrangements who believe that it is necessarily possible to come up with a system that will avoid ambiguity in a given case. The whole point of Arrow's Impossibility Theorem is that this is just not true. Giving power to the Vice-Chancellor to decide what happens in a particular case does not solve the problem: it merely moves it somewhere else. I encourage those who are still not convinced of this to read the first chapter of Saari's Decisions and Elections: Explaining the Unexpected. I particularly note his semi-joke that 'For a price, I will come to your organization to design your election procedure. You tell me who you want to win. After talking with the members of your organization to ascertain their preferences, I will construct a 'democratic voting procedure' which will ensure the victory of your candidate.' He goes on to illustrate with an example of how it is possible to ask the questions in such a way that a candidate can be rigged to win despite everybody preferring somebody else to that candidate.

This sort of thing is not just a curiosity that will never occur. Another good read for the layman, Archimedes' Revenge by Paul Hoffman, quotes an example analysed by William Riker, where in the United States legislature a bill failed following an amendment, where if the amendment had not been introduced the bill would likely have passed. In anticipation of an Old Schools claim that the circumstances in Cambridge are entirely different, I challenge the Council to allow the analysis of papers from real Cambridge ballots. If they are worried about people objecting to this use of used anonymous papers, they should put forward a Grace to test the opinion of the Regent House on the matter.

Returning to the proposal to give the Vice-Chancellor powers to decide how questions are presented to the Regent House, I am sure that whoever is drafting the Council's response to the remarks made in this Discussion will by the time of reading this far in the transcript of my remarks be thinking about writing something along the lines of how the personal integrity of the Vice-Chancellor means that there would never be a problem of the type I am suggesting. I regret that it seems necessary to make this observation, but I shall observe that a conflict of interests cannot be resolved by personal integrity. A man cannot serve two masters, no matter how good a man he is. The Vice-Chancellor is simply too close to the administration, and in particular to the Council, to be able to make such decisions purely in service of the Regent House. This is precisely the reason also why the Vice-Chancellor should not be the presiding officer for such ballots. The argument applies just as well to the Administrative Secretary. The Proctors are elected as the servants of the Regent House, and are therefore the correct people to serve the Regent House in such matters.

The only way to ensure that the manner in which proposals are presented to the Regent House is both as clear as possible and as fair as possible is to legislate before the event to that effect. Giving somebody power to change the rules at the last minute is neither clear nor fair. I should note that the Council attempt to justify their bland claim that '[no] dangers attach to such provision, and indeed … that significant advantage would arise if such arrangements were in place' by claiming that 'Statute A, VIII, 8 already envisages that such authority can be given to the Vice-Chancellor.' Statute A, VIII, 8 says 'In respect of Graces and amendments of Graces initiated under section 7 [this is the section that allows fifty-member Graces and the submission of amendments], the Vice-Chancellor shall have the power to rule inadmissible any Grace or amendment which directly concerns a particular person, and shall have such further powers as may be specified by Ordinance.' The Report seems correct therefore in claiming that the Statutes would not prohibit the proposed legislation; however, the implication that the Statutes expect or justify such legislation is such a good example of subtle spin that I suggest that whoever drafted it considers his talents wasted here and instead applies this evening for a post working for a Government minister.

Further, my objection to last-minute legislation extends to the suggestion that because the rules for voting are enshrined in Ordinance rather than in Statute, 'if at some future time it seemed desirable, change could relatively quickly be made'. I do not disagree with this phrase solely because the rate of progress of the current debate makes a mockery of it: it is worrying that anybody should consider that such a fundamental part of the University's constitution as a central part of the decision-making process should be changed at short notice to avoid some unspecified inconvenience. (Incidentally, I consider the sentence elsewhere in the Report 'This is a constitutional matter rather than one related to the voting system as such' to be meaningless sophistry: one cannot separate consideration of voting from consideration of a sizeable part of the University's constitution.) If the Council truly consider that a defining characteristic of an Ordinance is that it is acceptable for the content to be changed at short notice, then I believe they should propose enshrining the procedures in Statute. Moreover, the phrase about future change could be read as a suggestion that, because it could be considered at another time, the Council need not consider a rather central aspect of voting arrangements in a Report on voting arrangements.

Given what I have said, those present may be forgiven for wondering how I do wish this matter to proceed. I regret that I am going to repeat my call for the voting system to be considered in the context of a statement of Arrow's Theorem, and a voting system selected on the basis of deciding which premise or premises of the theorem we should be most content to see dropped.

The fundamental importance of the voting system being used in the decision-making process is such that no consideration of voting arrangements can be complete without a rigorous consideration of voting systems. Whilst I note that the Review Committee did consider alternative voting systems, it is not clear how this consideration was effected, and given that a major problem we are facing is that any non-trivial decision-making mechanism can lead to anomalous results, my concern about the manner of the consideration undertaken should be understandable.

I believe it may also be worth reconsidering the practical arrangements for the enfranchisement of the Regent House. The current balloting system seems to be gaining a reputation as a 'nuclear option', because of the amount of delay and disruption caused by a ballot. Indeed, in the recent case of pay and grading the sole reason the Council gave for not using their powers to call a ballot was the existence of 'significant practical disadvantages' and 'uncertainty' because of the intended timescale of moving to a new system.3

Arguments about whether matters should be presented to the Regent House at the eleventh hour aside, it seems that if a faster workable alternative could be instituted, this could be of benefit both to those who do not want proposals that will eventually be approved to be delayed, and to those who would like to see a lower threshold of uncertainty on a matter at which it became reasonable to test the opinion of the Regent House. It seems to me that a system of Regents voting in person on a given day, perhaps with the ability to appoint a proxy, may be one that should be given consideration.

It would at least remove the need to distribute ballot papers and fly-sheets around the University, with the concomitant time delay and administrative burden, if everybody were to vote in one place.

Following on from this is the question of voting in the Senate. If postal voting in the Senate is to be considered, then I believe the issues of establishing voter identity and of establishing entitlement to vote become more complicated. I suspect one of the reasons that the list of members of the Senate is not fully up to date is that such a list is extremely difficult to maintain (although this is not to say that I should not find an effort to improve the current situation gratifying). I can see that voting in person at least makes it easier to deal with cases arising out of an imperfect list of voters. Perhaps a possibility that may be worth exploring is that of allowing members of the Senate a postal vote on a per-ballot basis, subject to confirmation of entitlement to vote and of address.

I have one comment that I should like to make regarding electronic voting, and that is to observe that the question occurs to me of whether the Proctors would necessarily have sufficient technical expertise to be able to scrutinize adequately on behalf of the Regent House a vote conducted electronically.

Finally, I wish to address the question of the Vice-Chancellor's ability to withdraw a Grace submitted to the Regent House. I fail to see any reason for the Vice-Chancellor to be able to withdraw a Grace except that there is something so substantially wrong with the Grace that continuing the process of its submission to the Regent House is patently ludicrous. In particular, I am saying that once the Council has decided to submit to the Regent House a particular course of action reflecting its view on a matter, it cannot officially (at least) change its view until this part of the process of consideration by the Regent House is complete, so that there is no reason to allow the Vice-Chancellor to withdraw a Grace particularly because a ballot has been requested or an amendment proposed. (Indeed, it may be inferred from this statement that I am uncomfortable with the Council being able to propose amendments to its own Graces when they go to ballot.) Further, the restriction on the Vice-Chancellor being able to withdraw a Grace once a ballot has been requested is a constitutional necessity to prevent the obvious abuse of the system of withdrawing a Grace on which a ballot has been requested with the intention of resubmitting the Grace in the same form in order to avoid a ballot. I am sure I am now risking the usual 'only the paranoid would envisage the commission of that abuse of the system' response from the Council, but my point is that the only way to avoid any possibility of impropriety in this matter is to leave things as they are. I cannot really comment on the minutiae of the practicalities of this proposal, because there seems to be some ambiguity in the wording: I wonder whether the first 'and' in the amended section is supposed to read 'or', and I wonder to what clause the last clause (beginning 'within') is supposed to apply?

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in conclusion I support the continued consideration of voting arrangements, but believe there is much more consideration and review necessary.

1 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 85.

2 Reporter, 2004-05, p. 140.

3 Reporter, 2004-05 pp. 1002-03.

Report of the General Board, dated 11 January 2006, on the establishment of a His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Professorship of Modern Arabic Studies (p. 331).

Dr J. E. MONTGOMERY:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I address you this afternoon in two capacities: in my capacity as Chairman of the Faculty Board of Oriental Studies and in my capacity as University Reader in Classical Arabic.

The Faculty of Oriental Studies is at present taking stock of its not inconsiderable achievements over the last decades and planning for future decades. It has set itself a most demanding and challenging agenda that involves not only extensive educational issues, such as Tripos reform, but also matters of governance, such as departmentalization, and intellectual and academical prospects, such as how best and most effectively, in a University like ours, to study across the University the languages and the cultures currently offered in the Faculty.

The Faculty has an enviable reputation for the highest standards of scholarship in modern and pre-modern East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. It has sought in its courses and research to capture the unique ways in which the cultures it represents cherish the classical forms of their languages in their contemporary manifestations, and to explore their religious, social, political, and intellectual resonances. In the course of our discussions, it has become apparent that we need to move confidently to advertise this body of expertise in the modern world, in the boldest and clearest ways possible. The magnificent generosity of His Highness Qaboos Bin Said, the Sultan of Oman has made these ambitions for the contemporary Arabic-speaking world realizable. His benefaction could not have been timelier, and it is a refreshing reminder for British society of both Oman's enduring commitment to scholarship and the desire in so many regions of the Arab world to foster partnerships with Cambridge and the United Kingdom. I relish the prospect of welcoming, in due course, the new Sultan Qaboos Professor to my Faculty and to the University.

Yet we should not be unmindful of Cambridge's unparalleled tradition of scholarship in the pre-modern and classical Arab world. We can boast one of the oldest chairs in Arabic in the UK: the Sir Thomas Adams's Professorship dates from 1632. This tradition is what has made the study of Arabic at this University great and the Chair has been held by some of the most significant scholars in the study of Arabic whose legacy remains relevant to this day. That it is temporarily held in abeyance is regrettable. Last week, however, my Faculty Board emphatically renewed its commitment to fund-raising for the re-endowment of the Sir Thomas Adams's Professorship. The study of the Arabic-speaking world, classical and contemporary, at the University of Cambridge, is but half-hearted at best without the filling in due course of both Chairs.

Dr D. R. DE LACEY:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, on 30 September 2002, Professor T. A. S. Khalidi, Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic, resigned; and the seventh oldest chair in the University (founded 1632) was frozen. If 'the subject is now expanding rapidly', and 'The General Board are assured that the Professorship can be expected to attract an excellent field of candidates' (Paragraphs 2, 5) is it not distressing that the money could not have revived this ancient Chair rather than providing its death-knell by the establishment of a new one?

Cambridge rather likes history. We are planning to make much play with it in the next few years. It is at the least distressing that for a few paltry millions we are prepared to jettison another significant chunk of it. However, this appeal for a re-think, like this Discussion, is apparently far too late. According to the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia1 the Chair has already been established in Cambridge.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Professorships_at_the_University_of_Cambridge.

Professor G. R. EVANS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I rise to share Dr de Lacey's regret. 'In 1632 the rich and enlightened City magnate Sir Thomas Adams financed a lecturing post in the University of Cambridge in Arabic.'1 Cambridge was panting along after its elder sister, where the Laudian Chair of Arabic was established and William Laud, then Chancellor, was busy collecting manuscripts for the Bodleian Library, even contriving to arrange that no ship of the Levant Company should be allowed to come into an English port unless it brought at least one. This was the era when it was first realized that oriental languages included more than Hebrew and that the East had its idioms, and its distinctive cultural patterns. Robert Boyle in his Style of the Scriptures, published in 1661, remarked on how 'The Eastern Eloquence differs widely from the Western. In those purer Climates, where Learning, that is here but a Denizon, was a Native.'2

An opportunity lost when Cambridge could have used this welcome gift in order to set up this Professorship in continuity with a past which had priorities which have never been more urgent and important than they are today.

1 Victor Morgan, A History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 2004), Vol. 2, p. 459.

2 Robert Boyle, Style of the Scriptures, Works, ed. Michael Hunter and Edward B. Davis (London, 1999), Vol. II. 381-488, pp. 453.

Report of the General Board, dated 11 January 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Molecular Immunology and a Professorship of Stem Cell Biology (p. 332).

Professor G. R. EVANS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, here are further examples of a practice on which Professor A. W. F. Edwards and I have commented again and again in Discussions. Outside bodies are, in effect, appointing to Professorships in the University of Cambridge.

'Prestigious external competition, for example, Royal Society and Medical Research Council Research Professorships' replaces our promotions process and boards of electors. And once more an open-ended financial commitment is entered into by the University, for these externally selected 'Professors' are on short-term funding, and the Regent House is invited to agree to create offices to be held to the retiring age. 'The Council of the School of the Biological Sciences have agreed to support the takeover of the costs of the appointments on the expiry of such funding.' Just thought I would point these things out. Again. Other short-term-contract scientists may also wish to boo here, for the same undertakings will not be made on their behalf.

Report of the General Board, dated 11 January 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Politics (p. 333).

Professor G. R. EVANS:

Mr. Deputy Vice-Chancellor, 'An appointment to a Professorship of Politics by October 2007 at the latest would greatly strengthen the University's Politics and International Studies submission for the next Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008).' Another RAE-driven appointment (to which must be added the Readership in French proposed in another Report to be discussed today). It is true that the justification set out in this Report begins with the making of an academic case (some curious assertions there). But when the reason for the actual proposal now is the imminence of the RAE, we are entitled to ask whether academic or financial need is the real driver and how all these suddenly urgent new offices have been mapped onto the University's wider needs from a strictly academic point of view. Anyway, couldn't the university the new Professor will come from lay claim to the intellectual property generated in its employ, which Cambridge is hoping to capture with him or her? What is going to happen if it does? For what is the RAE input but the intellectual property of employees? With a cash value?

Second Report of the General Board, dated 11 January 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Management Studies (p. 333).

Professor G. R. EVANS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, 'I. That a Professorship of Management Studies be established in the University from 1 September 2006 for the tenure of Professor Arnoud De Meyer, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Judge Institute of Management.' I notice that the progressive shortening of the title of the institution to which it is proposed this office be assigned has reached new levels of terseness since the General Board's Notice of 15 June, 2005, creating an Ordinance without a Grace under Statute C, to the effect that 'The Judge Institute of Management shall be a Department within the Faculty of Business and Management and shall have the title 'The Judge Business School''. We are not using this new snappy 'title' in establishing this office. I remain puzzled as to what this institution is hereafter to be called, or indeed what the distinction is between its name and its 'title'.

Since this appointment has involved an Advisory Committee, not a Board of Electors, and was made in the first instance as a result of a search for a Director not a Professor, I suppose truncation and elision is the name of the game. The Professor-to-be is going to lead an institution known as 'Judge Business School', without even its definite article.1 Professor De Meyer is quoted in the Cambridge Press Office press release as having said 'Judge Business School has achieved extraordinary success in a very short period of time … with … the strong support of the School's impressive Advisory Board and corporate partners, I relish the opportunity to build on the foundations of its success and lead Judge Business School through the next important phase of its development.' I look forward to future Reports about 'Judge' or 'JBS'. At UCAM Inc?

There is a serious question here, and it is not only about the style and tone, but also about the influence of the public-private partnerships whose presence 'on board' seem to encourage this kind of management speak.

1 http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/.

Report of the General Board, dated 11 January 2006, on the establishment of a Readership in French (p. 334).

No comments were made on this Report.


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Cambridge University Reporter 15 February 2006
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