Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6340

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Vol cxliv No 23

pp. 376–420

Fly-sheets reprinted

The following fly-sheets, etc. are reprinted in accordance with the Council’s Notice on Discussions and Fly-sheets (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 108).

Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology

Placet Flysheet

On the express wishes of the late Dennis Avery, The Avery-Tsui Foundation has generously donated $6m to create and support the Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology. $2m will be used to create an endowment, controlled by the University, which will contribute to the costs of the Hawking Professorship. The remaining $4m will be controlled by a Trust whose objectives are to advance education and promote research in the science of cosmology at the University of Cambridge for the public benefit, and in particular to support the University in securing the best possible candidate as the Hawking Professor. Three Trustees have ex-officio senior roles in the University; the fourth Trustee is Miss Natasha Wong, the daughter of Dennis Avery.

The named Professorship is to be held for seven years, with the possibility of extension. Neither the Trustees nor the Foundation have any role in the selection or extension of the Hawking Professor. Concern has been expressed that the extension arrangement might set a precedent for the introduction of performance review for University officers, but this is misplaced. The Report in paragraph 5 makes clear that the individual would hold the University office of Professor from the outset until the retiring age. Only the title is subject to periodic review.

The Trustees are required to invest the $4m in the Cambridge University Endowment Fund. The Trust Deed Agreement provides for the Trustees annually to make a payment to the Hawking Professor of such an amount (termed the Crown Distribution by the donor) as may be necessary in their judgement to secure or retain the best possible candidate, up to a limit of 2.6% of the balance of the endowment (currently a maximum annual gross amount of £67,000), provided that the University stipend is ‘equal to or greater than the average salary and benefits received by other Professors of similar years of service, or rank who hold appointments in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics’. Any income remaining after this payment to the Professor will be transferred to the Department to be used for the advancement of the subject.

How will the Trustees know what is an appropriate contribution? On appointment, Professors negotiate a remuneration package that reflects the University’s current practices, its perception of the contribution that the individual is likely to make in future years, and the requirements of the individual. Professorial pay is generally independent of the source of funding in order to achieve equality of pay practices, but the Royal Society, for example, sets a minimum salary for its Research Professors that is above the Cambridge minimum; given the acknowledged distinction of such individuals when appointed this does not pose a problem in practice and, of course, Royal Society Research Professors have made and continue to make enormous contributions to the work of the University. The Hawking Professorship will be analogous. The intention and expectation of Dennis Avery and the Avery-Tsui Foundation is that the Hawking Professor will be internationally outstanding. It is therefore axiomatic that on recruitment the Professor will expect to be paid at a higher level than the average. An appropriate market level determined by usual University procedures might well turn out to match the average of the current most senior and distinguished Professors in the School of Physical Sciences. Although the Crown Distribution is determined by the Trustees, it is simply a continuing contribution to the overall salary of the Professor.

Once in post, the Hawking Professor would be eligible to apply for contribution increments in the same way as other Professors. The recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee will then be considered by the Trustees. This proposed mechanism should, therefore, not lead to salary levels for the Hawking Professor that are significantly different from those of colleagues of comparable distinction in Cambridge.

It has been suggested that the mechanism for payment of the Crown Distribution circumvents the University’s salary structure. However, the discretion of the Trustees is constrained by the requirements of charity law to pay only what is reasonably necessary to recruit or retain the Professor. There is therefore no need for additional regulation to ensure this outcome. The route to a decision may be unusual for Cambridge, but the outcome should not be.

Concern was also expressed about the potential financial burden falling on the Department and School arising from the continuing employment costs of any former holders of the Professorship. The Report makes it clear that the School will be able to manage that liability by, if necessary, declining to fill the vacant Professorship.

In short, we believe that this donation will indeed further the science of cosmology in Cambridge and will rightly honour the name of Stephen Hawking. We therefore urge you to vote Placet to this proposal.

P. M. Allmendinger

M. J. Daunton

R. C. Kennicutt

J. M. Rallison

N. Bampos

S. C. Franklin

R. J. Lingwood

J. K. M. Sanders

J. C. Barnes

L. F. Gladden

M. McDonald

A. D. Yates

M. G. Blamire

D. A. Good

D. J. Maskell

S. J. Young

J. L. Caddick

P. H. Haynes

M. A. Parker

S. A. Coakley

A. Hopper

R. W. Prager

Fly-sheet in support of the Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology

1. The proposed Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) presents a unique opportunity for the University. The establishment of this Professorship would mark an important step towards ensuring the continuation of the University’s long and distinguished history in the field of gravitation and cosmology.

2. Research into the fundamental structure of the Universe and the nature of gravity has advanced rapidly with Cambridge mathematicians at the forefront, making key breakthroughs in our understanding of both the Big Bang and Black Holes. Theoretical advances continue to be driven by confrontation with new experiments, such as the Planck satellite and the LIGO gravitational wave observatory, and new scientific questions will emerge as our Universe is mapped and Black Holes are probed at higher resolution. The worldwide reputation of Cambridge in this field is reflected by a constant influx of postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists each year and by the large number of talented students enrolling in our Master’s Degree and PhD programmes. The establishment of the Professorship will offer the opportunity to attract and retain theorists of the highest international standing to lead research in this field.

3. The Professorship will mark in perpetuity the contributions of our colleague Stephen Hawking who throughout his career has made groundbreaking advances which have dramatically improved our understanding of the Universe and Black Holes. Alongside this he has provided a grand vision of the science of the Universe which he has communicated to the wider public more successfully than anyone before him.

4. The benefactors of the proposed Hawking Professorship, the late Dennis Avery together with his wife Sally Wong Avery, have been generous supporters of the University and its colleges. Their previous gifts have included an endowment in 2007 used by Professor Hawking to establish the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within DAMTP. Dennis Avery had a particular vision for a unique professorship that would attract world-leading candidates to Cambridge and ensure the continuation of Professor Hawking’s legacy. In particular, he wanted the Professorship to be named, not after the donors, but after Professor Hawking himself.

5. The Report of the General Board and the statement by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Institutional Affairs in the Discussion, on behalf of the Trustees of the proposed Endowment Trust, are reassuring about the proposed detailed arrangements for the Professorship. The Trustees and University will work together to ensure that the remuneration of the Stephen Hawking Professor will be consistent with that of any other distinguished Professor in the School of Physical Sciences. The School and Department have determined that the resources required to support future Stephen Hawking Professors will be available and affordable.

6. We have considered the implications of the generous benefaction offered by the Avery-Tsui Foundation for the establishment of a Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology and we have concluded that it would be of great benefit to the study of cosmology, gravitation and related areas of theoretical physics in DAMTP and in the wider University. The benefaction offers a timely and strategic opportunity; if we refuse it then the opportunity will have been lost. We support the recommendation of the General Board and urge you to vote Placet.

T. M. Adamo

B. Ehrler

A. Iserles

N. Peake

D. Alexander

D. O. Erdos

C. R. Jones

M. J. Perry

P. Alexander

J. M. Evans

R. Jozsa

J. E. Pinto Da Silva e Conceicao Santos

B. C. Allanach

A. C. Fabian

M. J. Kelly

H. Price

R. G. W. Anderson

P. ffolkes Davis

R. C. Kennicutt

M. R. E. Proctor

R. J. Asher

A. S. Fokas

T. W. Körner

F. Quevedo

P. J. N. Baert

C. French

E. R. S. Kunji

H. S. Reall

J. D. Barrow

M. Ganesalingam

A. N. Lasenby

R. D. E. Saunders

D. D. Baumann

M. B. Gardiner

H. N. Latter

E. P. S. Shellard

N. Berloff

G. W. Gibbons

P. F. Linden

D. Sijacki

C. F. Bonvin

H. Godazgar

O. B. Linton

S. T. C. Siklos

P. M. Brakefield

M. Godazgar

J. J. Lipner

H. Sirringhaus

L. M. Butcher

M. J. Goodrick

R. G. McMahon

D. B. Skinner

J. N. Butterfield

M. B. Green

R. Maiolino

U. Sperhake

J. Camps

S. F. Gull

N. S. Manton

D. R. Spring

A. D. Challinor

M. G. O. Haehnelt

P. A. Markowich

A. Street

D. Chu

P. H. Haynes

S. W. Moore

C. E. Thomas

P. J. Clarkson

A. Hennegan

A. J. Murray

D. Tong

T. M. Crane

E. J. Hinch

T. C. O’Connell

P. K. Townsend

M. Dafermos

J. C. Hill

P. J. O’Donnell

A. Turchyn

A. C. Davis

M. P. Hobson

J. A. O’Sullivan

R. Venkataramanan

N. Dorey

R. D. Holder

G. I. Ogilvie

R. R. Weber

M. Dörrzapf

J. Holstein

J. C. Ottem

M. B. Wingate

M. Dunajski

R. R. Horgan

J. C. B. Papaloizou

S. A. Wotton

G. P. Efstathiou

P. Hutchinson

G. P. Paternain

Flysheet on Grace 1 of 22 January 2014: Equal Pay

The establishment of a Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology

Over the last decade, the University has established procedures to ensure compliance with the Equal Pay Act (1970) and its successor, the Equality Act (2010).

When market supplements were introduced in January 2006, the University was assured that

"the need for, and the level of, such market supplements must be evidence based";

"it is fundamental … [that] there should be greater transparency of criteria, processes, and outcomes in the arrangements for pay and grading so that they are seen to be open and fair";

there would be "equal pay audits (relating, for example, to factors such as gender and ethnicity)".

In May 2013 the University approved amendments to the market supplement scheme, inter alia, because of concerns with the Review Process, and in particular because "it can be difficult for departments to provide market data and evidence as part of the review process to support the continuation of a market supplement, especially for academic posts".

Because of these "difficulties experienced in trying to define the ‘market’ in relation to academic posts", Advanced Contribution Supplements (ACS) were introduced for academic staff as the primary means of supplementing the salary for retention or recruitment purposes. Although the possibility of awarding market pay was left open, the University agreed "an ACS should be regarded as the primary means of supplementing the income of academic staff for recruitment or retention purposes".

Not everything was changed. It remains "essential that the application of market pay is justifiable by reference to objective evidence", and there is still the need to consider

equal pay considerations (including whether there is an implication for specific individuals or groups of staff), and

whether action in particular cases will create a knock-on effect for other roles (so that more problems are caused than are solved);

The "Crown Distribution" is not an ACS (although the Hawking Professor will be entitled to apply for one); as currently conceived, it is market pay. Over the last year there is no evidence that it has become easier to obtain market data for academic posts, and the payment mechanism is far from transparent. Indeed, the best/only description of the latter is in the (draft) Council Minutes of 20 January 2014:

"The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Institutional Affairs) reported that the comparison would not be with colleagues internationally; rather it would be based on internal benchmarking and, in particular, the market level would be identified by comparison with the average of the salaries of the most senior established chairs in the School of the Physical Sciences".

Such an internal comparison is likely to have knock-on effects, although it may turn out to be impossible since the Hawking Professor would be under no obligation to inform the Trust of his or her salary (and Legal Services have indicated that "it would not be proper to obligate the Professor to consent to the transfer of such data as a condition of his or her employment"). Without such knowledge how can the Trustees determine the "Crown Distribution"? Further, there is no obligation for the Trustees to inform the University of the "Crown Distribution", so generating a question mark over any University equal pay audit. Indeed the split payment means that the full salary of the Hawking Professor will not be visible in the University’s annual equal-pay monitoring statistics.

On equal pay grounds, these proposals befit neither the University, nor the person the Chair is honouring.

A. B. S. Abulafia

S. Efstathiou

N. J. Holmes

A. I. Pesci

R. J. Barnes

S. J. Eglen

A. Honerkamp-Smith

C. L. Phillips

R. J. Bowring

S. K. L. Ellington

A. P. Kelly

D. R. Pratt

D. J. Chivers

D. J. Feldman

J. S. L. McCombie

O. Rath

M. R. Clark

C. E. Fenton-Glynn

I. J. Maddison

A. A. Vinnicombe

W. J. Clegg

J. R. Gog

P. C. Millett

S. J. Cowley

R. E. Goldstein

S. M. Oosthuizen

P. A. W. Edwards

D. J. Goode

R. Padman

Flysheet on Grace 1 of 22 January 2014

Establishment of a Stephen W. Hawking Professorship of Cosmology

We believe that the proposed professorship is so wrongly structured that it is not a proper permanent tribute to Professor Hawking, whose scientific and popular identities are so closely intertwined with that of Cambridge itself, and that, moreover, accepting this donation will set a host of dangerous precedents. The criticisms below should not be interpreted in any way as criticisms of Professor Hawking or the Avery family.

There are six problematic aspects of the proposed professorship.

1) Circumvention of the university-wide salary structures and threat to meritocracy. It is clear that the deed was structured to circumvent the salary structures of the university in order to guarantee an outsized payment to the chair-holder. The guidance notes point out equal pay issues that would be raised by channeling the extra payment through the university, and suggest that these would somehow be avoided if the extra payment is given directly to the chair-holder, as if the ethical issues would disappear. The assertion in the Report that the Trustees will take account of the conventions for salary and pay in the University has no legal status, because the only binding document is the deed, as stated in the deed itself. Paragraph 9 of the deed asserts that the department must certify each year to the trustees that the base salary of the Hawking professor is at least the average of other professors in the department (including contribution points and market supplements). It is clearly unfair to tie one professor’s salary to that of others. This is a direct threat to meritocracy.

2) A precedent along the path towards post-tenure review. The reviews after 7 and 12 years in the chair would constitute the only example of a post-tenure review of professors in this University (putting aside positions such as Royal Society Research Professors, whose tenure in that position is decided by an external institution). For a person of such alleged high international standing to be the only professor in the university subject to such humiliating judgement is unacceptable. This precedent for post-tenure review might well be an opening to post-tenure review of all chair-holders, or perhaps everyone. We urge colleagues in the University to contemplate the implications of allowing this to be approved.

3) Precedent for future donors. Agreeing to the proposed arrangements for this chair opens the door to giving donors unprecedented ability to ignore existing rules in the university and to seek their own special arrangements.

4) Reputational risk. There have been two recent strike actions taken to demand across the board salary increases for staff in the university. We risk further reputational damage if we agree to ignore the existing rules of the university to enrich someone at the top of the academic ladder when the vast majority of others have not had a decent pay rise in years.

5) Burden on the school. Because of the structure of the donation, to be able to afford this position a lectureship will have to be suppressed, and personal chairs created for former holders of the professorship, likely with salaries comparable to that of the Hawking Chair for purposes of retention. It is within the realm of possibilities that two or even more former holders would be in DAMTP concurrently, putting a severe drain on finances and fundamentally curtailing freedom to make appointments. The Report notes that this burden will fall on the school. The creation of such positions should not be in the hands of donors unless they pay for it.

6) Determination of the extra payment. The yearly determination of the extra payment made to the holder is a prescription for exploitation, in which the chair-holder will be rewarded for seeking external offers, since the payment is deemed for “retention”.

We must not go down the path of letting the ends justify the means. Accepting this donation in its present form is unnecessary. We would strongly support a chair that follows present regulations on salary pay and tenure procedures. This proposed Chair is in clear violation of both; we therefore urge members of the Regent House to vote Non Placet on Grace 1.

A. B. S. Abulafia

C. E. Fenton-Glynn

I. B. Leader

D. R. Pratt

D. S. H. Abulafia

A. Finch

J. Li

I. G. Roberts

L. Allen

J. L. Gluza

J. S. L. McCombie

L. C. G. Rogers

N. Allington

M. A. Goldie

W. C. McGrew

M. G. Sargeant

M. Amrani

R. E. Goldstein

N. M. Maclaren

W. O. Saxton

Z. H. Barber

D. J. Goode

K. J. McNamara

J. E. Scott-Warren

J. H. Barrett

D. A. Green

I. J. Maddison

B. D. Simons

J. Berni

B. B. Groisman

Stuart Martin

B. Steger

M. D. Bolton

C. A. Haniff

A. Martinez-Arias

J. T. Stock

R. J. Bowring

P. Halson

S. D. Mather

K. M. Stott

J. M. Brook

R. D. Harding

P. C. Millett

Z. A. M. Svendsen

C. J. B. Brookes

M. M. Hines

A. G. Milne

J. H. Swenson-Wright

B. J. Burchell

A. Honerkamp-Smith

Alexandra Morris

M. Tomalin

P. Cicuta

M. Hrebeniak

M. R. Morris

V. Vergiani

M. R. Clark

I. R. James

S. Mukherji

N. M. Vriend

S. J. Cowley

L. J. Jardine-Wright

J. A. Neufeld

A. A. R. Webb

A. J. Crisp

A. J. Kabla

C. J. O’Kane


N. A. Cutler

I. Kazanis

W. O’Neill

H. B. Wydra

L. T. Denault

U. F. Keyser

T. Owens

L. Xu

C. Ducati

A. N. King

M. I. Palacios De Castro

B. Yuan

E. Eiser

K. M. Knowles

Y. Peleg

K. Yunus

S. K. L. Ellington

P. F. Kornicki

A. I. Pesci

P. D. Evans

B. Kushner

C. L. Phillips

D. J. Feldman

M. R. Laven

B. J. Phipps

Statement on behalf of the General Board

The Non Placet flysheets rehearse a number of concerns that were raised in the Discussion of this Report. The following comments were made by the Council in response to the Discussion remarks and are repeated here for the information of the Regent House.

"(a)It was suggested that the mechanism for payment of the Crown Distribution circumvents the University’s salary structure. While this may appear to be the case, the discretion of the Trustees of The Dennis S. Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Endowment Trust is constrained by the requirements of charity law to pay only what is reasonably necessary to recruit or retain the Professor.1 As elaborated in the remarks of Professor Sanders, speaking on behalf of the Trustees, the Trustees have agreed a mechanism for determining the value of the Crown, in the light of relevant information, that should … ‘not lead to salary levels for the Hawking Professor that are significantly different from those of colleagues of comparable distinction’. This should provide substantial assurance to the Regent House that the payment of the Crown will neither give rise to equal pay issues nor concerns about bestowing a private benefit on the individual as suggested in the Discussion.

"(b)Concern was expressed that the arrangement might set an unfortunate precedent for the introduction of performance review for University officers. The Report in paragraph 5 makes clear that, irrespective of the period for which the Professor holds the title of Stephen W. Hawking Professor, the Professor would hold the office of Professor from the outset until the retiring age. Only the grant of the title is subject to a periodic review process provided for in Regulation 5 for the Professorship.

"(c)Concern was also expressed about the potential financial burden falling on the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and the School of the Physical Sciences as a consequence of meeting the employment costs of any former holders of the Professorship who revert to holding a single tenure Professorship for the remainder of their employment. This is considered in paragraph 10(b) of the General Board’s Report, which makes it clear that the School will be able to manage the extent of that liability by, if necessary, declining to fill a vacancy in the Professorship, or indeed any other vacant post.”

This donation provides a superb opportunity to advance the study of cosmology in the University and to honour the name of a remarkable scientist. I urge you to vote Placet.

J. M. Rallison

On behalf of the General Board