Swansea University New Year – Staff Petrified with Fear, Concern and Uncertainty surrounding the University Reputation following Suspension of Key Staff.
There is a growing fear and anxiety amongst staff at Swansea University, since the suspension of the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Richard Davies, and Prof. Marc Clement including two other members of key staff. The unsuspected and swift suspensions were called for by the newly appointed registrar Andrew Rhodes who has served the institution as Chief Operation Officer for just a few months and has caused much anxiety through all levels of University Staff. Sources at the University report that the majority of staff are gagged by fear of speaking out against the oppressive decision not to deal with any issues internally; and the lack of information provided surrounding the suspensions are fuelling unease.
Questions have been raised regarding the process which the University has yet to answer. Members of the academic and professional services community query what information was displayed to the University Council prior to the suspensions taking place? There is growing speculation that the suspensions were enforced on a “guilty before given the opportunity to be proven otherwise innocent” basis which has infuriated staff at the University. The staff feel entitled to know what evidence was brought to the attention of the Chair of the council and to see the before the suspension of the VC and other staff members? It appears to be a kangaroo court.
The question of process also concerns the amount of money spent already on the investigation. The secrecy of the investigation has raised questions as to who is the legal team undertaking the currently ongoing investigation? Rumours heard by sources at the University say that Allen and Overy, a member of the UK’s Magic Circle of leading law firms, is the choice of firm. As a leading law firm, then fees are speculated to be astronomical as London based law firms charge of £750 per hour. Key questions that need answering are:
- Are the lawyers on the Swansea University preferred supplier list?
- How much has been spent so far on this investigation?
- Exactly which cost centre within the University has this money come from?
- How many personnel make up the team leading this investigation?
Another aspect of this investigation is that the suspended individuals do not have access to University Lawyers but have to fund their own defence. This in itself is difficult not just for monetary reasons but that the process is a secretive investigation.
Almost two months has lapsed and there is now concern around the health and well-being of not just those suspended but may other University staff. The feeling is that it is snowballing. This is seen as ironic as the University prides itself on being a community with health and well-being of staff and students and its epi-centre – this is a mantra that the University appears to preach; but not practice in reality when the suspended members of its staff have been subject to public scrutiny and speculation without any context besides rumours and hearsay.
Furthermore, great concern has been expressed on the extent of damage done to the University’s reputation for such a risk averse institution! Or at least that’s how it was up until a few months ago, how could this happen this way? How much has the University lost so far in terms of research income, jobs, etc.
The staff community at Swansea University go into 2019 with no indication of what the new year presents. What we know is that we still have a Vice Chancellor and a Dean of School of Management who have transformed Swansea University to so many heights as a top research and higher education institution unparalleled in its history.
How can Swansea University fight so unfairly to destroy four individuals that have given their life and work to this institution?
Yours with concern
Member of the public.