The Search for our New Vice-Chancellor

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The most common names for a Vice-Chancellor (or equivalent) in the UK are David and John; there are six of each. That isn’t a requirement for the role, but a rather dull fact. There are many less common names but I was disappointed not to find a Nemo as that would have made a good title for the blog - if a rather inauspicious one for a recruitment exercise (that’s a reference for the Latin scholars).

So, what will it take for the University of Bath to be a success in the next ten years? These and many other questions set the context for our search for a new Vice-Chancellor. For a University which has only just celebrated our 50th birthday we have been incredibly successful, and there is no need to repeat those accolades here. That success has been achieved through the contribution of many thousands of people over the life of the University. But we are now in an era when the environment for higher education is changing again – debates over student fees, access to higher education, a new Minister, Brexit and new regulators in the sector will all have an impact in the coming years. So how do we position ourselves to continue to be successful? What skills do we need to achieve that success?

Choosing the right Vice-Chancellor to lead us in this uncertain environment is a big decision for the University. Here are a couple of my observations on the process to date.

The Committee on the Office of Vice-Chancellor hasn’t been needed since 2001. There is only one person on it today who was involved last time and we need to do more to expand the skillset on that Committee and make it more representative of our community.

There are 7.6 billion people in the world, with an estimate that 1.5 billion can speak English (I am going to assume this is a requirement for the job) so that’s quite a large haystack in which to look. We plan to bring a specialist search firm in to help us, and we are currently speaking to a number (think random surnames strung together to create a company name) to find the one best suited to this task.

Wikipedia defines a blog as “consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries”. As the recruitment process progresses, I’ll try to keep you up to date with progress. Very happy for anyone who wishes to email me with observations or questions, but please accept that this is an informal personal view of the process and not a formal management statement! I look forward to some interesting conversations.

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