Oration by the Vice-Chancellor - (3) to No 4375



<br /> Oxford University Gazette: Oration by the Vice-Chancellor<br /> (supplement)

Oxford University Gazette

Oration by the Vice-Chancellor

Supplement (3) to Gazette No. 4375

Monday, 9 October 1995

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In my Oration last year I talked of ends and beginnings—the
successful
conclusion of the Campaign for Oxford, the move into a long-term
development
programme and the beginning of the work of the Commission of Inquiry.
There
are no such major milestones for me to identify this year, but that
does not
mean that the range of activities within the University has not been
proceeding apace, nor indeed that our own process of continuous
assessment and
review of our endeavours has in any way diminished. Indeed, as I
shall
indicate later, the scope of such reviews has been and is
substantial.

I shall start, however, with the Commission of Inquiry. As you
will be
aware, a Framework Document was published early in this calendar year
with the
object of laying before the University and others what we, the
members of the
Commission, perceived to be the main items on our agenda. We invited
comments
on what had been included and on what had been omitted. Over 80
responses were
received, for which the Commission has been most grateful. We have
reflected
on the suggestions made to us and those reflections were embodied in
a notice
in the Gazette on 8 June 1995, which also gave an
indication of how we intend
to proceed over the next twelve months. We propose to publish
consultative
papers on the six or so main areas of the Commission's work by the
end of this
year and during the first part of next year. As many of you will
know, Coopers
and Lybrand have been engaged to act as consultants to the Commission
in
looking at a range of matters concerning the governance of the
University in
its varied facets. They have been talking to a wide range of people
within the
University, in colleges, faculties, departments and the central
administration, and will continue to do so for some time yet. We hope
to have
their report before the end of this year. In the light of that
report, and of
our reflections on it, a consultative paper will be published on the
whole
question of governance of the University, and at about the same time
a similar
paper will consider what might be the future size and shape of the
University.
The purpose of these consultation papers, and of the others which
will follow,
is to enable anyone in the University (and indeed others involved in
British
higher education) who wish to do so to let us have views on the
issues which
have been raised, and on any possible changes which have been
adumbrated. It
is in the light of that consultation that we aim to produce the final
report
of the Commission and its recommendations, ideally by the end of
1996. We
have, however, made it clear that we would be happy to receive
written
comments on any of the matters within the scope of our work at any
time,
whether or not these matters have yet been addressed in a
consultation paper.
The Commission is concerned to ensure that all in the University
have, and
feel that they have, the fullest opportunity to put their views
before the
Commission. We shall look forward to receiving and considering those
views.

One concern that the members of the Commission and others have
had is
that the existence of the Commission might create some form of
`planning
blight' on the other activities of the University, and in particular
on the
speedy review of matters which require investigation without delay. I
think
that the past year indicates that the fears of `planning blight'
have, to a
large extent, not been realised, and indeed the occasion of my
Oration
provides a good opportunity for me to remind you of, and to reflect
upon, some
of the major reviews with which the University has been concerned
over the
last year. The full list is both long and varied and on this occasion
I shall
have to be selective in those to which I refer. The President of
Wolfson
College chaired a Working Party to review the whole range of the
University's
activities in the development of intellectual property. The report of
the
Working Party makes important recommendations for the way in which
our
technology transfer arrangements are organised, and indeed raises
questions
which relate to the whole structure of the organisation of science
policy
within the University, and which it may well be for the Commission of
Inquiry
to address. Meanwhile we shall have further to examine our technology
transfer
arrangements in the light of concerns expressed by the Charity
Commissioners
that the public good requires charities to be confident that adequate
development arrangements are in place either within the body that
receives the
grant or directly under the auspices of the charity itself. This is
particularly significant in the biomedical field and we look forward,
over the
next few months, to discussions on these issues with the Wellcome
Trust and
the other leading charities whose support is so fundamental to our
research
work in these areas. Consultation on the Working Party's report is
proceeding.

In a quite different field, while the imposition by the
University
Commissioners of a draft model statute on matters concerning the
tenure of
academic posts has caused the colleges a great deal of work (much of
which may
have been regarded by many as unproductive) the University centrally
has
turned its attention to the whole structure of its own disciplinary
procedures
relating to junior members. The Principal of St Hilda's is chairing a
Working
Party on this topic. She and her colleagues have consulted widely on
these
matters and we await their conclusions with interest. Student
disciplinary
matters lead one almost inevitably to think of the Proctors, and
concerns have
arisen over the arrangements which are made for their support. The
number of
appeals to the Proctors in a wide range of areas, not least decisions
over
graduate degrees, has increased markedly in recent times. This has a
significant impact both on the proportion of time that Proctors are
having to
devote to these `quasi-judicial' issues and on the organisation and
resources
of their office. Furthermore, it may not be widely known within the
University
that there has been a substantial growth over the past few years in
the
resources which have had to be allocated to matters of security. The
creation
of a new office to deal with these security matters has inevitably
placed
further pressure on the administration of the Proctors' Office and on
the
University Marshal. To address this problem, a Working Party, chaired
by the
Master of St Cross and with significant proctorial representation,
has
recommended a division of responsibilities, with enhanced
administrative
support for the Proctors in their traditional work, while at the same
time
ensuring that the Marshal continues as head of the security service,
reporting
to the Security Committee. In this way, the important role of the
Proctors
within the University will be sustained and appropriate resources
will be
provided for security matters.

Oxford's library system is one of our enormously important
intellectual
resources. It is the richness of the material which attracts many
scholars to
Oxford; but much anxiety has been expressed in the last year about
library
services. The University is in a way the victim of its own success.
The
computerisation of the catalogues in the Bodleian Library has made
the rich
resources of that library more obviously available to more people and
consequently they have wanted to read the books! This has brought
real stress
to a library system which operates to a very large degree on a closed
stack
basis. The General Board addressed the immediate problem by making
funds
available to the Bodleian to deal with the particular difficulties in
the
stacks which had caused such concern, but this was really the
emergency
application of elastoplast to a problem which needs more fundamental
review.
The first concern was an immediate one: David Vaisey,
Bodley's
Librarian, having decided to retire at the end of 1996 and other
senior
library posts being due to fall vacant at much the same time, Council
took the
opportunity to set up a review of the structure of the major library
posts and
of the underlying structure of the University libraries themselves.
Council
asked the President of Corpus Christi to chair a small committee,
with members
from outside Oxford, to look at both of these issues. With great
determination
and speed that Committee reported at the beginning of the Long
Vacation. This
report has now been published in the Gazette and Council
is
seeking views on it by the middle of Michaelmas Term. As the covering
note to
the Report published in the Gazette on 21 September 1995
indicated, Council has expressed strong support for the main thrust
of the
Report but wishes now to consider any views to be expressed over the
next few
weeks and, in the light of those views, may put a motion to
Congregation
before the end of Michaelmas Term addressing the conclusions of the
report. I
have no doubt that the organisation and structure of our libraries is
a very
important issue for the University to address and I believe that
there is an
opportunity now before us which, if grasped, will enable the
University to
make significant improvements to the library system as a whole.

That is the immediate library issue. Following on behind is
the second
and, in a way, broader question of what sort of library and
information
strategy the University should adopt in an age of multi-media
materials. That
issue has also been addressed during the course of the year, by a
Working
Party chaired by the Warden of Wadham. Active consideration is now
being given
to its recommendations, which are of a medium-term nature.

There is a third major libraries question, perhaps for the
longer term.
There is no doubt that users of open stack libraries (and as a lawyer
I am
one) tend to find them more user-friendly than closed stack
libraries.
However, more open stacks means a need for more space. Bodley's
Librarian, in
his speech at the Bodleian Founder's Luncheon last Hilary Term,
warned that
Oxford would have to face the fact that `huge closed-access libraries
on
central sites are now not sensible or efficient'—a challenging
statement
to make from Broad Street! He has also noted that, if and when the
Radcliffe
Infirmary site came into the possession of the University—as we
all hope
it will with the move to Headington of hospital and medical research
facilities in the Woodstock Road—a good case could be made for
part of
that site being devoted to library purposes. Meanwhile the meeting of
library
space needs forms a significant part of the planned developments on
the St
Cross site and to the rear of the Ashmolean Museum.

Looking more broadly at space issues, there is no doubt that
there are
others within the University already casting covetous eyes on the
Radcliffe
Infirmary site, reflecting the ever increasing need for space within
the
University. Again, we are victims of our success, pressure on space
being
evidence of the vibrant research and teaching activity going on in so
many
areas. It is now over 30 years since a fundamental review was
undertaken of
space demands within the University and of the opportunities to meet
them.
That review, with advice from Lord Holford and his colleagues, led to
the
current developments in the South Parks Road area, the development of
the
Keble Road triangle and the acquisition of houses in the Banbury
Road, though
it has not been possible to develop the last site in the way
originally
planned, not least because of increasing concern over conservation in
the
ensuing years. The time is now ripe (notwithstanding the work of the
Commission of Inquiry) for another major review of space needs and
opportunities. To that end, the Master of Balliol, the
Vice-Chancellor-Elect,
has agreed to chair a small space strategy group to look at these
matters and
their work is under way. I understand that the Master hopes to
complete the
work of the review within some eighteen months and it has been made
clear
that, if it is thought appropriate, external consultants might again
be
employed to provide advice. This might be an opportune point for me
to
congratulate the Master on his election as my successor, whilst
noting that,
as Vice-Chancellor-Elect, he will be in the happy position of reading
his own
report once in office and having to decide what to do about it!

Some of the activities to which I have just referred look some
way into
the future. There are, however, several very important matters which
have
reached fruition during the course of the last academic year, some of
which
have had substantial gestation periods (to mix metaphors).
Furthermore, the
two that I have particularly in mind have not had easy births either.
Much of
the non-routine work of the General Board during the past two years
or so has
been taken up with these very important matters. The first has been
to devise
a new mechanism for determining departmental grants. These have been
determined for a considerable period on what has been essentially an
historic
basis, with routine changes each year. The Board has for some time
thought
that greater transparency as to sources of funds and the basis of
distribution
was needed, while at the same time stoutly preserving the block grant
system
of public funding for the University. The devising of a formula which
will be
seen as justifiable and fair has, I know, occupied much of the energy
of the
former Chairman and other members of the General Board, the Secretary
of
Faculties and other officers of the University. It has not been an
easy task.
It never is when there could be losers as well as winners, but I have
no doubt
that it was a job that needed to be done. I have little doubt either
that
further adjustments of the formulae and of the system of grants are
likely to
be necessary over the next year or two as experience is gained of the
new
system in practice.

My second example of a fundamental review by the General Board
is one
which may be thought to have had even wider impact on the University
at large,
namely the examination of the difficult issue of promotions and
recognition of
distinction. This is a matter on which clear and strongly differing
views have
been held right across the University. Indeed, this was manifest in
the debate
in Congregation on the matter last Hilary Term, and in the very high
postal
vote by members of Congregation which followed. The decision has been
taken to
change the University's system of titles of distinction and to enable
all
those who are deemed, by peer review, to merit the title of Professor
or
Reader to assume it. A central aspect of the change—welcomed by
some
but not by all—is that the new system addresses the issue of
titles but
not of duties or of pay. The General Board is currently consulting
over the
whole question of duties and that is a matter which also touches on
the work
of the Commission of Inquiry. There have, however, been those who
have seen a
threat in the new system for conferring titles of distinction, a
threat which
could subvert the tutorial system. I have to say, as Vice-Chancellor
and thus
as Chairman of the Hebdomadal Council, that no evidence of such a
threat has
surfaced in our deliberations: I do not see a slippery slope from
title to
duties to pay. To be honest, the University, with its present
resources, could
not afford to change fundamentally its appointments system in such a
way. As
you will be aware, the new system for awarding the title of professor
or
reader will come into operation during the course of the coming
academic year,
with the new titles being assumed one year from now. I know that this
has not
been an easy decision within the University but I also know how much
care and
attention has been given to it, by all the members of the General
Board in
particular, and especially by the former Chairman and the Secretary
of
Faculties. I do think that the University owes them a real debt of
gratitude
for the time, effort and patience which they have devoted to both
these major
issues.

A further matter to which careful attention has been paid over
the year
is that of the financial position of University lecturers who have no
tutorial
fellowship. A Working Party addressing the complex issues involved
reported at
the end of Trinity Term. What was proposed was an interim solution
pending
further examination of the whole structure of University and college
appointments by the Commission of Inquiry. Council and the General
Board have
accepted that there is a serious problem of inequity to be addressed,
and as a
matter of urgency. Colleges' views are now being sought on the scheme
proposed
by the Working Party and colleges are also being invited to submit
any
alternative proposals they may have for addressing this very real
problem.

At the beginning of this Oration, I adopted a rather low key
approach
to fund-raising and development issues. However, I would not like
anyone to
assume that generosity to the University has diminished over the
course of the
past year or that the energies of the Development Office in Oxford
and abroad
have in any way diminished either. Indeed, nearly £10 million
has come to
the University through the Development Office during the ten months
following
the end of the Campaign, and over £1 million of this came to
colleges.
Continuing support for Oxford can be evidenced in a wide variety of
ways and I
will have to be selective. It is noteworthy that during the course of
the past
year we have been able to fill, or to decide to establish, the Drue
Heinz
Professorship of American Literature, the Lester Pearson
Professorship of
International Relations, the Cookson Professorship of Materials, the
Charles
Simonyi Professorship in the Public Understanding of Science, the
Professorship of Portuguese and new posts at the professorial and
other levels
in Law and in Management. An enormously generous bequest of some
£7
million from the late Mrs Jane Ledig-Rowohlt has enabled us to expand
the
Scatcherd Scholarship Scheme established in her lifetime to enable at
least 12
Oxford graduate students to study elsewhere in Europe and 12
graduates from
elsewhere in Europe to come to Oxford to do graduate work. The Kobe
Scholarships have been established by a generous benefaction to
enable the
University to complement the New Century Scholarships and thus to
increase the
number of Japanese graduate students here. I could provide a wide
variety of
other examples. Nor must we forget the massive income which the
University
receives, through the operations of the Research Services Office, to
support
its research activity. In 1993–4 our external research income
was some
£83m, as in the past the largest of any university in the
country and an
increase on the previous year of about 14 per cent; for last year,
1994–5, the figure was some £94 million, a further increase
of about
13 per cent. That is a remarkable record and I congratulate all
concerned,
heads of departments, heads of research teams and the researchers
themselves
on this continuing evidence of the research excellence of the
University.
There are, of course, many yardsticks of scholarly achievement, but I
would
like, today, to take two of significance in the Humanities and Social
Sciences. It should not go unrecorded that no fewer than fourteen new
Fellows
of the British Academy elected last summer came from Oxford, whether
as
Ordinary Fellows, Senior Fellows or, in one case, a Corresponding
Fellow. I do
congratulate them all as I do Professor David Hendry and Professor
Christopher
Peacocke who have been appointed to Leverhulme Trust Personal
Research
Professorships, out of a national total of only six awards, the
competition
for which was intense.

There is one particular aspect of the development scene on
which I
would like to pause—namely the relations between the colleges
and the
central University. When Campaign for Oxford was launched, colleges
provided
great help by, for example, making available lists of names and
addresses of
old members. For its part the Campaign, whether through mass mailings
or in
other ways, was concerned to ensure that those who wished to support
their
college were given every opportunity to do so—whether that
support was
exclusively for the college or was shared with the central
University. In that
way, some £26 million was contributed to colleges through the
Campaign.

Now that we have moved on to review our development activity
after the
Campaign, there is a number of further factors to be addressed in re-
examining college/university fund-raising arrangements. Far more
colleges are
actively involved in fund-raising than when the Campaign began. Their
investment in people and resources is considerable whether looked at
on a
college by college basis or, especially, looked at on the basis of
total
collegiate investment. Pressures on colleges to raise funds for posts
and
building, especially for student accommodation, do not abate. In the
latter
context, though much has been achieved, and the last decade must have
seen
more college building than any in our history, the desire to house
more of our
junior members in high quality accommodation remains strong—and
I applaud
both the aims and the achievement. Financial pressures abound. They
come in
varied forms. Most striking is the continuing reduction in the real
value of
college fees as cuts in the unit funding per student are applied to
such fees
as they are applied to Funding Council grants. Not to be forgotten,
however,
are, first, the increasing financial difficulties faced by junior
members and
their concerns, shared by many, over student hardship and, second,
the fact
that a depressed economy has a noticeable impact on college
investment
finances.

It is against this background that colleges have become
increasingly
concerned over the relationship between their fund-raising activities
and
those undertaken by the Development Office on behalf of the
University at
large. Colleges have discussed these concerns in the Conference of
Colleges
and I have had the opportunity to do so not only in my termly
meetings with
Heads of House but also last summer on a more individual basis. What
has
emerged is the establishment of a Working Group, a substantial part
of whose
membership consists of Heads of House, and chaired by me, which has
as its
objective the addressing not only of a number of immediate practical
concerns
but also the development of a broader university/college development
strategy
taking full account of the interlocking and different needs and
aspirations of
the whole University. The Group began its task during the summer. I
have no
doubt that close cooperation is essential to ensure the realisation
of the
greatest opportunities for us all.

Looking to the wider education and research scene, I can offer
no
greater prospect of quiet continuity than I could last year. First,
the
Department for Education has now become the Department for Education
and
Employment. An immediate anxiety is that higher education will
command a lower
priority within a larger department. I hope that this is wrong but I
fear it
may be right. Then there is the removal of the Office of Science and
Technology from the responsibilities of the Chancellor of the Duchy
of
Lancaster to the Department of Trade and Industry. Not only does this
indicate
more upheaval, it has sent shudders through parts of the scientific
and
research community right across the country. I am well aware of the
wide-
ranging expressions of protest and concern that have been made about
this. The
fear is that the case for basic scientific research will be lost in
the demand
for short-term commercial gain. In the long-term the nation would be
bound to
be the loser. One can but express the hope that claims by ministers
and others
that support for fundamental scientific research will continue as
before will
in fact be seen to be a statement of reality. In the forefront of
discussions
of these issues will be Professor Robert May, having just taken up
office as
the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, an appointment on which I
congratulate him warmly.

I think that many of us are suspicious of these recent changes
because
of the very serious damage already done to the funding of scientific
research
by the abandonment of a significant part of the dual support funding
system by
requiring the `well-found laboratory' to be funded through an
addition to the
research grant to provide a contribution to research costs, rather
than
through the central funding of the University. The `DR-shift' has
proved to be
little short of disastrous for all the major research universities,
not least
this one, and is the subject of a current review by Coopers &
Lybrand, shortly
to be completed. My understanding is that it has at last been
realised that
the problem is what we have always said it was, namely that the same
amount of
funds is coming to universities but in the form of a larger number of
grants,
each of which tends to be inadequately funded. The consequence is
that there
is a real danger that the more grants a university gets, the less
well-off it
becomes. We can only hope and urge that that mistake will now be
corrected. I
doubt whether this will be done retrospectively; this University has
lost
millions of pounds irretrievably as a consequence. It is the fear of
repetition of mistakes like that which cause the unease which
universities
feel when faced with other substantial changes in governmental
organisation of
higher education and research.

One of the major tasks with which the University will be faced
in the
coming year is the next Research Assessment Exercise. I cannot
underestimate
the financial importance of this to the University, as can be seen
from the
fact that some two thirds of our funding from HEFCE comes, under the
formula
basis, in relation to research activities as compared with that based
on
numbers of students to be taught. A particular source of concern
about the
exercise this year is the way in which it has engendered what I can
only
described as a `football-transfer frenzy'. One of the rules of the
exercise is
that a university which has a particular person in post on 31 March
1996 can
include the whole of that person's research activity and output over
the past
4 years even if he or she only arrived in that university the day
before. This
has led to a movement of productive researchers round the university
system in
order that they can be in post in their new institution on the
operative date,
thus ensuring that that institution will take the benefit of the work
supported by their former institution for most of the preceding four
years.
This merry-go-round is oiled by salary increases for those who move.
I have to
say that this does not seem to me to be a particularly productive
expenditure
of public money and I am convinced that this aspect of the assessment
exercise
must be changed fundamentally for future exercises.

Whilst the current pattern of Research Assessment Exercises is
such
that they come round every four years, the process of dealing with
teaching
assessments is for the University centrally, if not for individual
faculties,
a continuous one. The past year has seen assessments in six areas,
with the
judgment of the assessors being that teaching quality in five was
excellent,
whilst that in Music was judged merely satisfactory. Careful
attention will of
course have to be paid to areas of concern to the assessors, and with
particular energy in the case of Music, although changes were already
in train
here as a result of the General Board's own review in 1993–4. I
do,
however, congratulate all those involved in the areas adjudged
excellent,
namely Anthropology, Geography, Computing Science, Earth Sciences and
English.
The continuous process rolls on. The whole of Modern Languages and
Linguistics
will be assessed this year, and we have just received the programme
for the
coverage of all remaining subject areas. This would take us under the
present
system to the year 2001.

Many will be aware that there has been a vigorous debate on
the future
organisation and structure of this whole `quality' assessment
exercise with
differing views put to the Department for Education and Employment by
the
Funding Councils, the CVCP and the HEQC. At one stage there was a
risk that
each was expressing views without attention being paid to the
concerns of the
other. We seem now to be in a more constructive phase but my concern,
shared
by many, is that we should strive to produce a system which, whilst
it ensures
that it meets the legitimate concerns of the Funding Councils and
others to
reassure the public as to the quality of teaching in our
universities, does so
in a way which minimises the very real costs and upheaval that the
current
dual track system of assessment and audit involves—all at the
cost of
time and resources much of which might better be devoted to teaching
and
research. It is certainly encouraging that, following an initiative
from the
CVCP, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment agreed some
two
weeks ago to the establishment of a Joint Planning Group for a new
national
body to oversee arrangements to ensure the maintenance of the quality
of
teaching in higher education. The timetable for the Group's work is
tight but
the importance of the task is clear. We need a single, effective
streamlined
system.

On a happier note, any year in the life of a Vice-Chancellor
brings the
most extraordinary range of opportunities and experiences and I would
like to
look back on one or two of the more striking or unusual experiences
of the
past 12 months. I recall the ground breaking ceremony for the new
graduate
accommodation at Rewley Abbey, accommodation now occupied. That
ceremony
involved me in operating the pedals and levers of a mighty excavator.
I have
to confess that whilst I was very good at digging a hole in the
ground, I was
incapable of operating the bucket so as to keep any soil in it.
Another of my
faltering attempts at things mechanical occurred only a few weeks
ago, when I
was taking steps to sustain good relations between the University and
the
Royal Air Force. This occasion found me at the controls of a Wessex
helicopter, attempting to keep it hovering at a steady 50ft above
Abingdon
airfield. Happily for all concerned, the airfield was completely
deserted at
the time and there was an experienced Squadron Leader at my side to
avoid
disaster to him, as well as to me.

In a quite different vein, a memorable day in the life of the
University this last academic year was the visit of President
Àrpàd Göncz,
President of the Republic of Hungary, upon whom the Chancellor
conferred the
degree of Doctor of Civil Law by diploma. It was a great pleasure to
welcome
to the University such a staunch defender of freedom in his country,
and to be
able to do this now that those dark days are over. It was also a
pleasure to
be able to show the President copies of his own books in the Bodleian
Library,
and indeed the works of Tolkien which the President has translated
into
Hungarian from English, a language which he had perfected whilst in
prison.
Further afield, I had the pleasure in New Delhi of meeting and being
entertained to dinner by the President of India, a particularly kind
gesture
from a Cambridge man. That was during the second part of a memorable
visit
last December to India and Pakistan, meeting fellow Oxonians and
friends of
the University, as well as colleagues in the Press, seeking to
sustain our
high profile there and to increase scholarship opportunities. The
visit
started with my calling upon the President of Pakistan, the Prime
Minister of
Pakistan and the Chairman of the Pakistan Senate, all in the course
of the
same morning, all being Oxonians though not all of the same political
party.
Indeed I was struck by a comment made to me by another Pakistani
Oxonian, that
country's Foreign Minister, who pointed out that, at the time of my
visit,
there were more Oxonians in the Pakistan Cabinet than there were in
the
British one— though this summer's reshuffle of our Government
has rather
changed that. Another memorable event of the last year—and one
which
sadly I missed through being stricken with influenza—was the
meeting of
the Delegates of the University Press in New York last July. This was
the
first meeting of the delegates outside Oxford, and indeed their first
meeting
outside the Clarendon Building for some centuries. The purpose of the
New York
meeting was to mark the hundredth year of the activities of the Press
in the
United States and the opening of its new offices in New York. One
highlight of
the occasion was a long procession, down Madison Avenue, of delegates
and
others in full academic dress, led in my place by the President of
Corpus
Christi, no doubt to the bemusement of busy New Yorkers. More
seriously, this
is a happy opportunity to pay tribute to that particular milestone in
the life
of the Press.

As my final example of the variety of the past year, I recall
the
occasion of the award to the University of one of the new Queen's
Anniversary
Prizes for Higher Education. Both the Chancellor and I, with other
representatives of the University, were at Buckingham Palace last
February to
receive the prize from Her Majesty the Queen, and most of us were
able to
attend a dinner for the Prize winners at the Guildhall that evening
at which
the Prime Minister spoke encouragingly about the achievements of
higher
education—a speech which sadly but perhaps significantly
attracted no
public or media attention. I do congratulate all those within the
University,
including our own company Isis Innovation, whose endeavours led to
the award
to Oxford of one of the first of these prizes, given for our work in
technology transfer, described as `Exploitation of intellectual
property for
wealth creation'. As the citation for the Prize stated: `This is a
world class
programme to make available to industry and commerce the University's
full
array of intellectual skills'.

It must in the history of the University be quite some time
since in
the space of one year two new colleges came into being and a third
changed its
name. Mansfield College, which has had a long and distinguished
history as a
Permanent Private Hall, received its Royal Charter this summer and
became a
full member of the collegiate University. At the same time, Templeton
College
received its Royal Charter after an existence very much shorter than
that of
Mansfield and without going through any intermediate stage as a
Permanent
Private Hall, though through a rather different process of evolution
from its
origins in the Oxford Centre for Management Studies. We welcome them
both. One
of the newest Permanent Private Halls, itself moving rapidly towards
full
collegiate status, is Manchester College, and in recognition of the
major
benefaction which it received from the Harris Foundation, its formal
title has
now become Manchester Academy and Harris College. Again, we
congratulate it on
its progress.

Three Heads of House have just retired. Sir Patrick Neill has
been
Warden of All Souls for 18 years. His service to the University has
been
immense over a long period of years, not least during his term of
office as
Vice-Chancellor, being the architect of the Campaign for Oxford and
the cutter
of the Gordian knot of entitlement. I personally am most grateful to
him for
his wise advice over the past two years, as well as for his service
as a Pro-
Vice-Chancellor. In his place as Warden we welcome John Davis,
formerly
Professor of Social Anthropology. Duncan Stewart retires as Principal
of Lady
Margaret Hall after long service both to his college, and to the
University as
a former Vice-Chairman of the General Board and a long-serving member
of
Hebdomadal Council. He has been succeeded by Sir Brian Fall fresh
from the
British Embassy in Moscow. Finally, we bid farewell to Sir
Christopher Zeeman
as Principal of Hertford College, who should have been succeeded by
Angus
McIntyre, tragically killed last Christmas; but now we know that next
year we
shall be able to welcome Sir Walter Bodmer back to Oxford as the next
Principal.

I wish to record our gratitude for the lives and service of
our
colleagues who have died in office during the past year. We salute
the memory
of Professor Brooke Benjamin, Dr Jennifer Loach, a member of the
Hebdomadal
Council, Dr Angus Macintyre, Dr Michael Mahony, Dr John Rollett, Dr
Alan
Tayler, Dr Michael Meenaghan and Mr Bryan Kershaw. No less a loss is
that of
our former colleagues who have died in retirement, amongst whom are
numbered
Professor C.G. Phillips, Professor Sir Rudolph Peierls, Mr J.I.M.
Stewart,
Miss Marjorie Sweeting, Dr H.M.V. Smith, Lady Florey, Mr A.D.M. Cox,
Miss K.M.
Lee, Lady Macdougall and Mr E.H.F. Smith.

Over the past year a number of our colleagues have retired
from major
academic posts which they have held with distinction: Professor D.S.
Smith
from the Hope Professorship of Zoology (Entomology), Professor J.H.
Edwards
from the Professorship of Genetics, Professor F.J.H. Haskell from the
Professorship of the History of the Art, Professor I.M. James from
the
Savilian Professorship of Geometry, Professor J.D.C. McConnell from
the
Professorship of the Physics and Chemistry of Materials, Professor
C.A. Mango
from the Bywater and Sotheby Professorship of Byzantine and Modern
Greek
Language and Literature and Professor J.G.G. Ledingham from the May
Readership
in Medicine. The list is substantial of those others who have retired
from
their academic posts after long and loyal service: Dr P.T.H. Beckett,
Dr M.J.
Coe, Miss T.C. Cooper, Mr H.R. Harré, Dr A.M Howatson, Mrs
N.V Jones,
Mr J.P.S. Montagu, Mr J.M. Prest, Mrs E.A. Smart and Dr A.G. Taylor.
The
number of retirements from academic-related, administrative and
similar posts
has also been substantial over the past year: included in that number
are Mrs
H.W. Brown, Miss G.M. Ledger, Sir John Johnson, Mr H.P.B. Atyeo, Mr
A.F.W.
Mattingley, Mrs C.M. Robinson and Dr C.M. Mould. To them all we give
our
thanks for their service to the University.

The support which the Vice-Chancellor receives is wide-ranging
and
substantial and for that I am most grateful. Today, however, I would
like to
express particular gratitude to two people. The first is Ian
Thompson, former
Secretary of the Chest, who has left the University for the wetter
pastures
of the University of Manchester; his has been a wise voice in the
counsels of
the University and we shall miss his robust financial advice.
Finally, Dr John
Peach has now served his two years as Chairman of the General Board.
I have
admired his tact, determination, industry and efficiency, and not
least his
continual good humour. He has been a tower of strength to me during
the first
half of my Vice-Chancellorship and I thank him warmly for that. I
look forward
to the prospect of working closely with his successor, Dr Paul Slack.
And I
look forward to the year ahead with enthusiasm, confident in the
continuing
excellence of the University in both teaching and research.

3 October
1995