Oration by the Vice-Chancellor - (3) to No 4449



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

Oxford University Gazette

Oration by the Vice-Chancellor

Supplement (3) to Gazette No. 4449

Wednesday, 15 October 1997



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No. 4450 (16 October 1997)

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The year just ended might in many ways be characterised as the Year of the
Review. There has been a flurry of review activity in the university world in
general and in Oxford in particular. On the broader scene there was published
in July the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher
Education—the Dearing Report. In Oxford, we have had the benefit of a
range of regular reviews under the auspices of the General Board, including
reviews of the Computing Service, of Law, of Geography and of Continuing
Education as well as that of Chemistry which has led to the creation of a
single unified Department. Another major review was completed this summer
with the report of the Working Party on University Sites, under the
chairmanship of my successor, of which report more later; and there have
also been reviews of the registrarship, in the light of the fact that the
present Registrar retires next Easter, and of the whole of our development
activity, given that the present structures have been in place for some nine
years. The report of this latter committee under the chairmanship of the
President of Wolfson College was received last week. Another major review in
train at the moment is of sports facilities and their organisation right across
the University at large, under the chairmanship of Dr Bill MacMillan. Over the
summer, the President of Mansfield College has been examining the role and
the activities of the Europaeum, whilst the Secretary of the Chest and his
colleagues have been undertaking a major review of the University's financial
systems and procedures.

Alongside all that activity there has continued to run that of the
Commission of Inquiry under my chairmanship. That body's very existence
makes my task today a somewhat difficult one. This autumn the University
will, in a sense, receive two Orations from me—today's and the report of
the Commission of Inquiry; though I hasten to say that the latter will be
very much a team effort. We had intended to report a good deal earlier this
year but we concluded, and so informed the University last term, that it
seemed more useful for us to delay our work and to report once we had had
time to reflect on the major implications of the Dearing Report. This we intend
to do during the course of this new term.

I would like to say a further word about two of the reviews to which I
have just referred being ones that are in a way interconnected. The report
of the Working Party on University Sites provides an extremely thorough
analysis of the University's long term needs and opportunities in the way of
sites. Expansion is, I think, inevitably set to continue, and there is a limit to
the extent to which we can develop our existing sites. Even given, as we
hope, the ultimate acquisition and development of the Radcliffe Infirmary site,
there will be further site expansion needs. Whilst I am sure that our priorities
will change over the next few years, I have no doubt that this report will
form a secure basis on which we can plan strategically the way ahead so far
as physical development is concerned. All of this development will, however,
cost money and it is estimated that to meet the needs identified in the report
would cost between £100 and £150m. That sounds a lot of money but
it is not quite so frightening when you put the cost in three contexts. The
first is that of the twenty-year period over which this money would probably
need to be raised and then spent. The second is the context of our current
building activity. The total cost of University buildings either under
construction now, or on which building is due to start in the next twelve
months, is close to £90m. The third is that of the success of the
University development activity over the last nine years. It was this passage
of nine years that made it seem right to appoint the Committee to Review
Development Activity to reflect on where we have got to and where next we
should go. It is, however, worth noting that during the six years of Campaign
for Oxford we raised just over the planned £340m, split between
endowment money and money for scientific and other research. In the three
succeeding years, the figure is the remarkable one of £369m. From the
development perspective, the figure is, however, somewhat misleading as much
of the sum is accounted for by our very substantial research income.
Nevertheless, the funds raised by and through the Development Office over
the last three years amount to almost exactly half the equivalent funds raised
during the six years of Campaign for Oxford. For all these reasons, I think
that the funding objectives in relation to site acquisition and development are
realistic ones for the University to adopt.

In terms of the review of our development activity, it does seems to me
right to reflect on the current inter-relationship between fund-raising, friend-
raising, the sustaining of links with old members of the University in this
country and abroad, the increasing number of commercial activities with which
the University is centrally involved and, finally, the continuing and important
activity in fund-raising for research in the University. The total research
income figure for the year just ended is £107m, a relatively small
increase on the previous year, but a massive sum, nevertheless. A
reassessment of the inter-relation of all those activities, of the structures in
the University to handle them, the priorities for fund-raising expenditure in
this country and abroad, and, indeed, of the amount of money that the central
University and colleges together ought to be devoting to this activity seems
to me to be very timely.

The Dearing Report was published in late July, and much press attention
and speculation has been devoted to its, and the Government's, proposals on
funding. This is a crucially important issue but was by no means the sole
issue addressed in the Report. Later in this Oration I refer to a number of
Dearing related funding issues. I would, at this stage, wish to make just two
broad points. The first is that universities need clarity. Since July, we have
had statement and counter-statement on funding. The sooner universities,
students, would-be students and their parents know clearly where they stand,
not only for next year but also for the students' whole time at university, the
better. The second is that the fees to be charged to students must come
directly to universities to relieve the funding crisis therein. If that means
sensibly altering the rules for calculating the Public Sector Borrowing
Requirement, so be it.

As I said, the Dearing Report is about more than funding and the
University has just submitted its comments on the Report as a whole to the
DfEE, to meet their deadline of yesterday, comments which will be published
in the Gazette. In broad terms, there is much to commend in the rest of the
Report, for example on standards, on diversity of institutional mission, on
access, on expansion, on focusing on quality of teaching, on the better use of
IT, and on research funding. Indeed there is a risk of categorising many of
the recommendations as `motherhood and apple pie'. I use this phrase not in
a derogatory way, but because many of the proposals will and do, in their
broad forms, command wide support. However, as in so many matters, `the
devil is in the detail' and, indeed, in the funding of the detail. A new
Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education needs to be paid for;
earmarked funding by the Funding Councils of special projects reduces the
general funds available; extending the remit of the new Quality Assurance
Agency carries the risk of higher institutional subscriptions—all this at
a time of planned further cuts in public support for higher education. It is
said that expansion of higher education can be funded, in significant part, by
£1.3b in savings—an heroic assumption. We have to be confident that
we can really afford all that the Dearing Committee, and many others, would
wish to achieve.

There is one recommendation in the Dearing Report which is of very
particular interest to this University. Recommendation 74 reads as follows:

`We recommend to the Government that variations in the level of public
funding for teaching, outside modest margins, should occur only where:

—there is an approved difference in the provision;

—society, through the Secretary of State or his or her agent, concludes,
after examining an exceptionally high level of funding, that in relation to
other funding needs in higher education, it represents a good use of
resources.'

The report then goes on to say, in paragraph 19.46, that `the college fees
in Oxford and Cambridge represent a substantial addition to the standard
funding for institutions of higher education. We propose that the Government
reviews them against the two principles we have proposed'. We had already
been given an indication, during the course of the annual negotiation of fee
levels between the colleges and the Department for Education and Employment,
that a review of college fees was on the cards and, indeed, that it was likely
that the issue would be referred to the Higher Education Funding Council for
England. That is what has now occurred, and yesterday we had our first
review meeting with the Chief Executive and officers of the Funding Council.
We shall play our full part in this review, ensuring that the views of colleges
and of the central University are fully co-ordinated, and that there is proper
liaison with Cambridge.

I believe that a powerful case can be made to justify the continued
payment of college fees at a significant level. In other words, I believe that
the Dearing criteria can readily be met. Although college fees payable to
Oxford from the public purse amount to some £33m a year, there is a
deduction of £14m a year from the University's Funding Council grant in
reflection of these payments. So the actual additional public funding to Oxford
is £19m a year; though one must not forget that college fees are also
paid by non-publicly funded students. The central issue is whether it is
justifiable to continue to spend that amount of money of public funds to
support two of the country's internationally renowned universities. That issue
immediately provokes international comparisons. If we look at the leading
universities in the USA, we find that their fees are considerably greater than
ours whilst at the same time their endowment is also very significantly greater
than ours. For example, Harvard's endowment is some $9bn; ours (colleges
and university combined) is but a quarter of that. Nevertheless, we have to
compete with the major American universities for staff, research students, and,
indeed, research resources.

I think that the essential issue in this context is not, in a way, that of
college fees themselves, but rather that of the desirability of the United
Kingdom continuing to have two collegiate universities. It is unavoidable that
collegiate universities are more expensive than monolithic universities. It is
also the case that the contribution made to the collegiate system by college
fees is not something that can be simply replaced by a contribution from
college endowments. Not all colleges are well endowed. College endowments are
currently fully used to support the academic endeavours of the colleges and
thus of the University at large. There is no great unspent pot of income
which could be used to fill the £19m plus gap which would stem from the
loss of fees. A collegiate university means colleges. It is the college system
which enables a university which is large in British terms to operate to the
benefit of all, teachers and taught, in some forty small multi-disciplinary
academic communities. What this does is to facilitate close partnership between
students and teachers, the latter also being at the forefront of research
activity. It enables particular care to be taken of the students' academic
development and of their more general well being. It enables decisions to be
made, college by college, in relation to admissions when particular attention
can be paid to individual applications in relation to their academic potential
as well as to their paper qualifications.

There are various measures which could be applied to judge the success
of the college system. For example, Oxford has a considerably lower drop-out
rate than the national average. It has a considerable lower unemployment rate
of graduates than the national average. The latter indicates the value put by
employers on the highly demanding, but personal, nature of the tutorial
system. That system could not function in anything like its present way
without the collegiate structure. Colleges are also significant contributors to
the research excellence of the University. They help to sustain the general
academic environment, not least in inter-disciplinary fields. They make a major
contribution through the use of their endowments, funding some 150 Junior
Research Fellowships, with all that that means for the development of research
in the university and, indeed, for those individuals' research careers.
Furthermore, college libraries, again supported from both endowment and fees,
house specialist research material and a number of important historical
collections. So the contribution of colleges to the intellectual strengths of
Oxford is through both teaching and research.

Were college fees to disappear, whether paid directly to colleges or in
some other way, it has to be realised that there are not sufficient funds
available for transfer to the less well endowed colleges so as to ensure the
retention of the collegiate tutorial system. Furthermore, any such transfer of
funds, even if lawful, would be at the price of current expenditure on proper
and highly desirable activity. Loss of college fees would mean that the
strengths of both the college system and the tutorial system would be lost.
It is also striking that such a dramatic change could not be accommodated
without considerable shedding of posts which, itself, would have a significant
effect on the economy of Oxford, to say nothing of the implications for the
individuals concerned. So I come back to my original view that Oxford, and I
am sure Cambridge, can mount, and will mount, a sustained case to convince
the Government, and society more broadly, that the current funding
arrangement through college fees `represents a good use of resources'. I said
in my address last week to the Chancellor's Court of Benefactors that I did
not believe that any rational Government would wish seriously to put at risk
the intellectual achievements of the two ancient universities or to destroy
their competitive position on the world university scene. But that is what is
at risk—and the danger comes when those responsible for the decisions
are not fully aware of the risks and their implications. It is important that we
all ensure that, over the coming weeks, no one is in any doubt of what is at
stake.

I referred earlier to the publication due this coming term of the report
of the Commission of Inquiry. My work and that of my colleagues on the
Commission has inevitably caused us to apply our minds to the future of the
University. What I have to say now is, though entirely personal also, in a
way, a foretaste of some of the issues which the report of the Commission will,
necessarily, address. I think that the challenges for Oxford in the future are
considerable, but I also have no doubt that meeting them will strengthen the
University overall. What then do I conceive of as the challenges, not only for
the period of the next Vice-Chancellorship but beyond?

I believe that the University will need to focus even more attention on
teaching and on how greater regard for it can be introduced into our system
of recognition and rewards. We shall need to become more aware of the fact
that, of the 4,000 or so people who are employed in the University as a whole
to teach and/or to do research, the largest single group are employed on
short term research contracts. Furthermore, those employed by the colleges,
primarily to teach, constitute almost as large a group as that of the traditional
academic staff holding both University and college joint teaching and research
appointments. The huge growth in the first two categories poses particular
challenges for us in areas such as career development, involvement in the
collegiate structures of the University and in the governance of the
University and of its various bodies, and in the provision of appropriate
social facilities.

There needs to be a wider realisation in Oxford of the impact and
significance of the University across the world, and of the interest in our
future shared by the wide family of Oxonians to be found in over
170 countries. One important resource for the University in this context is the
Oxford University Press and its many, and indeed increasing number of,
branches overseas. We need to give further thought to the opportunities
which there are for developing those links ever more strongly for the benefit
of the whole University. I also believe that there are now many opportunities
for building a stronger relationship between the University and a
constitutionally independent Oxford Society.

I am sure that the University could and should renew its efforts to
widen access to Oxford. There are many good and effective schemes already,
such as the Target Schools Scheme, the Access Scheme, individual schemes run
by colleges with great success and, most recently established this summer, the
Oxford Summer School, so generously funded by the Lampl Foundation—all
of which are important in extending opportunities for entry to Oxford.
Nevertheless, it is always the case that we could do more; it is important that
we ensure that young men and women of real ability have every opportunity
to enjoy the benefits that Oxford has to offer, irrespective of their
educational, social or cultural background.

The college system is one of the great strengths of the University but
it will need to be built upon and developed, and the colleges will need to
show themselves adaptable in a variety of ways: in relation to funding
methods, to their administrative organisation, to a reassessment of the quality
of educational provision as between colleges, to re-examination of teaching
practices, and to the need for the public assurance of the quality of the
educational provision that they give. The world of higher education in which
we now operate is increasingly demanding in many of these fields.

One of the great strengths of our University is its research excellence
and here I must pay tribute to all my colleagues who contributed to our
striking success in the latest Research Assessment Exercise whose results
were published earlier this year. To have 92 per cent of academic staff in
departments rated 5* or 5 is quite remarkable. This research strength must
be sustained and developed; but we do need to realise that, though it brings
in large sums of money, research also costs the University a lot. We shall
need to be more vigorous in examining these costs and in determining just
what research it is that we ought to support. Related to research is the
question of technology transfer. The University has been in the forefront of
developing technology transfer mechanisms, evidenced by the award of a
Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education two years ago for the work
of Isis Innovation. Nevertheless, I believe that we need to develop this work
further and to do so for the benefit of the community at large as well as of
inventors and the University itself. We will need to invest more in the
commercial development of new ideas in order for us to gain more, both
financially and, indeed, intellectually.

Oxford is one of the largest universities in Britain. We have been growing
steadily over the last decades. I am convinced that we need to plan for
continued growth but that that growth needs both to be slow and to be
contained. We are a big University in a small City which also has another
substantially sized university within its boundaries. Uncontrolled growth would
damage the local community and put inordinate strain on our own academic
resources. No growth at all would, I believe, tend to stultify the University
unless we were prepared to cut back on successful activity in order to
nurture new projects. Growth I think there should be, but I believe that it
should be slower than that which we have experienced during the 1990s.

We need to re-examine our systems of governance and of administration.
Both are more cumbersome and less effective than they might be. We need to
ensure that we have the right tools to run a major international university
and to do so as effectively, and as economically both in terms of money and
of time, as we can. In the process we need to minimise the administrative
burdens which now fall so substantially on so many, whilst retaining the
participative ethos of a proper university. There are challenges here. Many
in Oxford place great weight on the ultimate authority of Congregation. Yet it
is not clear that that authority is fully compatible with the approach of the
Dearing Committee to university governance. On the other hand, the Dearing
Report welcomes diversity within higher education. We face the challenge of
balancing participation with effectiveness.

Finally, there is funding more generally. Forty years ago, I enjoyed the
benefits of Oxford, with my tuition fees fully paid by the state and with an
adequate maintenance grant, albeit on a means-tested basis. We are now
moving into a different age where we are told that all maintenance grants are
to go and that contributions will have to be made towards fees. I see no other
way forward in terms of meeting the current funding crisis in universities;
but I cannot but compare the position of undergraduates today with those of
my generation. In my heart I would have liked the old system to have
continued, but in my head I am convinced that it cannot, change being the
price we have to pay for the enormously widened access to universities that
there is today. Indeed, I have serious doubts whether the funding regime that
the Government is planning to introduce will in any way be adequate to meet
the current needs of universities, let alone the cost of any expansion which
is planned for two or three years hence as the Dearing Report suggests and
the Prime Minister has recently endorsed. If that expansion is to come and no
more public money is available, then I can see the new fees regime having to
be extended ever further. I would not be surprised to see in my crystal ball,
five years hence, differential fee structures for different universities. What
will certainly make this more likely is if the new fees to be paid by students
do not come in full to universities—and we have been given no guarantee
that they will. I repeat what I said earlier—it is essential that they do.
We have, of course, to bear in mind that it is only for the last seventy-five
years or so, out of an 800-year history, that Oxford has been a University in
receipt of public funds. I would not wish to go back to the days when all
support for the University came from private funds, nor do I think that it is
practicable to do so, but I suspect that the mix between the two is going to
change quite radically over the next decade.

A further challenge is that of pay. There are two issues here. The first
concerns the nature of the system for determining levels of pay, and this
focuses on the question whether there should continue to be national pay
bargaining or whether we should move to local determination, with all the
costs and uncertainties that I believe go with that. The second concerns the
level of individual pay in the University system as a whole. The Dearing
Committee is uncertain as to what is the best way forward on both matters,
and they have recommended the establishment of an independent review
committee to report by April 1998 on the framework for determining pay and
conditions of service, including the question whether pay levels for all or any
groups need adjustment. Such reviews are all very well, but in Oxford we
have particular and atypical concerns. We are faced with trying to recruit
some of the most able academics from other universities in this country and
in other parts of the world. We have to be competitive with the pay levels
that some people have achieved in other British universities and, to a degree,
competitive with the sorts of levels that are paid in North America or the Far
East. So far as non-academic pay is concerned, we have to compete with local
professional or commercial rates of pay. Whilst we have done quite well, I do
not believe that we are as successful as we might be in doing all of this. At
the higher academic level, I have no doubt that the introduction of five levels
of professorial distinction awards has helped greatly in terms of both
recruitment and retention. Nevertheless, the University will, I believe, have
to look again within the fairly near future at the current levels of award
under that scheme. I also think that we will be under increasing pressure to
examine whether the current age wage scale can continue in operation, given
the fact that we are now often attempting to recruit people who are faced
with a pay drop when they come here at the lecturer level, coming as some
do from readerships or professorships elsewhere. We need to be able to
continue to recruit those people, just as we need to be able to recruit
professionals and others to provide the necessary support for the academic
activities of the University. If there is no more money, then the really
difficult question will be whether the solution is to pay fewer people better.

One of the particularly pleasurable aspects of the Oration is that it gives
me the opportunity to draw attention to varied manifestations of distinction
across the University. I am delighted to have been able to congratulate the
following new Fellows of the Royal Society: Professor Mike Brady, Professor
Julian Jack, Professor Christopher Perrins and Professor Kenneth Reid. Similar
congratulations have gone to seven new Fellows of the British Academy:
Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Professor John Kay, Professor Basil Markesinis,
Professor John Muellbauer, Professor Tony Nuttall, Professor Nigel Palmer and
Professor Alfred Stepan. It is an added pleasure to be able to congratulate Sir
David Cox on his election as an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy. Closer
to home we have now had the experience of two rounds of the Titles of
Distinction exercise. In July 1996, the title of professor was conferred on 162
members of the University and that of reader on 99. This summer 57
professorial titles and 54 titles of reader have been conferred. Whilst this
exercise has not been without controversy, it is worth noting that over the
two years there have been in excess of 500 applications for these titles and
there is no doubt that many in the University appreciate our ability in this
way to recognise the international distinction of so many of our colleagues.

During the course of the summer, the Museums and Galleries Commission
designated thirty-two museums as ones holding outstanding collections. It is
a particular source of pleasure that all four major museums in the
University—the Ashmolean Museum, the University Museum of Natural
History, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of
Science—were included on that list. Oxford was the only university to
have four such museums on the list. This emphasises the major contribution
that they make to the cultural life of Oxford at large. In 1995, as I mentioned
earlier, the University was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher
Education for the work of Isis Innovation; last February we received a
second award, this time for the work of the Institute of Molecular Medicine.
We are only one of three higher education institutions to have received two
such awards. It is now becoming something of a habit to report that the
Botanic Gardens won another Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. The
record over the last six years is one silver, two silver gilt and four gold
medals. This marks the great pleasure that the Botanic Gardens give to wide
sections of the community stretching far beyond the University.

Mention of the wider community takes me on to say something about the
relations between the University and the City of Oxford. There is no doubt
that, in the past, the relationship has at times been a turbulent one. Thoughts
instinctively go back to the St Scholastica's Day riots in February 1355,
though even in the context of the turbulent life of medieval England it is
worth noting the comment that `evidence of friendship and co-operation
between scholars and citizens is more impressive than the record of sporadic
violence'. Happily the modern world is very different and, on 10 February
1955, the 600th anniversary of the start of those three days of rioting, the
City and the University came together in a formal way with the conferment of
an honorary DCL on the then Lord Mayor and the Freedom of the City on the
then Vice-Chancellor. There is now a very real community of interest between
the City and its two universities and I would like to say how much I have
benefited from the kindness of, and co-operation from, successive Lord Mayors
over the last four years and from the Senior Officers of the City
Council—and indeed from the County Council and the successive Chairmen
thereof. Education is the City's biggest business and it is important that we
all develop policies and approaches which enable education to flourish for the
benefit of all in the City and the County. There is no doubt that this carries
responsibilities on the part of the University. We are all, of course, very well
aware of the range of facilities and resources of the University and are
concerned to make them as widely available as is practicable to the wider
Oxford community. I think of our museums and our parks and gardens, and
indeed of our libraries for those who are conducting research. We are,
however, a major tourist attraction and there is a difficult balance to strike
between making available the heritage of our buildings to citizens of Oxford
and tourists alike, whilst still continuing the academic activities therein for
which they were designed and built. It is undoubtedly the case that there are
many contributions made to the life of the City and the County by individual
members of the University, by student groups and by other organisations. I
am, however, concerned that, at times, there is a failure on the part of some
to realise just what contribution the University, in all its manifestations, does
make to the wider community. We are, therefore, at the moment conducting a
survey within the University centrally and with colleges in order to produce
a comprehensive account of what is done by the University for the benefit of
those who live in and near Oxford.

It would be foolish not to think that there will, from time to time, be
tensions between the University and the City. The most obvious ones relate
to planning and to traffic control. We all want to see a reduction in city
centre traffic and pollution, yet we need reasonable vehicular access for those
who work and, indeed, live in the city. We all want to see fine buildings
erected in Oxford; we may not always agree as to the distinction of the
designs or the suitability of the site, but we have to bear in mind that the
future of the City, its economy and its architecture are in the care of both
of us in so many ways. All this is, in a way, a prelude to my saying with
what enormous pleasure the University welcomed the decision of the City to
confer the Honorary Freedom of the City on the University of Oxford, the
ceremony taking place in the middle of last month. It is the highest honour
which the City can confer and I believe that it is the first time that it has
been conferred other than on individuals, regiments or other cities. Both we
and, I am sure, Oxford Brookes University on whom the freedom was also
conferred, take great pride in this decision. We are grateful for it and I view
it as a signal of the need for the City and the University to focus even more
clearly on the contribution that education makes to the well-being of us all.

Mention of Oxford Brookes University takes me on to say how much I
have appreciated the co-operation I have received from our colleagues there.
I am particularly grateful for all the help I have received from the former
Vice-Chancellor, Dr Clive Booth, and it was a great pleasure to be present a
few weeks ago at the ceremony for the installation of his successor, Professor
Graham Upton.

The year just ending is unusual in that there are only three changes in
college headships to remark. We bid farewell to Dr John Albery, who will be
succeeded at University College in January by Sir Robin Butler. Sir Marrack
Goulding assumes the helm at St Antony's in place of Lord Dahrendorf, to
whom I owe a particular debt as a long serving Pro-Vice-Chancellor; and,
again in January, Sir Crispin Tickell will be replaced at Green College by Sir
John Hanson. We thank those who are retiring for all that they have done in
their different ways for the collegiate university and welcome in their place
three distinguished public servants whose contribution to the life of Oxford
will, I am sure, be both useful and substantial.

The past twelve months have been marked by the retirement of a number
of colleagues who have provided the University with a wide range of
distinguished service. I think in particular of Professor D.A. Allport, Professor
of Experimental Psychology; Professor R.H. Cassen, Professor of the Economics
of Development; Professor Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor of Modern
History; Professor G.A. Fowler, Professor of General Practice; Professor D.
Gray, Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language; Professor K.W.
Morton, Professor of Numerical Analysis; Professor E.G.S. Paige, Professor of
Electrical Engineering; Professor M.B. Parkes, Professor of Palaeography;
Professor A.W. Raitt, Professor of French; Professor T.O. Ranger, Rhodes
Professor of Race Relations; Professor L.D. Reynolds, Professor of Classical
Language and Literature; Professor L. Solymar, Professor of Applied
Electromagnetism; Professor N. Stone, Professor of Modern History; Professor
M.J. Whelan, Professor of Microscopy of Materials; Professor C.J. White,
Director of the Ashmolean Museum. From Readerships, the following have
retired: Dr D. Tarin, Dr M.L.H.L. Weaver, and Dr J.C. Wilkinson.

Many others have retired from their academic posts after long and loyal
service to the University: Dr N.E. Booth, Dr A. Corney, Dr M.P. Esnouf, Dr K.D.
Gore, Dr D.B. Hope, Mrs P.T. Ingham, Mr R.S. Lucas, Dr D.F. Mayers, Mr H.M.
Radford, Dr J.D. Renton, Dr M.J.T. Robinson, Dr C.J.S.M. Simpson, Mrs J.H.
Solomon, Dr N.W. Tanner, and Dr V. Williams. Other areas of the life of the
University have been marked by retirements. I think especially of the
retirement of Dr S. Jones as Curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum, of Mr R.J.
Roberts as Deputy Librarian of the Bodleian Library, and of Mr David Vaisey,
to whom I paid tribute last year, as Bodley's Librarian. Others who have
retired from professional or administrative posts include Dr G.B. Atkins, Mr
R.K. Calvert, Dr D.W. Chapman, Dr J.C. Hasler, Mrs L. Hayes, Mr E.J.S. Powell,
and Mr R.L.D. Rees.

The University should record its gratitude for the lives and service of
those who have died in office during this past year. We salute the memory of
Dr E.S. Hodgson, Mrs A.M. Northover, and Dr M.C. O'Brien. Our loss among our
former colleagues who have died in retirement is considerable. I have in mind
such distinguished scholars as Professor Kenneth Allen, Professor Sally
Frankel, The Revd Professor Hedley Sparks, Mr Godfrey Bond—a former
Public Orator, Dr H.J.H. Rose, Dr J.M. Thomas, Mr George Morrison, Dr F.N.
Robinson, Dr Douglas Roaf, Dr Bernard Rose, Mr Reginald Perman, Mrs Mildred
Taylor, Dr Nicholas Polgar, Dr W.R.C. Handley, Mr David Mitchell, Mr A.C.
Baines, The Revd A.W. Adams, Mr R.W.B. Burton, The Revd Canon J.N.D. Kelly,
and Mr P.L. Gardiner.

We have now almost reached that point in the ceremony when, if I may
mix my metaphors, the baton in my hand is about to be passed
on—presumably the same baton being seized by the Master of Balliol from
his knapsack. However, there is one further, and pleasant, task that still lies
before me, namely to express my thanks to so many people who have provided
assistance and support to me over the past four years. Constitutionally, I am
sure that it is right that I should start with the Chancellor. Oxford is unusual
in its self-government, one consequence of which is that there is no chairman
of a University Council with whom the Vice-Chancellor can discuss issues
relating to the academic development or the external affairs of the University.
Our Chancellor fills that role quite admirably so far as the Vice-Chancellor is
concerned and I am extremely grateful to him not only for all that he does for
the University in Oxford and elsewhere, but also for the very strong personal
support which he has given to me over the past four years. He has been ever
ready to provide quiet, wise advice on whatever issue I might raise with
him.

Oxford has nobody who is described as a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, though
it may do so after consideration of the report of the Commission of Inquiry!
Nevertheless, there are two offices which fall closest to filling that role. The
first, and full-time, office is that of Chairman of the General Board, and the
relationship between the Vice-Chancellor and the Chairman is inevitably a close
one. It is important that it should be a relationship that works, and I must
express my thanks to the three Chairmen of the General Board with whom I
have worked, John Peach, Paul Slack, and Glenn Black. To all of them I owe
thanks for their wise counsel freely given, and for their kindness and
friendship over the past four years. The other post which might be regarded
as that of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor is that of President of the Development
Programme, in this case a half-time office, but my thanks are no less
considerable to Professor Andrew Goudie for shouldering that burden for the
past three years. It is an important and significant role within the University,
and we are all in Professor Goudie's debt for the care and attention which he
has given to that task.

To my ten Pro-Vice-Chancellors I owe a particular debt of gratitude. My
absences in Northern Ireland during the first half of the academic year meant
that they conducted more ceremonies, chaired more electoral boards, and
conferred more degrees than it might have been reasonable to expect, and for
that support, and everything else they have done over the past four years,
I am indeed grateful. I must also express my thanks to five sets of Proctors
and Assessors and would like to say how important I have found our routine
weekly meetings in enabling me to retain a feel for the kind of problems and
anxieties which end up in the Proctors' Office and which are dealt with each
year with such care by the Proctors and Assessor. I hope that I, for my part,
may have been able, from time to time, to provide advice which has been of
assistance to them. My colleagues on Council and on many committees have
borne my chairmanship with good humour and provided me, and the
University, with abundant common sense.

The University owes much, as does every Vice-Chancellor, to its civil
service, all those people who work in Wellington Square, in the Malthouse and
in Oxenford House. So many of them have provided me with well drafted
letters and briefs, and with courteous but, where appropriate, constructively
critical advice. I would, however, like to single out three people for particular
personal thanks. The first must be the Registrar, on whose support so many
Vice-Chancellors have come to rely for nearly twenty years. At times the
debates between us have been quite vigorous, especially when I have used the
worst description I can find of him, namely that his arguments are `rational'.
But his analytical skills, his ability to draft with both speed and clarity and
his willingness to ensure that all the arguments are properly considered, even
if the Vice-Chancellor or a committee must take the decision at the end of the
day, have served the University extremely well for a long time. He retires
next March and we shall miss him greatly. There will, I am sure, be
opportunities in the months to come more fully to express our thanks to him.
Secondly, and very differently, I would like to express my personal thanks to
Douglas Livingstone who has clocked up over 60,000 miles driving me hither
and thither, often at the most unsocial of hours, such as meeting flights at
Heathrow at 4 a.m. Always this has been done with skill and good humour.

Just a few weeks ago, Anne Smallwood retired, having served as the
Vice-Chancellor's secretary for nearly thirty years and having endured the
eccentricities of no fewer than eight Vice-Chancellors. Her services to higher
education were rightly rewarded with an MBE in the Birthday Honours List,
and the University will confer on her an Honorary MA at a ceremony later this
month. Today, I would simply like to express my thanks for all that she has
done to organise my life over the past four years.

Of course, during the last four years, while I have been based in
Wellington Square, life has continued in my college and I am grateful for the
support which the Acting Principal, Dr Anthony Pilkington, the Fellows and all
the staff in Jesus College have given me during my Vice-Chancellorship. None
has provided more support than my college secretary, Mrs Geraldine Peissel,
who has had to cope with the continuing miscellany of my `other' life. Finally,
it is right that I publicly record my debt to my wife. The life of a Vice-
Chancellor is at times hectic, stressful, and demanding, as well as at other
times being exciting, invigorating and rewarding. I am particularly grateful to
her for her help and support when times have been more difficult, and for
being able to share with her the excitement and the interest that is the whole
of the job. Indeed, the University owes her a debt not least for all that she
has done to support its links with Oxonians scattered across the world on the
various demanding foreign visits we have made together. I thank her very
warmly, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of the University at
large.

And now for the future. I have come to rely over the past two years on
the skilful perception and wise advice of the Master of Balliol, Dr Colin Lucas.
The next four years will bring its challenges, but I have no doubt that he will
guide the University with both dexterity and soundness of judgement to the
post-Dearing and, indeed, post-North Commission world. I wish him every
success and enjoyment as our 271st Vice-Chancellor.

7 October 1997