Gloucestershire vice-chancellor steps down

Broadfoot says institution is ‘on the road to recovery’ as she announces early retirement. Melanie Newman reports

The vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, Patricia Broadfoot, is to take early retirement.

Although she is stepping down with immediate effect, passing executive duties to the deputy vice-chancellor, Paul Hartley, she will not retire until 1 August.

She will spend her final term in an “ambassadorial role”.

In a message to staff on 25 March, the vice-chancellor said: “Despite recent problems, the university is now firmly positioned on the road to recovery and I feel it is the right time for me to step down and for a new leader, perhaps with a different set of skills to meet changing times, to take the university forward through the next stage of its development.”

She added: “The university is now well positioned as a leader in innovative, high-quality teaching and learning; in the sustainability agenda; in working with employers and in public engagement.”

Gloucestershire also has “an ambitious new research strategy and a significant number of active new research centres”, she said.

Professor Broadfoot joined the university as vice-chancellor in September 2006. Her departure follows a period of financial difficulty. Last September the university put up for sale its London campus, which had been open for just seven months, following an £8.3 million refurbishment.

The Pittville campus at Cheltenham will also close.

In December, Paul Bowler, who had been drafted in to return the university to financial health, left his post as deputy vice-chancellor after a period of suspension. He had been in post seven months and was said to have publicly blamed Professor Broadfoot and other senior managers for the state of the finances. He also uncovered a £1.5 million “black hole” in the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Sciences’ accounts.

In its financial statements for 2008-09, released this week, the university shows a £6.3 million deficit and long-term borrowings of £31.5 million on an income of £67.4 million.

The statements say the deficit is a “disappointing result for the year” and blame an £8.9 million increase in net pension liability, increased staff costs and “slower than anticipated return on investment in new activities”. In addition, a voluntary redundancy programme in 2009 cost Gloucester £2.95 million.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com

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