Archive for July 8, 2016

The UK after the Referendum: All That Is Solid Melts Into Air…..

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2016 by telescoper

This piece makes some important comments.


The EU referendum result came as a shock to just about everyone, including the leaders of the “Leave” campaign (and me).

The aftershocks of this earthquake in British politics are still being felt.

Three of the central antagonists – the Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of “Leave” Boris Johnson and leader of UKIP Nigel Farage – have all ‘resigned’. The leader of the Opposition is clinging onto office by his fingernails.

These individual dramas and excitements are, however, mere sideshows.

The real tragedy is the way the British constitution has been turned on its head.

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Farewell to the HOSG!

Posted in Biographical on July 8, 2016 by telescoper

As the date of my departure from the University of Sussex approaches, I find myself doing various things here for the last time. Last night’s valedictory event was a dinner at Pelham House in Lewes with some of the other Heads of School at the University of Sussex. There are 12 Schools altogether (including Brighton & Sussex Medical School, which belongs both to the University of Sussex and the nearby University of Brighton). The Heads of these Schools form a group, imaginatively called the Heads of Schools Group (or HOSG for short).

The Heads of School meet on a regular basis to discuss matters of mutual interest (and, more importantly to share juicy gossip). Once a term they meet for a dinner too, and the latest those events was last night.

As it happens two other Heads of School are stepping down at roughly the same time as me: Tom Healy (English) and Brian Hudson (Education and Social Work), so last night’s dinner was a leaving do of a sort, in which the nearly departed (including myself) were given gifts and made short speeches. More importantly, we had a sumptuous meal, excellent conversation in the very pleasant setting of the “Panelled Room”.

Here’s a picture of me unwrapping my gifts. The charming hat, which I am wearing in what I am told is the correct style, is one of the presents I got. That’s Tom Ormerod in the background.


I won’t miss the administrative side of my current job and am looking forward to concentrating a bit more on the things I think I’m better at, i.e. teaching and research, but I will miss the chance to converse with academics from different fields and find out what happens on the other side of various disciplinary boundaries. A few weeks ago, for example, I was the independent Chair of an interview panel for lecturers in drama for the School of English, an opportunity that came my way because of my position as a Head of School. It was great fun, and I’m very glad that a couple of very good appointments were made.

More generally, it’s always been a pleasure to see things from the perspective of other academic fields through the Head of School’s group. Many of the difficulties we face are common to all disciplines, but sometimes changes in policy or process have a disproportionate effect on some subjects. When the HOSG has had to come together to support one another it has always done so, and long may that collegiate spirit continue.

I’d like therefore to end this piece by saying a very public “thank you” to Diane Mynors (Engineering & Informatics) who is currently Head of the Heads of Schools Group (Capo di Tutti Capi) for organizing last night’s dinner and to all those who came for making it such a pleasant evening.

I’d also like to thank all the Heads of School by name for being such great colleagues over the years: Tom Healy (English); Brian Hudson (ESW); Laurence Pearl (Life Sciences); Tom Ormerod (Psychology), Andrea Cornwall (Global Studies); Tim Jordan (Media Film & Music); Steven McGuire (Business, Management and Economics); Diane Mynors (Engineering and Informatics); Clive Webb (History, Art History & Philosophy); Andrew Sanders (Law, Politics and Sociology); and Malcolm Reed (BSMS).

Best wishes to you all for the future!