Provost Roberts's Vision
The remarkable document below was issued to Heads of Departments on 3rd September 2002, shortly before Provost Roberts's conversion, over a cup of coffee with Rector Sykes, to the suppression of UCL.
As we now know, this Pauline epiphany meant that any vision of UCL's future, apart from that shared by the Dynamic Duo, was to be ruthlessly discarded - as the existence of any Plan B would threaten their monopoly of strategy.
It is however now time to restart the process, so wisely initiated but so foolishly forestalled, so that when Council defeats the merger proposals on 19th December, we may have something on which we may build our strong future. We would especially point out Provost Roberts's commitment, only a few weeks ago, to the College 'founders' pioneering vision', as well as his proposal 'that we should first agree our objective, then move on developing our strategy, and only after that is agreed would we move on to tactics and their operational implementation.'
We are grateful to Major Z. Contributor (of the Advanced Back-Pedaling Research Group, The Railtrack Memorial Department, Faculty of Railroading (defunct)), for making this document available to us. We append his comments to the document itself.
UCL and its Strategy
I sense a general desire that this should be re-examined, modified where necessary, and re-stated in a form that can be shared by all UCL's “stakeholders” - staff; students; alumni; Friends and Benefactors; customers - including HMG, and partners in academic collaborations.
The attached note is a discussion document intended to initiate this process.
It is based on the principle that we should first agree our objective, then move on developing our strategy, and only after that is agreed would we move on to tactics and their operational implementation.
I ask all recipients of this note to let me have their comments by 31 October 2002.
Sir Derek Roberts
Provost and President
1 September 2002
Heads of Departments
Note to HoDs:
Please discuss this with your colleagues.
Role/Vision: Understanding the past; challenging the present; shaping the future.
Objectives: UCL is committed to translating its excellence in research and teaching into the furthering of economic prosperity, scientific advance, and improvements to health culture and society.
UCL's commitment to excellence and innovation is central to this vision. It intends to be:
One of the greatest metropolitan universities in the world, serving local, national and international needs;
A world leader in teaching, scholarship and research across the sciences and arts;
At the forefront in tackling humanity's environmental, healthcare and communication challenges;
True to its founders' pioneering vision by providing educational opportunities of the highest quality to all capable of benefiting, regardless of background.
In pursuit of these objectives UCL will continue to build on partnerships with industry and the professions; with local and national governments; with other academic centres of excellence, and with its network of former students.
UCL's primary strategy follows inexorably from its commitment to the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research:
WE MUST ATTRACT, MOTIVATE and RETAIN THE BEST ACADEMIC STAFF and STUDENTS, and PROVIDE THE INFRASTRUCTURE IN WHICH THEY CAN OPERATE EFFECTIVELY.
Each Faculty and Department must develop for discussion its particular plans to contribute to UCL's primary strategy.
UCL's infrastructure strategy must embrace all aspects of:
Management and Governance (Central and devolved where relevant)
Estates (including maintenance)
Income generation, including Fundraising, exploitation of Intellectual Property, and full cost recovery on research.
Separate strategy statements will in due course be drafted for each of these areas.
Once we have total commitment to all aspects of our Institutional Strategy we can then develop implementation plans for each area. At that stage we must take full account of the changing external environment, particularly with regard to total income, which inevitably determines the timescale over which our strategy can be turned into actuality.
Sir Derek Roberts
Provost and President
3 September 2002
Major Contributor comments:
I, along with many others, consider that Sir Derek's "Vision" of entering into merger discussions with Imperial College has been a dangerously high-risk strategy. However, the response to this "Vision" has had (and will have) the following positive outcomes:
1) The issue of the funding crisis in Higher Education has received enormous media coverage and demands a political response.
2) UCL's "stakeholders" - staff, students, alumni, Friends, Benefactors, etc - have been motivated to speak up to educate the world regarding UCL's tradition and ethos.
3) UCL's reputation (or "brand-name") as a world-class "power-house" of multi- and inter-disciplinary creativity has been enhanced. This, I'm sure, will attract like-minded people: to study here as students; to work here as members of staff; and to contribute financially as benefactors.
We have "Understood the Past". We have "Challenged the Present". Let us now vow to continue to "Shape the Future".