University Agenda

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[Note. An asterisk denotes a reference to a previously published or recurrent entry.]

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The meeting of Congregation is cancelled. The sole business comprises questions to which no opposition has been notified and in respect of which no request for an adjournment has been received, and Mr Vice-Chancellor will accordingly declare the preambles adopted and the special resolutions carried without a meeting under the provisions of Tit. II, Sect. iii, cl. 11 (Statutes, 1995, p. 8).

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CONGREGATION 5 November 2 p.m.

1 Presentation of Vice- Chancellor's Oration

The Oration delivered by Mr Vice-Chancellor on 8 October will be presented and may be discussed.

¶ The text of the Oration will shortly be published as a Supplement to the Gazette. Unless at least two members of Congregation have severally or jointly given notice in writing to the Registrar by noon on Monday, 28 October, that they wish to discuss or to ask a question about the Oration under the provisions of Tit. II, Sect XI, cl. 4 (Statutes, 1995, p. 18; Examination Decrees, 1996, p. 1091), or unless the meeting on 5 November is required to deal with other business, Mr Vice-Chancellor will cancel the meeting under the provisions of Tit. II, Sect. III, cl. 11 (Statutes, 1995, p. 8; Examination Decrees, 1996, p. 1083).

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2 Voting on Special Resolution allocating a site

Explanatory note to Special Resolution

Following the recommendations of a committee chaired by Sir Claus Moser in 1988, Congregation passed a resolution in December 1990 (Gazette, vol. cxxi, p. 384) approving a major expansion of Management Studies in Oxford. The School of Management Studies was established in 1992 and the first Director of the School, Dr Clark Brundin, was appointed in October 1992. Since then the University has been actively implementing the plan. Three professors and twenty university lecturers have been appointed, associated with sixteen colleges. A new joint undergraduate honours course with Economics has been introduced, a postgraduate research programme in Management Studies is being developed, and the MBA commences this term. The munificent benefaction offered by Mr Wafic Said will enable the University to provide the facilities which are now urgently needed. Council and the General Board seek Congregation's approval for the provision of the necessary site.

The special resolution below releases for this purpose part of the Mansfield Road sports ground and provides for the transfer of approximately 2.1 acres, being the western part of the sports ground, to the Wafic Rida Said Business School Foundation if planning consent for the building is secured. This area will accommodate a building of some 12,500 sq.m., which is sufficient to meet the present needs and planned development of the school. In recommending this allocation the Buildings Committee noted that the remainder of the sports ground would be big enough to continue to provide some of the sports facilities now available on the site; this aspect of the proposals is considered further below in the section headed `Sports facilities'.

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Plans for the development of Management Studies

The 1990 plans for the expansion of Management Studies envisaged the introduction of an MBA course with up to 300 students, an expansion in the numbers taking the highly successful courses in Engineering or Materials, Economics, and Management, the introduction of a new Joint Honour School of Economics and Management, consolidation of existing graduate courses in Management, and, with Templeton College, a substantial development of post-experience programmes. Postgraduate activities, including the MBA, would be accommodated on the Templeton site and undergraduate activities in the centre of Oxford. It was clear that significant external funding of between £35m and £40m would be required to support this expansion.

Since Congregation agreed these plans, and as staff have been recruited to the school, the scheme has evolved. The main change is the decision that postgraduate as well as undergraduate facilities should be in the centre of Oxford (see below). While this has slightly increased the building costs, which have risen also as a consequence of inflation, the total cost of the development has changed little, £20m being required for the building and £20m for the endowment of posts. That was the target set as part of the Campaign for Oxford, shortly after Congregation's decision in 1990.

Of the fifty or so faculty members then judged to be needed to support the full plans for the school, about half are now in post. The Honour School of Economics and Management has enjoyed much success, and is currently one of the University's most oversubscribed courses. The first cohort of MBA students has been admitted: again recruitment is buoyant, and forty-nine students, associated with twenty colleges and all with first-rate academic backgrounds, have taken up places against the target of forty. Eighty places will be offered next year. Teaching for the MBA will take place in the school's temporary accommodation in the Radcliffe Infirmary, where an MBA teaching centre with its own IT and library and information facilities has been established.

In addition to teaching, a primary objective behind establishing the school has been to undertake research of international distinction. The school is introducing a new doctoral programme which will prepare students in Management Studies for academic positions in the top business schools. It is creating substantial research centres in the fields of international business and the management of technological innovation. These will be interdisciplinary and will be organised in conjunction with several other faculties in Oxford, embracing, for example, Economics, Politics, Science, and Engineering.

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The benefaction

Mr Wafic Rida Said is already a substantial benefactor of the University, as is his wife; both are members of the Chancellor's Court of Benefactors. Mr Said has now pledged £20m for the Said Business School. £18m of Mr Said's donation is to be used for a new building. The balance of £2m is to be used to form the nucleus of an endowment for use by the new foundation which it is proposed to establish (see below) for development purposes, including the augmentation of the salaries of those holding senior academic appointments in the school, an arrangement considered necessary to ensure the world-class standing of the school. The school will be renamed the Said Business School but it is not proposed to change the titles of existing courses in Management Studies or of academic posts in the school, and the academic focus of the school will be unchanged. Mr Said has made clear that his benefaction would be available only for Management Studies, reflecting his strongly held view that for the improvement of Britain's economic performance there needs to be both a genuine partnership between business and universities, and a new style of business school. He sees the proposals agreed by Congregation in 1990 as an opportunity to create such a school, and supports the University's aim of establishing Management Studies as an academic subject fully integrated into its structure, and involving the same intellectual challenges as any other applied academic discipline. The school will train those who will be the leaders of major companies and public bodies in Britain and overseas, and students, whatever their discipline or career intentions, will find Management Studies both rigorous and challenging.

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Matching funds

As stated above, the costs of realising the 1990 plans for Management Studies were from the outset estimated to be in the region of £40m. Mr Said's benefaction has been offered on the basis that the University will be successful in its aim to raise the remaining £20m, of which £2m is represented by the value of the site. The benefactor has not required the University to raise any more money than envisaged but has set a specific timetable for doing it. Some concern has been expressed about the so-called matching funding, and it is important for Congregation to be clear what this means. The University has made considerable progress in meeting the target set in 1990, in that £8m has already been raised. This includes endowments for the Peter Moores Directorship, the Peter Moores Professorship, two Rhodes Lecturerships, the American Standard Companies Professorship, The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Professorship, and one other professorship, details of which are still being finalised. Taking account of the value of the site therefore, £10m of the £20m required has already been secured.

It is a condition of the benefaction that £2m of the outstanding £10m must be available by the completion of the building, and the remaining £8m within a further five years from that date. There is every confidence that this will be achieved. If by the completion of the building the University has not raised the whole of the £8m it will be expected to make available the income which would have been generated by the missing sum until such time as the full balance is raised, a level of provision which in any case was planned under the original proposals. No guarantee can be given that this will not have to be done, but Council is confident that, following the publication of Mr Said's benefaction, the remaining endowment will be secured. Mr Said has no objection to particular parts of the building being named after other donors, and it is expected that a significant level of outside funding can be raised in this way.

As regards the recurrent finances of the project, when the development of the subject was approved by Congregation in 1990 it was on the basis that, in the steady state, an annual surplus would be generated. Since then the General Board has continued to fund all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, with some increase in provision in recognition of growth in undergraduate and graduate student numbers. The MBA will, as originally planned, be self-funding. Cautious projections were prepared in Trinity Term 1996 which did not take account of the effect of the proposed benefaction and were in various respects pessimistic. These show that, allowing for an overhead paid to the University which should reach some £300K per annum in a steady state (equivalent to the estimated running costs of the proposed new building), the MBA will be making an annual surplus by 1997–8 and should pay off all accumulated start-up costs both on the MBA account and on the school generally by 2004–5 at the latest. These figures do not take account of any of the benefits of income from the endowment of further posts. Neither the introduction of the MBA and the consequential expansion of the school, nor the running of the new building, will in the longer term be a call on university funds.

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The foundation

The benefaction entails the establishment of the Wafic Rida Said Business School Foundation. The trustees of the foundation are the Vice-Chancellor as chairman, three university representatives appointed by him (who are at present the Master of Balliol, Dr Brundin, and Sir Bruce MacPhail as chairman of the Council of the School of Management Studies), the benefactor, and five trustees appointed by Mr Said, subject to the Vice-Chancellor's approval. The latter are Lord Alexander of Weedon (chairman of the NatWest Group of Companies), Mr Robert Genillard (a Swiss financier and industrialist), Professor William Pounds (formerly Dean of the Sloan School of Management, MIT), Sir Charles Powell (Director of Jardine Matheson), and Ms Catherine Roe (Director of the Karim Rida Said Foundation).

Under the agreement with Mr Said the foundation's approval (such approval not to be unreasonably withheld) will be required for the appointment of Directors of the school. The foundation has wholeheartedly endorsed the recent decision of the electoral board for the Peter Moores Directorship of the School and Professorship of Management Studies to offer the appointment to Professor John Kay. Professor Kay, whose appointment was recently announced, will take up the directorship, with a fellowship of St Edmund Hall, on 1 January 1997. He is currently chairman of London Economics and Visiting Professor at the London Business School.

The building

The building is to be constructed by, and remain the property of, the foundation. It is proposed that the site be transferred to the foundation as part of the matching funding for the project, but there will be covenants attached to the transfer which will prevent the foundation from using the site for other than university purposes and which will require the foundation to sell the property back to the University, and the University to buy it, if the building is no longer required for Management Studies or some other purpose agreed between the University and the foundation. The building will be managed and maintained in the same way as any other university building. The architects have been selected following an international competition organised by the foundation and on the advice of a panel of assessors (including Lord Rothschild, Sir Philip Powell, Mr Colin Amery, and Dr Brundin), a selection process in which the Vice-Chancellor, the Master of Balliol, and the President of Magdalen (as a member, with the Vice-Chancellor, of the foundation's buildings committee) have participated; representatives of the school have also been fully involved. The firm selected is Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones.

In commissioning a designer there has been no presumption that the allocation of the site would be a formality on the part of either the University or the City Planning Authority. It was judged, however, that a necessary condition for the allocation of the site would be a design for a building worthy of the architectural heritage of the University and the city and fully appropriate for such a sensitive site. The designs are continuing to undergo refinement and will be exhibited, for comment by members of the University, the City Council, and the general public, in the fortnight preceding the meeting of Congregation.

The site

The decision to concentrate the activities of the school in central Oxford, as strongly recommended by the first director (Dr Brundin) and supported by the academic staff and others concerned, has been reflected in the arrangements for temporary accommodation, first in offices in St Giles' and now in converted space in the Radcliffe Infirmary. The wishes of the benefactor that the building for Management Studies should be on a significant and central site thus complemented the process of planning which had gone on over the previous four or five years. As a result, on the one hand, of the reappraisal of the MBA and the implications this has had for the profile of the school and, on the other, of the wishes of the benefactor, the viability of a number of alternative sites was explored. These included:

(a) the Radcliffe Infirmary site. This was initially the preferred site, but prospects of acquiring it were uncertain and have increasingly become so, and in any case acquisition would be at a date too far into the future to be appropriate. It was thought also that the scale and flexibility of that site offered opportunities for a whole range of disciplines (including scientific laboratories, which would not be permitted on the Mansfield Road site) which should not be pre-empted by a development for Management Studies;

(b) the former Wolsey Hall site, which the University had attempted unsuccessfully to purchase in 1989. This was considered on the untested assumption that the University would be able to acquire it; however, it was found to offer insufficient space for the erection of the desired new building;

(c) 2–4 South Parks Road, which, if St Mary's Vicarage could be acquired, would have been sufficient, at least for a first phase of development, but which had been earmarked for a considerable time for development for the sciences;

(d) a number of sites which might have been available in association with colleges. All of these, however, for one reason or another lacked sufficient space or a suitable environment for a purpose-built building of the scale and architectural significance required; and

(e) the Mansfield Road sports ground, which, however, had long been assumed destined to remain an open space.

As Congregation will be aware, a working party chaired by the Master of Balliol is currently reviewing all the University's sites. However, in view of the timing of the benefaction and the need to meet the development requirements of Management Studies as agreed in 1990, it has been necessary to consider a site in advance of the report of the working party. Following review of the sites in (a)–(e) above, it has been concluded that, notwithstanding evident difficulties, the Mansfield Road sports ground is the only site which could accommodate a building on the scale required for existing and planned academic developments. If additional growth were needed at a later stage, the University would be obliged to use its best endeavours to secure a nearby site, although such a need seems unlikely in the foreseeable future. The Mansfield Road site has the additional advantage of being in close proximity to the St Cross site, where further development for the Social Studies Faculty, which includes a number of disciplines closely linked with Management Studies, is in train.

The Mansfield Road sports ground is part of a site purchased by the University from Merton College in 1964 primarily for the extension of the Science Area. At the time of purchase it was planned to build on the northern section (now occupied by Zoology/Psychology, Virology, and more recently Pharmacology) and to retain the southern portion as a playing field or green space. The purchase followed a report by Sir William Holford, who had been commissioned by the University, at the suggestion of Merton, to advise on how the needs of the University's science departments over the next twenty or more years could best be met. After consultation with all interests concerned, Sir William recommended that the University should seek to acquire from Merton the houses in South Parks Road and the playing fields, and that after building and boundary lines had been settled the remainder of Merton Playing Fields should be included in the University Parks. Sir William rejected the argument that the whole of Merton Playing Fields should be held in reserve for future science buildings, saying that he believed the remainder of the playing fields should be kept in perpetuity as open space: `The preservation of open space here would have practical as well as aesthetic compensations, in relation to such matters as density, give-and-take improvements to present boundaries, and the nature of future development to the west and south of it' (Supplement (4) to Gazette No. 3157, 23 May 1963, p. 1257).

The city welcomed the Holford recommendations in May 1963, and though the whole of the playing fields had been designated for university use, it was made clear to the City Architect that the University proposed to work to the Holford recommendations and to limit development to the area north of the `Holford line'.

The matter was debated in Congregation on 18 June 1963 on the basis of a resolution that Council should be instructed to enter into negotiations with Merton College on the understanding that the southern part of Merton Playing Fields would be included in the University Parks, a resolution which was accepted. In 1965, in the context of a discussion in Congregation about a possible scheme for an underground car park under Merton Playing Fields, the undertakings into which the University had entered following on from the Holford Report were firmly reiterated (see Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 3271, 4 April 1966, p. 893) and endorsed.

Some thirty years on, however, circumstances have changed. The northern section is now full, apart from a small site currently reserved for the Brain and Behaviour Project and the future redevelopment of the Halifax House site, now used by the University Club. The University has decided to develop Management Studies, perhaps its most significant academic development since the decisions of the 1930s and 1940s to develop Clinical Medicine, but cannot do so without significant external funding. The combination of academic development and the opportunity provided by the benefaction has required a re-examination of the decisions of thirty years ago. Clearly a decision to develop the playing field (subject to planning permission) should not be taken lightly. Although there are no legally binding conditions restricting or preventing the future development, Council and the General Board recognise that when Merton agreed to sell the site to the University it did so in the knowledge that Congregation had agreed to the purchase on the clear and explicit understanding that the southern part of the field would remain open space. It is acknowledged that Merton's reluctant decision to part with the land was taken in the University's interest in order to permit rational development of the Science Area and as part of a package involving in addition the original site of St Cross College, the premises now occupied by Linacre College, and a donation by the college towards the new graduate colleges, which together represented a major act of generosity towards the University.

Inevitably the choice of the Mansfield Road site raises substantial concerns. That site is proposed because it provides adequate space, because it is central, and because its physical characteristics enable a design of the kind envisaged by the benefactor to be realised. Council and the General Board have been persuaded by these arguments. They are conscious also, however, of the sensitivity of the site and, of course, of the concerns which members of Congregation and in due course, if the site is allocated, the City Council, with which there will be full and detailed consultation, will have with regard to the loss of open space. However, Council and the General Board are encouraged by the `green' aspects of the architects' drawings. The architects themselves have in their proposal made a commitment to `give a garden back to Oxford'.

Sports facilities

The construction of the new Business School building will entail the demolition of the Mansfield Road pavilion and the loss of about half the playing area. The space remaining after allowance for the new building will be sufficient for the replacement of the existing tennis courts and changing facilities and for one football pitch. Discussions, which were initiated as soon as the constraints of confidentiality were lifted, are continuing to be held with the Committee for the University Club and other interested parties on the reprovision of the sports facilities which will be lost. Much very understandable concern has been expressed by members of the club at the prospective loss of existing facilities. The University is fully committed to the provision of sports facilities for its staff and sees this as an opportunity to address the whole issue of club facilities with which it has been concerned for many years. It aims to ensure that the club can provide better social facilities than at present. The proposals of the club's management committee for replacement of a club building and sports facilities are being actively pursued along with other options.

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Congregation supported proposals for the establishment of a business school in Oxford in 1990, and since then the School of Management Studies has been actively implementing those proposals. There is every prospect that a school of international distinction can be established which will make a substantial academic and financial contribution to the wider University. The successful completion of that process depends on the availability of appropriate infrastructure, and in particular a building. The benefaction from Mr Said provides the University with a unique opportunity for realising its plans in full. Council and the General Board have not forgotten the view which Congregation took in 1963 on the use of the site, and they accept that they are now inviting Congregation to take a different view. They would not have proposed the development of this site for a small-scale project or for an inadequately designed building. However, for the development of a major new academic activity where the generosity of a benefactor makes it possible to provide a building worthy of the site, it seems to Council and the General Board that the proposal is justified.

In the light of the above, Council and the General Board ask Congregation to approve the following special resolution.

Note. The following was published in the Gazette of 17 October: The beginning of the special resolution set out below includes words which have been added to the original version published on 10 October, Council having withdrawn the latter and substituted the following resolution in its place. The reason for this is that Council considers on further reflection that the resolution should state expressly that the relevant decision taken by Congregation on the Holford Report in 1963, and endorsed by Congregation in 1966, was based on an understanding which should no longer have effect. The phrase `part of the Mansfield Road sports ground' has accordingly been deleted and the following words have been substituted: `, notwithstanding that Congregation authorised the purchase of what is now the Mansfield Road sports ground on the understanding that it should remain undeveloped, part of that land'.

Text of Special Resolution

That, notwithstanding that Congregation authorised the purchase of what is now the Mansfield Road sports ground on the understanding that it should remain undeveloped, part of that land be released for the development of the University's Business School and for that purpose a site of 2.1 acres, comprising the western part of the Mansfield Road sports ground, be transferred to the Wafic Rida Said Business School Foundation for the construction of a building for the school if planning consent for the building is given.

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