College in Crisis.

March 1st 2009 - latest news.
An update from the Lampeter Society - a letter from the Society and the Position Statement.

December 16th 2008 - latest comments.
Document following up on the Alumni Weekend at Lampeter.

October 23rd 2008 - latest comments.
Mr Jopling has penned a paper on the current crisis, and Mr Fonow has responded.

October 14th 2008.
Details of the Alumni weekend: email from Emma Evans and Peter Bosley, a supporting mail from Peter, the agenda and booking form. The better the turnout the more influence we will have!

For Clubs attending the Alumni weekend, the Gentlemen of the Club in Coll have arranged a fine dinner at the King's Head on Friday 5th December - please email Andy Holdsworth before the end of November if you are planning to attend.

For those who cannot make it, Peter and Pushka have the excellent suggestion of writing to Alfred Morris (the interim VC) or to Brinley Jones (President of the UWL Council) to express their concern about and support for the survival of University of Wales, Lampeter as an entity (whether stand-alone or in some kind of partnership/merger with Trinity Carmarthen).
Either or both can be reached through this address: c/o University of Wales Lampeter, Lampeter, Ceredigion†SA48 7ED
Thanks to Mick for forwarding this update on developments at Lampeter - and apologies to all for taking a while to put it on the web. I've edited some of the email addresses out - please contact me if you want to mail someone.

Mick also noted that there is a new website being set up at - still under construction but hopefully online soon.
Simon Hobson has contacted me re a "brainstorming" weekend at Lampeter organised by the Lampeter Society - see the draft agenda - open to all alumni, whether Society members or not.
This will take place over the weekend of December 5th-7th. and is aimed at reviving the college - Simon notes I cannot emphasise how speed is of the essence if we are to revive the college: every day matters!

RMO Andy Holdsworth has bent his brain to this problem - please read and comment before the missive from the Club to the College is finalised.. Click here to reply to the RMO or here to post on this site.

Note there is another site running on this issue set up by Robert Prior - it's good to see College rallying to the cause!

Mr Fonow and Mr Hobson have opened this discussion following serious developments in Lampeter and UWL.
Contributions from:
Tom Billinge.
More from Simon Hobson

Copy of an email from UWL to students.
Lampeter Society Position Statement.
Copy of the President's and Acting VC's letter to staff c. 25 Aug

Bob Fonow writes:

Lampeterís Current Crisis

In my twenty years working with distressed organizations the most difficult problems arise with an intelligent chief executive with insufficient talent for management or leadership. Their organizations eventually crash. The signs are there Ė often early in a management regime - but no one wants to admit to them. After all the person has executive authority, seems bright, and always has a new plan to replace the one that failed last quarter, or last term, or last year. The person is often protected by a coterie of second tier executives with an interest in his or her survival. This process has been underway at Lampeter for several years. The end game is near, new leadership will result, unfortunately after much damage.

The HEFCW describes what we all know and what the press in now reporting. The College management is a self-referential closed shop in a deepening crisis and consequently making panicked and erratic decisions about the future. The stress is mounting and the effects are obvious. See my attached letters from 2004 and one from June 2007. Reading the responses from Lampeter senior executives to the 2004 letter at the 16 Club Returnerís website home page is instructive.

Typically in a distressed organization people are misplaced in positions for which they have no appropriate training or aptitude, confused decision making processes, a general sense of anger, and management illness. When I visit Lampeter I hear of people becoming ill and retiring, or taking extended leave. The Vice Chancellor is on sick leave? The pro VC is out on sick leave? The College is being run by a person with no experience managing an institution - and one who might be reminded that there are no secrets in Lampeter. All of this is standard in a troubled institution.

Organizations can be effective only when the leaders have the support of their constituent groups. It seems that the College management is at war with the academic staff. Most of the administrative staff underneath the top layer of management have been complaining about cavalier treatment for years. Iím advised that the students are preparing to erupt when term begins. It is obvious to me that the College is on the threshold of a major regime change.

What happens next? Several groups and individuals have written strategy documents for Lampeter that have been not been implemented, though some of the ideas may have been entertained. I have written two of these documents in the last ten years, one a joint contribution with Peter Allison and The Lampeter Society, when the College was considering a merger with Trinity College. All of these plans need to be aggregated and reviewed. We must assure that alumni concerns and ideas become part of the selection process for a new Principal. This is important because Lampeter is unique and its former students have the best feel for its uniqueness

Below are several ideas that I think are important for Lampeter going forward. I hope to read the ideas of others by return.

First is the need to return to the concept of Principalship. The experiment of the Vice Chancellor as CEO has failed. Lampeter is a small college. It functions best as a community, not a business enterprise. A Principal reestablishes a leadership role consistent with the foundation of the College as an ethical community. This is a first priority and I say this as a turnaround manager in several countries working with some very nasty people in Iraq, Wall Street, Russia and China. There is nothing starry eyed about this as every graduate of SDUC will confirm. Ethical community and a consequent sense of being a principled graduate are the very essence of Lampeter and at one time was deeply instilled in its students, graduates and staff. I donít believe that the current administrators understand this or cares much about it. Returning to the historical form of management will also help to resolve many of the interdepartmental conflicts and odd academic policies that have resulted in the last few years.

Second, Lampeter cannot remain dependent only on state support. Ten years ago, and five years ago, I recommended that Lampeter build a fundraising organization. Itís not easy. Iíve heard people say that itís not worth the effort since Lampeter graduates would only send a fiver. Maybe so, but we have to start somewhere. There are a large number of successful Lampeter graduates who have incomes that will support a donation if they are asked. Since I graduated in 1979 I havenít received one fundraising letter telling me something new or important about the College and why I should donate. I get one letter a month from the LSE, my postgraduate school, where I was invited to become a ďBeaverĒ. Who could resist?

Relying on the State leaves the College dependent on the vagaries of a fickle political system. Also, thereís a finite limit to cutting costs in any organization. Revenue growth is a marketing task. Why is Lampeter still struggling with marketing? There were many years early in my career as a sales director in London that I wished for a product as attractive and distinctive as Lampeter. Regrettably, there is a failure of the marketing imagination at Lampeter which may reflect the pinched management style of the front office.

Third, Lampeterís religious foundation requires that attention be given to a solid Theology program However, the Theology and Religious Studies Departments have become too large in relation to the mission of the college to produce graduates with a balanced Humanities education. Itís growth appears to have come at the expense of other departments. This is not a healthy development, and one of the difficult roles of a new Prinicipal will be to rebalance the curricula. A strong fundraising program, perhaps accompanied by endowed chairs in other departments, will provide more flexibility in appointments.

Fourth, many of you know that I am especially distraught over the state of athletics and other extra curricular activities at Lampeter. Another reason we need private fundraising is to fix the hockey pitch, get the cars off the tennis and basketball courts so students can use them again, and support the cultural and musical groups the need a little money to operate effectively.

Finally, Lampeter graduates must be on the selection process for a new Principle or whatever the person must be called. We have a right to be involved, since the value of degrees reflects a life long investment. We have watched the equity of a Lampeter degree decline for too long.

I often think that the College will not be improved until there is a Lampeter graduate as the Principal. This is really no more that a personal opinion, and a feeling, based on my observation that the College needs a period of repair and reflection before another outsider without a deep understanding of Lampeter takes charge. Lampeter has graduated a number of individuals with strong university academic and management experience who are up to the challenge.

It would be helpful now to set up a method for exchanging ideas among the different groups with an interest in the well being and improvement of Lampeter. We have at this point an opportunity to share in the future development of the College, its roles, goals, and responsibilities.

Reference: Lampeter Last Again.

Very best wishes,

Bob Fonow

Simon writes:
Dear Friends,
As you may already be aware, the college in Lampeter is presently in real trouble and is currently facing a crisis at least as deep as any in its history. The attached document from the College's stand-in management committee and the press references I have pasted below give a flavour of the situation. The Quality Assurance Agency and HEFCW (who distribute public funds to Welsh higher education institutions) have both made very critical reports in the last year which have in part contributed to a current situation where there is: (a) currently no functioning university management team; (b) a very gloomy financial picture; (c) less than healthy industrial relations; and not least (d) - barring an exceptional outcome from the Clearing process - a situation where the recruitment and enrolment of Lampeter resident undergraduate students is likely to be exceptionally low at the start of next term. The hopes and impressions many had of improving fortunes at the college during the most recent few years have now essentially been turned on their head, and substantial restructuring is very likely. For obvious reasons you won't read any of this on the College's website, but nevertheless the situation is thus.

Nevertheless, despite these darkening skies, the Lampeter Society and others are determined that the college and its liberal arts mission is viable and can and should survive and prosper. Everything that we know it offers people should be there for future generations to enjoy, just as we have, however this will need your help and the help of everyone who cares about the college and the town.

The Lampeter Society has agreed a position statement for presentation to the UWL Council and then other influential bodies which contains a set of positions which it believes represent the views of the majority of Lampeter graduates. This document will shortly be available and I would urge you to study it and think how you can help, and encourage others to help, in whatever ways you can, both formally and informally.

I should like to draw your attention to the on-line petition that Jason has organised and will be administering. It is aimed at gauging opinion on the resurrection of the use of St David in the title of the institution for reasons that are set out in the e-mail below.

Please would you sign this petition if you are in agreement and then forward this e-mail to people connected with Lampeter who you know, and encourage them to do likewise.

Press References:

Times Higher Ed
BBC News
Wales Online 1
Wales Online 2

Best wishes
Simon Hobson

Additional information from Simon:
This appeared on the BBC's Website this morning.
If the Council meeting today confirms the redundancies go ahead, it could cause a strike by the University and College Union and UCU union members across the UK have been asked to support them.
The redundancies are a bad situation, however in my view it is very difficult to see how the cost savings and restructurings that are needed can be achieved without reducing expenditure from Lampeter's revenue income, and in higher education staff costs are by far and away the highest outlay.

Tom Billinge writes:
Dear All
I have to echo Bobís very concise and constructive note. I work for the very functional and well oiled machine that is Cambridge University. I have been brought up within the Cambridge system of doing things since I was very young, as my father has been a lecturer, tutor since the seventies and is now development director of Magdalene College.

In this time I have seen many changes in the way that the University has dealt with funding issues. The two buzz words which have been going round over the last ten years are ĎAlumnií and ĎDevelopmentí. The University and colleges realised about a decade ago that you cannot rely on state funding alone.

A few colleges did not need to worry (Some having large assets in real estate etc), but now all of the colleges and the University itself have separate and dedicated ĎAlumni and Developmentí offices. It is a crucial part of fundraising.

Magdalene, my fatherís college has a modest intake each year, with perhaps 500 students in residence in any given academic year. Yet in the last year, he has raised £13 million for the college through appeals, telethons and alumni events. This money comes primarily from the Alums, either by way of one off donations, yearly subscriptions or bequests in alumni wills.

It is a matter of making the alumni aware that they can and should give a little back to the alma mater that nurtured them so well in their youth. It is also a good idea to produce a quality alumni magazine (and college based gifts for the big givers) to give them something back for their money!

Now, you may say that Lampeter is not as old or large as Cambridge University, and you would be correct. However, Magdalene College is smaller than Lampeter and, lets face it, if you were at college in the early part of the last century, you will probably not be around today Ė so in many ways the age is irrelevant and Lampeter is on an equal footing regarding this matter - if one small college in Cambridge with a dedicated development team can raise £13 million in one year, then Lampeter can raise six.

The other money making scheme deployed in Cambridge is conferencing. Lampeter is not going to make any serious money on this front, so I think that the conferencing option is one that should play second fiddle to alumni relations. The problem with conferences is that you need absolutely state of the art facilities to attract the big spenders. Also, Lampeter is a little out of the way for the big players Ė many being London/South of England based.

All of this in many ways may be too little too late though, as further education is a very big sea these days and it is filled with many larger predators. It has become a fight for survival and Lampeter will have to grow some big teeth very so it does not become fodder for the predators.

Let us pray for a resolution to this matter in these dark times.


Tom Billinge

Chairman of the 16 club 2000-01

Mr Thomas Billinge
Gates Cambridge Trust
Trinity College

Any messages from Clubs (or old Lampetrians) will be posted here - please click on the poster's name to read their contribution. Please mail me if you would like to make an entry.