University of life or school of hard knocks?

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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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There is nothing to smile about at Swansea University for Paul Boyle

A new appointment as Vice-Chancellor (VC) at a scandal-hit Welsh university has come under fierce attack from the lecturers’ union in his previous institution, The Eye can reveal.

Paul Boyle has just been named as the replacement VC at controversial Swansea University which employed a convicted fraudster exclusively exposed by The Eye, and where his predecessor has been sensationally suspended as an extraordinary investigation was launched amid an unprecedented internal dirty tricks campaign disclosed by us.

It is alleged Paul Boyle’s previous rule was a disaster

But soon after the news emerged, a newsletter was issued to lecturers at the institution where Professor Boyle was previously in charge, the University of Leicester, by the University and College Union (UCU), and he was accused of being a “failure”“calamitous”,as well as showing “disastrous” leadership.

Yesterday some of the disturbing information was revealed by our satirical writer Edwin Phillips, but the details paint an even more alarming picture.

Controversy swirls round Swansea University

The newsletter about Professor Boyle says his progress at Swansea University will be monitored where the institution is already in “turmoil”.

The turmoil is extensive.

On the very day it emerged that a fifth senior executive was under investigation at Swansea the underhand internal gmail campaign was stepped up.

The anonymous gmail campaign goes on

As before, the gmail was sent to the chair of the university’s council, Sir Roger Jones, as well as staff, and came from ‘Your friend’, although it had been delivered using yet another different created ‘address’, marked:  “The iniquities Of the selfish”.

It posed a series of tendentious questions to staff, including:  “Not even 17 weeks ago your university was tarnished beyond belief. And to what purpose? If there was criminality why are you footing the bill for an ever-expanding witch-hunt? It has got to the point where those who started must find something to justify their folly…”.

Certain journalists like Phil Parry on The Eye are not liked

During the campaign which is designed to undermine the top-level investigation at Swansea, many different gmail addresses have been used including ‘Saint Homobonus’, ‘Lilith Sumerian’ and ‘Ivs Titia’.

In part, one recent gmail to staff as well as the chair of the univerty’s council read:   “Why are these things happening and being leaked to Sion Barry (the Western Mail Business Editor) and, in turn, (our Editor) Phil Parry (someone trolling Professor Hillary {sic} Lappin-Scott (the Pro Vice-Chancellor {PVC}) whilst in the middle of an independent internal investigation?”.

Is it a ‘kangaroo court’ as said in the anonymous gmail campaign?

Another added:  “Appended below you can find the previous installments (American spelling) and alleges there has been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews – almost as if the facts were at odds with the desired outcome”. Although mis-spelt a further gmail was clear: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

Suspended former Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Richard Davies and the School of Management Dean Marc Clement are under investigation

In one of the internal gmails following revelations about a Kuwait project which forms part of the investigation and was headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a series of unlawful claims against a named individual were made, and among the few lines we can publish is:  “I am confident we should expect retaliation by the Kuwaitis”.

The Eye were the first to break the news that the unparalleled suspension of Professor Boyle’s predecessor, Professor Daviesas well as at the time three of his officials, and the astonishing investigation launched at the same time, was linked to a massive £200 million regeneration scheme called the Delta Lakes (Llanelli Wellness Village) City Deal.

Professors Clement (top middle) and Davies (bottom left) with other members of the’Wellness’ team

Apart from the ‘Wellness’ village, the university’s involvement in the enormous plan in Kuwait is also being examined. Senior officers are looking into a ‘joint venture’ in a £600 million proposal for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait, which aimed to attract 5,000 students. Professors Davies and Clement, were on the proposed academic board for the project and the controversial Carmarthenshire Council Chief Executive, Mark James, is listed as a trustee.

Steve Chan – a crook employed by Swansea University and exposed by The Eye went from strength to strength

But Swansea University is no stranger to bad headlines.

Our journalists have shown that Steven Chan, who officials had employed on a contract at its School of Management, was jailed for years in America after a massive fraud.

He had been imprisoned by a court in Boston for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation. His jail term was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud – he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

Chan spoke at a conference representing Swansea University

Yet on March 1 2016 Chan appeared as a panellist representing Swansea University at a St. David’s Day event in Brussels called Digital Destination:  Creating Value and Improving Lives’. The promotion before the conference said:  “Swansea University is delighted that Professor Steve Chan will take a leadership role in driving the Big Data agenda forward for Swansea University’s School of ManagementProfessor Steve Chan is the Chair of the Cyber Analytics and Network/Relationship Science Centre at Swansea University and the Chair of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things at Swansea University’s School of Management”.

University of Leicester – a ‘disastrous’ tenure?

Now this information revealed by The Eye from the UCU at new VC Professor Boyle’s previous institution will heap more coals on the fire at Swansea University.

The union’s newsletter comes in the form of 25 paragraphs of invective towards Professor Boyle and his legacy at the University of Leicester.

In part it states:  “One of … Boyle’s early acts was to instruct that henceforth all lectures, seminars and so on would start on the hour and finish at 50 minutes past the hour, replacing the customary start-at-five-past-and-finish-at-five-to arrangement. The new VC thought he had identified a problem – an incompatibility between teaching events and meetings, which were all scheduled to commence on the hour”.

Staff at the University of Leicester were not happy during Paul Boyle’s time

There was another change “… that has contributed to an increasingly deep distrust among staff of how Paul Boyle and his ‘University Leadership Team’ (ULT) have been spending our resources

“Academic cohesion and coherence have been badly damaged…Our sense of place has been destroyed…We are left with the pieces. And there are many to pick up.

Will Paul Boyle be looking over his shoulder?

“Boyle has gone. But the problems of which he was a symptom remain.”

It will be interesting now to see whether the problems at Swansea University continue.

Or get worse.

 

 

Order this book HERE

Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!

 

 

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