[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 114th meeting of Standing Committee

Saturday, 11th February, 2006, 11 a.m.

Room NG14, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.


  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Institute of Classical Studies and Library.
  3. Minutes of Last Meeting
  4. Matters Arising
  5. Chair's Report
  6. European Research Index in the Humanities
  7. Subject Centre
  8. QAA Benchmarking for Master's degrees
  9. Secretary's Business
  10. 10. Treasurer's Report
  11. Update from Webmaster
  12. Bulletin
  13. Statistics
  14. AOB
  15. Date of next meeting


Present: Graham Shipley (Leicester; Chair), Patty Baker (Kent; Treasurer), Philip Hardie (Oxford), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow; Elections), Jonathan Powell (RHUL), John Rich (Nottingham), James Robson (Open; Languages), John Morgan (Swansea), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter).

In attendance: Philip Burton (Birmingham; Acting Secretary); Michael Crawford (UCL; Chair, ICS Library Committee); Richard Williams (Durham; Subject Centre, vice Christopher Rowe).


1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Tim Cornell (Director, ICS), Mike Edwards (Deputy Director, ICS), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Peter Jones (Coordinating Committee for Classics), Gill Partington (JACT), Christopher Rowe (Durham; Subject Centre), and Susanna Phillippo (Newcastle upon Tyne).


2. Institute of Classical Studies and Library.

Prof. Crawford reported on behalf of the Director and Deputy Director.

Prof. Cornell had recently offered his resignation from the Directorship (with effect from the end of September) over issues of policy. The main issue behind this was finance and the management of the ICS library; a secondary issue was provision of space for the ICS following the rewiring of the South Block of Senate House.

In March 2003 the University of London decided on a policy of 'convergence' between its libraries; this decision was endorsed by the University Council, but its precise implications emerged only later, gradually, and partly by chance. The justification for convergence was the fact that there had been long-standing problems with the Senate House Library, largely funded by subscriptions from the London Colleges (this being largely an undergraduate library). It was said at the outset it was simply a matter of assuring HEFCE that money was spent wisely. The Library committee of the ICS had in any case always acted with precisely that motive in mind.

In Autumn 2003 it was decided by the University of London that the management of the budgets of the Institutes' libraries would be taken away from the various Institute Directors and consolidated into a single University of London Library budget under the control of the Director of University of London Research Library Services (ULRLS). Partially exempt from this were the libraries of the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. These were exempted on the grounds that they were located in separate buildings. In practice, both have a significant level of funding from outside the University (and the Warburg's Deed of Transfer provides that the Director shall be the Librarian). In these cases, management of the libraries' budgets would be devolved back to the Directors of the Institutes concerned.

It is not clear whether this policy was agreed by the Directors, or, if so, when. The view of Professor Mann (Dean of the School of Advanced Study and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Information Strategy) is that it was agreed in the autumn of 2003, but none of the Institute Directors then in post can remember being consulted on the issue. As for the ICS, a review panel was set up in 2003-4, chaired by Andrew Burnett, to review its position. This review panel, widely representative of the subject, made clear that the Library was the 'jewel in the crown' of the ICS, and recommended that the Librarian should continue to report to the Director. It also recommended the appointment of a permanent full-time director. When Professor Cornell was appointed in April 2004, neither he nor any of the members of the appointing committee was made aware that under the University's 'convergence strategy' the responsibility for running the Library would be taken away from him. He was told of the decision to remove the budget from his control in May 2005, and the decision was implemented in August despite strong protests from him and Professor Edwards.

During the same period, the University circulated a new Library management structure, according to which the Librarian of the Institute reports to the Director of Academic Services of the ULRLS, not to the ICS Director, contrary to the terms of Professor Cornell's appointment, to the recommendations of the Review Panel, and to a memorandum of Understanding that had been agreed with the Societies.

In June 2005 it was announced that the whole South Block of the Senate House needed rewiring; the Institute was to close for seven months to permit this. After Profs Cornell and Edwards protested, it was agreed the Institute would be offered alternative temporary accommodation for the duration of the rewiring. Subsequently it emerged that the Institute was being removed from an area which had been rewired in 1997 and from which asbestos had largely been removed, to one which had not been rewired and from which asbestos had not been removed.

The Institute is now occupying this temporary accommodation in the North block, which is adequate for the time being. The problem is the longer-term future of the ICS, and the accommodation that will be available when it returns to the South Block after the rewiring is complete. Since the summer it has been clear that the University intends not only to rewire the South Block, but also to 'reconfigure' its internal space. The Estates Division issued a series of plans for discussion by the Institute and relevant stakeholders (including the Societies), all of which were considered unacceptable because they restricted the Library to a smaller space than previously and divided the various functions of the Institute from one another.

After much discussion, in late summer Prof. Mann wrote to the two Societies with a 'final offer' on space, involving a reduction of 22 per cent of shelf space and 30 per cent of floor space. When the ICS library had moved into Senate House in 1997, it had been agreed that all ICS activities should be consolidated within a single 'envelope' of space. Prof. Mann's 'final offer' involved not only substantial reduction of space (and the permanent consignment of a substantial number of books to store), but also the separation of the offices of the Institute and the Societies both from the Library and from meeting rooms in which ICS and Society events were to take place. The newly configured space had no place for a common room. When this 'final offer' became known, King's College London approached the Societies, and subsequently the University, with an offer of accommodation in Drury Lane, around 5 minutes' walk from the Senate House, which would provide for all the ICS's needs on a single site. The costs appeared relatively modest -- so far as can be ascertained, a little under half the cost per square metre of the current premises. King's had a permanently renewable lease on the site, but the space had to be used for academic purposes. The building was a former fruit warehouse, and was structurally suitable for a library. Its area was 1,750 sq m, whereas the space out of which the ICS had moved was just over 1,000 sq m, and the current space was 700 sq m. King's was imaginative in visualizing the future Institute. As the University's sole criterion of relative budgetary independence was topographical, the ICS would expect on moving out to acquire more autonomy, while regaining its consolidated 'single envelope'. This proposal had been endorsed by the Library Committee of the Institute and by the Joint Standing Committee and the Councils of the Societies, and by the relevant subject panel of the British Academy. In particular it had been backed by the Advisory Council of the Institute, which not only endorsed the proposed move to Drury lane, but also supported the Director in his efforts to regain control of the management of the library and its budget. The London Subject Panel in Classics (meeting on 3 February) was also in agreement with pursuing this line.

Prof. Mann had since written to all UK Classics departments, with the aim of putting an end to 'ill-informed discussion' and reasserting the University's commitment to the preservation and continuation of the ICS Library as an outstanding research resource. The letter made no reference to Prof. Cornell's resignation, and while citing the review panel's report failed to mention its recommendation that the Librarian should report to the Director. The Subject Panel had since received a letter from the Vice-Chancellor (circulated also to SC). This suggested that the VC had taken on board the need to preserve the unity of the library, and was interpreted to mean that if the library were to move, it would move intact. The Presidents of the Societies were meeting the VC on Wednesday (15/2).

SC was asked to demand the return of the budget and the management of the ICS Library to the Director, and to endorse the proposition that the Drury Lane site would answer the ICS's purpose best.

In subsequent discussion the following questions were discussed and points made.


3. Minutes of Last Meeting

3.3 It was noted that FMcH's comments under this section had referred to students who did not have A levels in ancient languages.


4. Matters Arising


5. Chair's Report

  1. The CUCD-sponsored panel on Publishing is now scheduled for the forthcoming Classical Association conference.

  2. The Chair had attended the launch of the AHRC Landscape And Environment funding initiative; attention was drawn to the large-projects funding deadline in April.

  3. The Chair had attended a Quality Assurance Agency meeting covering benchmarks, programme descriptors, the Code of Practice. etc. The QAA does not appear prescriptive in matters of course design; they feel university administrators are inclined to imagine or invoke QAA rules where none exist. SC felt that this was helpful advice that might help departments fend off their central administrations. Fiona Crozier (QAA) is willing to come to departments and subject organizations to discuss the QAA's activity.

  4. The AHRC has issued a new call for nominations for research panels, for which the deadline was 10 March. It was agreed that a circular should be sent to contacts (and to the CLASSICISTS list) drawing attention to this deadline, and to the possibility of self-nomination.

  5. Personalia. The Chair had written to Averil Cameron on behalf of CUCD to congratulate her on her appointment as Dame in the New Year's Honours List. The deaths were noted of D. R. Shackleton Bailey and of Martin Forrest, the former co-ordinator of the University of the West of England PGCE in Classics.


6. European Research Index in the Humanities

Mike Edwards (Acting Director of ICS) had attended a European Science Foundation meeting in Brussels on 12/1/06, at which the proposed grading of research journals had been discussed. AHRC wishes subject bodies to submit suggestions through it; CUCD, like SCFA (Standing Ctte for Archaeology), had already done this directly via the UK members and chairs of the Archaeology panel (chair: Lin Foxhall) and Classics panel (chair: Claudia Antonetti; member: Richard Hunter). Widespread concern had been expressed through subject association chairs regarding the value of this exercise. However, the ESF assured delegates that there was no intention to create an hierarchy of journals, and that any journal categorized A-C was 'excellent'. The Chair of CUCD would circulate a list with proposed gradings, based on coverage not ranking. Internal circulation within the profession, and comments, are invited. [Note: after the meeting, GS ascertained that a more up-to-date list would be available soon, and that AHRC did not wish the January list to gain wide distribution in order to avoid confusion.]


7. Subject Centre

(RW reporting on behalf of CR).


8. QAA Benchmarking for Master's degrees

In view of the new QAA atmosphere, these should not be seen as an attempt to impose an unwelcome uniformity. There were diverse views in the profession on the desirability of benchmarks; if they were to be drafted, however, this should be done in a flexible and open manner. A meeting was to be held on 17 February, with two delegates allowed per institution or society. CUCD could send two people (though CR was already attending). CR to report to SC.


9. Secretary's Business

It was noted that Council had stipulated that copies of draft SC minutes were to be circulated to Contacts regularly, and hard copies tabled at Council, along with paper copies of any items previously circulated by e-mail.
FMcH reported that the Classical Association had agreed that it was desirable that their Council and the Standing Committee of the CUCD should have at least one member in common; this would be the case as long as she sat on both, and there was a general will that the practice should be maintained.


10. Treasurer's Report

Funds stood at £2,316.11. There had been some delay collecting subscriptions, as some institutions had sent money to the old Barclays account; this had now largely been resolved. Two institutions had yet to contribute subscriptions.


11. Update from Webmaster

The website is up to date, and the digitization of old Bulletin numbers proceeding. NL requested that individuals and institutions help ensure the list of External Examiners was kept up to date. ACTION: CONTACTS.
The Chair thanked the Webmaster for his work.


12. Bulletin

The copies of the Bulletin which did not arrive in time for Council had now been delivered to Oxford. The Committee congratulated FMcH on her first Bulletin. Both she and he had handed out copies at the APA/AIA in Montreal (e.g. to the Presidents of both associations). It was considered whether some system could be set up so that spare copies were automatically sent each year to other similar and interested bodies (e. g. the American Philological Association, American Institute of Archaeology, British Schools at Athens and Rome, Arts and Humanities Research Council, etc.); though this would entail extra costs, and the prospective gains would have to be clear. FMcH agreed to collect names and make recommendations. ACTION FMcH.

13. Statistics

It had been suggested at Council that it would be useful to compare CUCD trends with those observed in other subjects; useful also to repeat the HESA data exercise done by GS in 2000; and that more detailed consideration could be given to how institutions arrive at figures for 'Classics' students; these matters to referred to PM's attention. PM to note.


14. AOB

There was no other business.


15. Date of next meeting

BG to consult SC members on the relative merits of 3 and 10 June. ACTION BG.


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