Appointing a new Warden

The process of looking for a new Warden, following the announcement of the forthcoming retirement of Patrick Loughrey.

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This page is archived, and remains available for reference purposes to set out the process Goldsmiths followed during late 2018 and early 2019 to appoint its new Warden. Goldsmiths’ new Warden was appointed by Council in April 2019. Read the official announcement.

The Warden’s role is defined in Goldsmiths’ charter as the principal academic, administrative and executive officer of the College.

Search Committee

Council is responsible for appointing the College’s Warden, as set out in our Statutes. At its meeting on 20 September 2018, Council agreed that a sub-committee should be established to lead the search and form the final interview panel.

The ‘Search Committee’ included external and internal members of Council, student and staff representation, and was chaired by the Chair of Council. The following individuals were on the panel:

Dinah Caine Chair of Council
Vanessa Sharp External member of Council
Helen MacNamara External member of Council
Aaron Porter External member of Council
John Price Head of Department, member of Academic Board and Internal member of Council
Richard Noble Head of Department, member of Academic Board and former Internal member of Council
JT President of Goldsmiths’ Students Union

The Committee were supported in their work by the Registrar and Secretary, and the Director of HR.

Following a competitive tender process, Perrett Laver, an executive search firm, were appointed to assist the Committee with aspects of the recruitment process.

Search Process

We conducted an open web survey during October and November 2018 to seek initial views on the qualities and skills needed from Goldsmiths’ next Warden, and we received over 300 responses from across the College and beyond. This exercise was supplemented by a series of focus groups with students and staff during December 2018, and one-to-one discussions with key stakeholders. Together, around 150 members of the College community took part in this process, which captured views on the type of person Goldsmiths needs to meet future challenges and opportunities.

The feedback has been analysed and summary reports are available to read:

Insights gained from the consultation process directly informed and shaped the person specification and candidate pack, as well as the wider approach to be adopted by the Search Committee.

The role was openly advertised between 8 January and 5 February 2019.

Longlisting took place during February 2019, proceeding to shortlisting and final interviews at the end of March 2019.

Taking on board feedback from staff and students, the Search Committee arranged for small representative groups to meet shortlisted candidates and offer feedback to the Committee in an advisory capacity. Around 40 students and staff members met shortlisted candidates during March, following an open call for members of the College to take part. Their feedback was  considered carefully by the Search Committee as they conducted final interviews.

Answers to detailed questions on the process can be found below.

Goldsmiths’ Council is the College’s governing body, and in accordance with good practice and regulatory rules, the majority of its members are independent. These members bring experience from outside the College on a voluntary basis, giving their time to help steer the strategic direction of the institution and ensure compliance with the legal and regulatory framework with which universities operate.

The appointment of a new Warden is a formal responsibility of Council, which also has a statutory role to safeguard the long term viability of the College and to have full and proper regard to the expectations of sector guidance on senior appointments.

Ultimately, members of Council cannot be expected to hold accountability for a key decision that they have not actually taken.

More fundamentally, the prospect of facing an election process is unlikely to encourage a diverse range of applications from the widest possible pool of candidates. Being identified publically as a candidate would be particularly discouraging for those currently working within the sector.

The Search Committee were concerned that open hustings would not promote the aim of encouraging a diverse range of applications from the widest possible pool of candidates. Large scale presentations typically play to the strengths of certain groups, and the committee is uncertain that such an exercise would help identify the best overall leader for the institution.

However, there have been opportunities for groups of staff and students to meet shortlisted candidates, and to submit questions that will be used by the interview panel.

The Search Committee worked with an executive search firm to advertise the role widely (including overseas) and to approach suitable potential candidates directly. We have made clear in all public material that Goldsmiths is particularly keen to hear from candidates from groups currently under-represented at senior levels of higher education.

The appointment of a new Warden is a formal responsibility of Goldsmiths’ governing Council, as set out in the College statutes.  Council delegated the necessary steps to get us to this point to a Search Committee chaired by the Chair of Council.

The membership of the committee can be found above.  The Committee is of the same size and similar composition to that which recommended the appointment of our current Warden in 2009/10 and reflects its status as a Council committee, with both internal and external Council membership.

Council initially delegated setting up the Committee to the Chair, so work could commence promptly, before approving its composition and terms of reference at its meeting in November 2018.

Council was keen to ensure the recruitment process reflects the diversity of Goldsmiths’ staff and student bodies. Staff and student input has therefore been sought throughout the process.

The Search Committee  listened carefully to the range of feedback received from students, staff and other stakeholders through the open web survey and focus groups which took place in the autumn term of 2018. This input has shaped the candidate pack and wider approach adopted by the committee.

Small groups of staff and students met shortlisted candidates, in confidence, during March. All students and staff were invited to express and interest in joining one of these groups, which focued on three key strategic themes for the College. There was a fourth group specifically for our recognised staff and student unions. Feedback from these sessions will be considered carefully by the interview panel as part of their final assessment of candidates.

The Search Committee also developed a mechanism to meet the request that questions from students and staff were put to shortlisted candidates as part of the final selection process.

Last updated 11 April 2019