Strathclyde questioned over silence on principal’s new job

Principal questioned over new job

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor


The University has been criticised after refusing to say whether principal Sir Jim McDonald will be paid £55,000 a year for a non-executive post on the board of a top organisation.

Strathclyde claims that the salary of Sir McDonald- who receives a wage of more than £303,000- was not an issue for them.

The subject came to light after the Weir Group, a leading engineering firm based in Glasgow, confirmed the principal’s role as a non-executive member from January, after Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the former defence secretary, retires.

The minimum payment for a non-executive director is £55,000 per year, according to the organisation’s accounts.

Mary Senior, Scotland official for the UCU union, which represents academics and support staff, believes that people have a right to criticise the move.

She said: “While we welcome links between our universities and business, Strathclyde University must be transparent and make clear whether Sir Jim is drawing an outside income in addition to his salary as principal.

Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, agreed: “Being a university principal is more than a full-time job and many people will rightly question how much time these types of outside interests take up as well as the pay and benefits they attract.

“It’s vital to secure confidence that there’s full transparency about what this means for both the individual and the institution he leads.”

A Strathclyde spokeswoman spoke of Strathclyde’s “strong tradition of working closely with business and industry.”

She continued: “We welcome our staff taking up appointments such as these as it enables the university to stay connected to business, ultimately for the benefit of the economy and academic advancement.”

Strathclyde assured that Sir McDonald was completely devoted to his role as principal and that he would ensure that his university duties still remain a priority.

Charles Berry, chairman of the Weir Group, welcomed the move and said that Sir McDonald is “one of the UK’s most respected engineers and academic leaders.”

He added: “His expertise in power markets and the development of world-class research and development programmes mean I am certain he will make a significant contribution to the board and to the future success of the group.”

Sir McDonald also chairs Institute for Energy and Environment and the Scotland Research Partner-ship in Engineering, as well as being a member of the Scottish Enterprise Board and the Scottish Science Advisory Council. He has also recently become a member of the UK Trade and Investment Energy Excellence Board.

Additionally, Sir McDonald chairs the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership and co-chairs the Energy Advisory Board in Scotland.

This is not the first time the University has been criticised as last year the university came under fire after reports that it had spent 1.2 million on a luxury townhouse that included living accommodation for Sir McDonald.}