The Dean of the School of Management Nigel Piercy has been slammed by a top ranking member of the university management over inflammatory remarks in which he described trade unionists as “unpleasant and grubby little people”.
In an unprecedented move, the Chairman of Swansea University Council has written an open letter to all staff members expressing his outrage at the Dean’s remarks on his blog.
Sir Roger Jones describes Nigel Piercy’s online diatribe as “puerile” and “gratuitously offensive”.
He wrote: “Colleagues, as the first and possibly the only private sector employer to address the Wales TUC Congress, I do not take kindly to the fact that the university for which I take responsibility as Chairman is put in a light of being “anti-trades union”.
“Swansea University has enjoyed an excellent relationship with its trades union partners, and I am brought to consider why Professor Piercy used this crass language in his blog. Was it just an attempt to damage this relationship?
“Sadly, I am led to conclude that this was his prime motive.
“Academic freedom is a powerful concept and the world would be a poorer place if this was undermined. However the right of free expression must be balanced with the need for respect for others. I feel that Professor Piercy has failed to achieve that balance.
“Therefore as Chairman of our Council, I join with its members in apologising unreservedly for the Dean’s puerile remarks.
“The university as an institution has been ill served by these gratuitously offensive comments.”
Signed: Sir Roger Jones, Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council.
The Chairman’s condemnation of the Dean is the first sign of any displeasure from university management, which so far has either refused to comment or has backed the Dean in his controversial reforms.
Since arriving at the university in 2013, Nigel Piercy has run up against both unions and students over his unpopular reforms and abrasive style of management, sparking a 1,000 name petition, a protest march and rally, and 13 formal complaints to the university, as well as dozens of informal ones.
Students’ union education officer Ilana Cohen spearheaded a campaign to resolve the problems and reigned in the Dean slightly when it was agreed that his emails to students should be vetted by her before going out, but then Mr Piercy went on to let off steam on his personal blog.
‘Grubby little people’
He wrote that academics should not be fettered in their thinking by “Unpleasant and grubby little people, who purport to represent others because they have persuaded a tiny number of people to elect them to office in trades unions and the like, and appear to believe they have the right of veto over what academics publish and say.
“Usually distinguished only by their sad haircuts, grubby, chewed fingernails and failed careers, these undistinguished individuals feel entitled to censor what others say and write…
“A further distinguishing characteristic is often straggly beards – half-way between designer stubble and a real beard, such growths are probably indicative of a hormone deficiency. But why is it that the rabid left wing believes that they alone have freedom of expression?
“However did we allow such creepy little people to develop such an enlarged and disproportionate sense of entitlement, and blight our universities?”
When asked for a response to the blog, a spokeswoman for Swansea University said: “The blog represents the personal views of an academic colleague who has the freedom to express them.”
Today, when asked to respond to the Council chairman’s open letter of condemnation, the university said: “We don’t comment on internal communications.”