A former governor of Wye College involved in its merger with Imperial says that the new regime of Professor Sir Richard Sykes departed ‘in significant ways from the assurances we had been given’ over its future by the team that brokered the original deal.
Professor Berkeley Hill, staff representative governor at Wye during what he describes as ‘the difficult 1990s’, says in a comment to save-wye that the merger looked ‘very attractive’ when Imperial approached the college with the idea under then rector Sir Ron (now Lord) Oxburgh, who foresaw the establishment of a burgeoning agricultural research centre.
‘The decision by the governors to support the merger was entirely reasonable given the assurances from the then management of Imperial, the vision for the combined college it expounded, and the prospects of what was likely to happen to the finances of an independent Wye College.
‘We were not to know that a change of Rector and other senior staff would lead to a radically different vision and management style, departing in significant ways from the assurances we had been given. With hindsight, Wye’s governors may have acted differently. However, at the time the decision had to be taken, merger with Imperial was the best option available. Governors cannot be blamed for events that were difficult to predict and impossible to influence.’
You can read more about this astonishing turnaround in attitudes towards Wye here.