Durham asks who really is who in college row

University community split as tutors lose confidence in their principal
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The future of the principal of one of Durham University's most prestigious colleges has been thrown into doubt after he was found to have supplied misleading accounts of his background to the university and Who's Who.

The Rev Duane Arnold, 43, was heralded as Durham's answer to some of Oxbridge's famously flamboyant and eccentric dons when he was appointed principal of St Chad's in 1994.

Since then, there has indeed been spectacle - rumoured to include high- table toasts to "His Imperial Majesty King Edward VII", and a new candle- lit inauguration ceremony, in Latin, for freshers.

But there has also been controversy. Thirteen college tutors, among them the chaplain and the vice-principal, have left office since Dr Arnold's arrival from the US in October 1994. Four of the tutors were on the college council, which is instrumental in deciding policy; another nine council members have also departed, plus four non-teaching staff, including the secretary and accountant.

On his resignation from the college, senior lecturer Charles Shaw wrote to the president of the junior common room at St Chad's: "I feel great regret that I am leaving what was once a happy college, and guilt for deserting you at a time when all St Chad's students will need such moral support. I hope that you will keep in touch and that we shall meet again in college in happier times. In the meantime, I shall not set foot in St Chad's while Dr Arnold is principal."

A letter sent to Dr Arnold on 1 June 1996 and signed by 14 college tutors read: "We are ... deeply concerned about the disruption to the orderly and harmonious working of the college, due to the breakdown in personal relationships. We therefore wish to record that we cannot continue to have confidence in you as principal of St Chad's college."

In a statement issued on 11 October, Durham University said that although it had "no doubt that the principal holds the qualifications necessary for the post to which he was appointed", it was informing the college that it had found "discrepancies" in "material which was supplied to the university for an application for a work permit in 1994".

Until yesterday, the college council, whose head is the Rt Rev Michael Henshall, Bishop of Warrington, made it clear it was supporting Dr Arnold. Yesterday, however, the Bishop issued a statement which said he was now investigating the allegations, and that "in due course the college council will form a view and act accordingly".

Dr Arnold was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he was earlier reported to have blamed the discrepancies on clerical errors, which he had dealt as soon as they were drawn to his attention.

The Rev Arnold's entry in 'Who's Who' lists an impressive number of qualifications, but many of the institutions concerned claim no knowledge of him.

tNew York University claims no knowledge of his 1979 NYU BA degree. Dr Arnold's entry in 'Who's Who in America' from the year that he became St Chad's College Principal claims a 1979 BA not from NYU, but from the State University of New York at Albany, which also said it had no record of him.

tConcordia University in Quebec said that there was no mention of Dr Arnold in their records, which date back to 1976.

tPhiladelphia University doesn't exist.

tThe existence of a 1983 Diploma in Theology from Cambridge University is not known to the records department of Cambridge University. A spokesperson said: "No Duane Arnold is on the record as having matriculated at Cambridge."

A spokesperson for 'Who's Who' yesterday confirmed that the Rev Arnold had signed the form upon which he listed his qualifications for publication in the 1996 edition of 'Who's Who'. The company then sent him a proof copy to be checked before publication. The Rev Arnold made no corrections to this, but some more information was added. The proof was signed again by him, and was then returned to 'Who's Who' for publication. Both the signed forms remain in the possession of the publishers.