De Montfort University officials caught lobbying to get honour for vice-chancellor

A confidential letter signed by the chief operating officer was sent out last month

Dean Kirby
Wednesday 02 December 2015 21:35 GMT
'Champion of the transformative power of education': Professor Dominic Shellard
'Champion of the transformative power of education': Professor Dominic Shellard (Demon.TV)

University officials have been caught lobbying high-profile figures to get their vice-chancellor on the Queen’s birthday honours list.

A confidential letter signed by Ben Browne, chief operating officer at De Montfort University in Leicester, was sent out last month. It reportedly asks for recipients to support Professor Dominic Shellard’s nomination for an honour.

Earlier this year, Professor Shellard – a former Labour councillor – controversially awarded David Cameron the university’s highest accolade for his support for marriage rights for gay couples.

According to the Leicester Mercury, Mr Browne says in his letter that he has been asked to co-ordinate the process after “consultation with external stakeholders and members of the university’s executive board”.

He describes Professor Shellard’s five years at the helm of the university as “outstanding” and says that supportive responses should be sent by 31 December.

Professor Shellard is described as a “champion of the transformative power of education”. The letter also urges supporters to “highlight Dominic’s endeavours to utilise the university to support the public good”, the Leicester Mercury says.

It also highlights the university’s “meteoric rise” up the league tables under Professor Shellard’s leadership and the university’s global initiative to secure student work placements abroad.

The letter indicates that Professor Shellard did not know about the nomination. According to the Leicester Mercury, it was sent out to MPs and other public figures in the city.

The university’s recent honouring of Mr Cameron was widely welcomed and also criticised.

Students at the university’s LGBT society said they were “disheartened” by the award and questioned Mr Cameron’s commitment to gay rights because he voted in 2003 against the repealing of Section 28, a legal clause preventing the intentional promotion of homosexuality in schools.

De Montfort University declined to comment about the letter when contacted by The Independent.

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