Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Plymouth Payout for Purcell after Turmoil

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Plymouth Payout for Purcell after Turmoil

Article excerpt

Ex v-c picked up £125K for loss of office, while £180K went to other staff. John Morgan writes

Wendy Purcell, the former Plymouth University vice-chancellor, received £45,000 in performance-related pay and another £125,000 for loss of office in the year she switched to being the institution's president on her full salary, after a dramatic row.

The university's accounts also reveal that the institution shelled out almost £180,000 in compensation payments for other senior members of staff who left their posts.

Professor Purcell (pictured) has now left Plymouth entirely, with her role as president having "ceased" on 31 December 2015, the university has confirmed.

Plymouth's 2014-15 financial statements, published last month, detail some of the costs arising from the dramatic breakdown in relations at the top of the institution.

The Plymouth saga began in July 2014 when the university's then chair of governors, retired judge William Taylor, suspended Professor Purcell. Subsequently, allegations emerged that he had sexually harassed female students and members of staff. Mr Taylor, who denies the allegations, stepped down from his role in September 2014.

During the turmoil at the top, it emerged that the university spent £95,000 on seven handcrafted chairs to be used at graduation ceremonies.

Professor Purcell returned to work as vice-chancellor in November 2014, but left the post to become president on 1 January 2015.

A Freedom of Information request in April 2015 revealed that after becoming president she remained on the same £250,000 salary she received as vice-chancellor, despite no longer running the campus.

Plymouth's financial statement discloses that in the five months that Professor Purcell was vice-chancellor in 2014-15, she was paid a salary of £122,436; "performance-related pay attributable to the prior financial year" of £45,000; pension contributions of £21,032; and benefits in kind of £417. …

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