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12 February 2004

Board of Scrutiny


Thursday 12 February 2004


Robinson College

Garden Room



Present: Mantas Adomenas, Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth (chair), Nicholas Holmes, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Saskia Murk-Jansen, Timothy Milner, David Phillipson, Jennifer Rigby, Roger Salmon, John Spencer (from 12.50), Helen Thompson.



1.       Apologies

        John Spencer for the first part of the meting


2.       Minutes of the meeting of 29 January 2004

        The Board confirmed the minutes with a correction to a typo.


3.       Matters arising


3.1.    Administrative support

The Chair reported that he had been in contact with one of the role analysts in the Personnel division and as a result had produced the required paper work for proceeding with an advertisement for the position of a support officer for the Board. The role analyst had advised him that the post should be at AO2 level with a contract to work for 240 hours a year.  He also informed the Board that he had conveyed the Board’s view that the person appointed be given a laptop but that Personnel had not yet made a decision on this issue


ACTION: The Chair to continue to liaise with Personnel.


3.2.    Meeting with the Council on 19 February 2004

  The Chair reported that the delegation from the Council would arrive for the meeting at 1.15.  The Board agreed to send the Registrary and the members of the delegation a draft agenda prior to the meeting.


ACTION: The Chair and Secretary to prepare an agenda and send it to the Registrary.


3.3.    The building maintenance fund

Nick Holmes reported that during further correspondence with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources he has ascertained that the Abstract of Accounts published in July 2003 had allocated an erroneous sum of SRIF 2 money to maintenance over a two-year period.


ACTION: Nick Holmes to continue his correspondence with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources.


3.4.    Meeting with the Vice-Chancellor

The Chair reported that the Vice-Chancellor had agreed to attend the meeting of the Board on 22 April.


3.5.    Audit management letter

The Chair reported that the Registrary had informed him that the University had received the HEFCE audit management letter. The letter would go to the Council on 23 February and the Board would receive it immediately after that meeting.


3.6.    Meeting with the Registrary

                  The Board confirmed the record of the meeting.


4.       The effectiveness of Council

Roger Salmon circulated a paper that he had written for the Board to discuss on the functioning of the Council. The Board discussed the issues raised in the paper. It agreed to send an amended version of the paper to the Registrary and members of the Council attending the meeting with the Board on 19 February.


Roger Salmon circulated a second paper, outlining some of the strategic issues facing the University. The Board agreed to discuss the issues raised in this paper at its next meeting.


                  ACTION: Roger Salmon to revise the paper on Council and the Chair to send to the Registrary and the delegation of the Council. David Phillipson to expand the paper on the strategic issues facing the University.


5.       Invitation to Chair to serve on a Council committee

The Chair reported that he had been invited to serve on a Council committee that will consider the voting system used in the University. The Board agreed that in its view it would be better for Dr Forsythe to serve as his own person rather than as Chairman of the Board. The Board also agreed that the committee should include an expert in probability.


ACTION: The Chair to accept invitation in a personal capacity and suggest in doing so that a mathematician be invited to serve on the committee.


6.       Requests for documents

        The Board agreed to ask formally for the Blue Book each year and the accompanying data-sheet.


ACTION: The Chair to ask for last year’s Blue Book and data-sheet from the Director of Finance.


7.       The University’s investments

Stephen Cowley reported that he had heard that there was some disquiet in some quarters that the University’s investments are still managed by a single firm. The Board agreed to ascertain what mandate the Investment Committee had given the investment fund managers used by the University.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Director of Finance to request (i) the letter sent to the University’s investment fund managers and  (ii) any minutes on discussions of alternatives to the present management of investments.


8.       Preparation of the Board’s Annual Report

        The Board agreed that it would once again produce an Annual Report.


9.        Any other business


9.1.    Staff Development course

John Spencer reported that he had given, earlier in the week, a presentation about the Board’s role in the governance of the University to the Staff Development course.


9.2.    Freedom of Information Act

The Board noted that Faculties and Departments would need clear guidelines about how to deal with possible requests under the Act from 1 January 2005.


10.     Date of the next meeting: 19 February 2004