THE chairman of the university court at the centre of the controversial suspension of Scotland’s longest-serving principal is to stand down from his post at the end of this month.
• Nigel Hawkins to resign as chairman of governing body of Abertay University
• Hawkins was pivotal in dispute which saw former university principle Prof Bernard King resign as principal and vice-chancellor
Nigel Hawkins, the chairman of the governing body of Abertay University, played a pivotal role in the dispute which rocked the institution last year over the suspension of Professor Bernard King from his £222,000 a year post of principal and vice-chancellor of the university.
The protracted row was finally settled after six months when university authorities announced that the “retirement” of Prof King had been “confirmed” in a deal understood to have involved a significant financial settlement.
Sources at the university had claimed that Prof King had been ousted because of a dispute between the principal and court members over the timing of his departure from office and a struggle for power at the university.
At the height of the bitter dispute Professor Philippe Baveye, a leading member of the academic staff, branded the university court as “amateurish, inept, incompetent and irresponsible” and called for Mr Hawkin’s resignation as chairman of the governing body.
Abertay University has now announced that Mr Hawkins, who as spent 13 years on the university court, including the last three as chairman, is to step down from office at the end of the month.
Mr Hawkins is to be succeeded by Eddie Frizzell, the current vice chairman, who paid tribute to him at a special presentation at the university. He said that Mr Hawkins had attended more than 50 court meetings and had devoted many hours to other meetings, functions and events at the university on an unpaid and voluntary basis.
He added that the whole Abertay community would always be grateful for Mr Hawkins’ dedication and energy throughout his time on court and especially during the “rather turbulent” times at the institution last year.
A native Dundonian, Mr Hawkins was educated at Madras College and worked as a journalist, becoming assistant editor of the Edinburgh Evening News, before moving into public relations.
His PR company was hired by the then Dundee Institute of Technology in 1992 to assist with its campaign to secure university status as Abertay University. In 1996 he was appointed chief executive of the environmental charity the John Muir Trust.