Robert Gordon University in turmoil after vice-principal quits

Robert Gordon University is accused of failing to punish  principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski  for breaching conflict of intrest rules. Picture: SWNS
Robert Gordon University is accused of failing to punish principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski for breaching conflict of intrest rules. Picture: SWNS
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Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University has been plunged into turmoil after its vice-principal quit in protest at the “unacceptable” conduct of its principal and another senior colleague.

Professor Paul Hagan wrote an explosive resignation letter condemning the university for failing to punish principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski and fellow vice-principal Gordon McConnell.

The pair breached the university’s conflict of interest policy by failing to declare during Prof McConnell’s recruitment that they were co-directors of a firm which owned a £12 million castle in Ireland.

Prof Hagan claims any other employee in the same position would have been disciplined or even dismissed.

The only sanction for the former Dublin City University colleagues was that they would be “required to re-familiarise themselves with the university’s ethics and conflict of interest policy” and to “formally discuss the outcome” of the investigation with the board.

Prof Hagan – who was on the panel that interviewed Prof McConnell last year – sent his resignation to Prof von Prondzynski as findings of the investigation were made public.

“I cannot see how the board could have reached the conclusion and outcome that has been released,” he wrote.

“I am convinced that any other member of staff in the same situation would have been disciplined, possibly dismissed. Staff will find it extraordinary that both of you have avoided any significant sanction.”

He added: “This leaves me in an untenable position. The deficiencies in the appointment process cannot be repaired retrospectively and I cannot agree with the minimal action the board has decided upon. So reluctantly, I will now begin the search for an alternative role elsewhere in the sector.”

Prof Hagan is a former Scottish Funding Council director and is a director of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the university said: “RGU carried out a full investigation and the findings have been made public. The university will not be making any further comment at this time.”

It was revealed in May that an investigation had been launched after a whistleblower had highlighted the business connection between Professor von Prondzynski and Professor McConnell, who started his job at RGU in January.