“A bastard with skill is the best sort of bastard.” That’s what I was told when I dared mention to a friend of mine that I thought incoming Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffery sounded like a sound bloke. It didn’t matter that I quite liked what he said when I was one of the maybe half dozen students attending his inaugural speech, he was the VC, so he must be a bastard…just with a few good ideas. Is that what we’re getting though?
Well, you can’t make the case that he hasn’t gone and got himself plenty to do. Proving a booklet of ideas longer than a standard student newspaper, and a powerpoint with as many well-timed jokes as an overly confident 6th former’s history presentation, Jeffery has as many ideas to push the Uni onwards as I could shake £50,000 worth of student debt as. As bold as the divestment news was (and don’t get me wrong, good news), there were half a million other ideas that nobody outside that room will ever know about.
He’s clearly a big internationalist. Perhaps built from his expertise in German federalism, Jeffery shows ambition towards upping the number of non-UK students, following up with staff, and creating more foreign opportunities. It’s certainly a move in the right direction, but it sounds like he’s more than just words. He talked about investment deals, strategic development goals, and the phrase ‘unrestricted flow of information’. Well, it was dry, but hey, he’s a suit in an office, and it’s the sounds of actual change.
There’s also the lens of the University’s role to York itself. We’re all on our own out here in the cold empty swamp of Heslington. Barely a scrap of civilization over here certainly separated from the city, there’s a wide wealth of resources the University should offer York residents. Maybe ol’ Charlie will actually get on with it. We’ve got more books than Waterstones, more wildlife than the river and more bars, well, no, town has more bars, but still.
A bastard with skill could revitalize this University. Breath a bit more life into it, really kick up the value we all take from Uni up a couple of notches. But maybe we’ve got something a tad better. Maybe we don’t have a bastard with skill at all. Charlie Jeffery strikes me, as a complete non-bastard.
Featured image by Harry Clay