Education IPE: Gadhafi Brings Down LSE Director

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/03/2011 10:14:00 PM
Well, I hope they're happy now. They've succeeded in ousting a person of great managerial skill--a rare feat in academia. Go ask Larry Summers. The irony of it all, of course, is in academia you are often punished for sparing the tried and true of "tradition" (i.e., not doing anything much). Especially now that public support of academia is going to be much less than it was in recent years--especially for the social sciences--you need folks like these. Having actually gone out into the world and promoted the LSE name for many, many years, this is what Sir Howard Davies gets.

It's odd that I received this message by mass e-mail when the director's office is just one floor below mine, but the breaking news is that LSE Director Howard Davies has resigned over the school's relationship with the Gadhafi government. I won't recycle my thoughts on what occurred which I generally don't think were sufficient to force the ouster of someone who's done a lot for the LSE--from furthering its international reach (admittedly to mixed effect in this instance) to improving the school's premises [1, 2, 3]. All these of course while maintaining the LSE's status as perhaps the globe's premier social science institution. Certainly, it has no peer in hosting prominent speakers from all over the world.

At any rate, the press release which contains his letter of resignation cites the following matters which will be subject to independent investigation:

An independent inquiry to establish the full facts of the School’s links with Libya, whether there have been errors made, and to establish clear guidelines for international donations to and links with the School. Lord Woolf is to make recommendations to the LSE Council as soon as possible. He is to have total discretion as to how he conducts the inquiry, and as to the matters on which he is to report.

The issues the Council will suggest he investigates include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The agreement to accept a £1.5 million donation from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) in 2009 to LSE Global Governance, £300,000 of which has been received to date
  • The acceptance of $50,000 paid to the university in return for Sir Howard’s advice to Libya’s sovereign wealth fund in 2007
  • The academic authenticity of Saif Gaddafi’s PhD thesis, awarded in 2008
  • The agreement of a £2.2 million contract between LSE Enterprise and Libya’s Economic Development Board to train Libyan civil servants and professionals, £1.5 million of which has been received to date and payment of £20,000 for tuition of the head of the Libyan Investment Authority
  • The acceptance of an award from GICDF of £22,857 to support travel costs, mainly airfares, for academic speakers to travel to Libya. Furthermore, the Council notes that LSE staff have co-operated with an investigation of an allegation of an assault during a protest at the LSE on 25th May 2010 when Saif Gaddafi visited the School to make a speech. This alleged assault, involving one of Gaddafi’s associates and a protestor, is currently sub judice and no further comment can be made.
  • Finally, the Council will carry out its own investigation of the administration of LSE Global Governance.
Anarchy--or what passes for it in academia--has descended on us denizens of Houghton Street. If you're (somewhat oddly) further interested in the goings-on around here, our school paper has more on the LSE student protests which perhaps helped force Davies' hand and the accusations of plagiarism against Saif al-Islam Gadhafi.

Godspeed to Sir Howard Davies. The abovementioned issues aside, he's done much for our school since coming on board in 2003. Why is Sir Howard Davies a casualty ahead of a guy who fires on religious buildings? In a fair world, I wouldn't have to ask such a question.

UPDATE: The FT expounds on the magnitude of the LSE's loss.