|Sir Malcolm Grant|
|President and Provost of University College London|
1 August 2003 – 1 September 2013
|Preceded by||Derek Roberts|
|Succeeded by||Michael Arthur|
29 November 1947 |
Oamaru, New Zealand
|Alma mater||University of Otago|
Grant was the 9th Provost and President of University College London (UCL) for over a decade until September 2013. He was succeeded by Michael Arthur as the 10th Provost. He had held the post – the principal academic and administrative officer and head of UCL – since August 2003.
Grant was born and raised in Oamaru, New Zealand. He attended the state-run Waitaki Boys' High School and went on to study at the University of Otago, where he respectively gained an LL.B. (1970), LL.M. (1973) and LL.D. degree (1986). He became a Lecturer in Law at Southampton University (1972–1986). He was then a Professor of Law and Vice-Dean, from 1986 until 1991, of the University College London Law Faculty.
Grant was appointed Professor of Land Economy and a Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge. He then served as Head of the Department of Land Economy at Cambridge from 1993 until 2001 and was the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university from 2002 until 2003. Whilst there he led attempts to reform the university. He was succeeded as Pro-Vice-Chancellor by Tony Minson. Grant was elected an Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences in 2000 and in 2004 he was elected a Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
In 2004, Grant launched 'The Campaign for UCL'. The campaign was designed to generate 300 million pounds of extra funding for the university, to expand facilities and provide for new research initiatives. The appeal will also fund an ear institute, a spinal repair unit and an institute for women's health. Fifty million pounds of the targeted funds will provide support for students, in the form of bursaries, scholarships, and post-doctoral fellowships. It was the biggest ever fundraising target set by a university in the United Kingdom, until Cambridge set a £1 billion target for its 800 year anniversary followed by the highest ever £3 billion target set by University of Oxford through the Oxford thinking campaign. Grant said of the 'Campaign':
"I have heard it suggested that the concept of philanthropy is somehow alien to the national psyche, and that asking for money is not the British thing to do. This is, frankly, nonsense. Most of our leading universities owe their origins to philanthropy. Without the generosity of our founding fathers, UCL would never have seen the light of day back in 1826. This campaign will enable UCL, a real British success story, to enjoy the kind of resources to enable us to compete with the world's very best academic institutions"
In 2005, on an invitation from The Cheese Grater, he agreed to shave off his moustache if UCL students raised £1500 for Comic Relief, on Red Nose Day. Unfortunately for his moustache — of 33 years — students and staff duly donated over £2,000. However, it has since regrown.
In 2006, he spoke out against the Israel university boycotts by the Association of University Lecturers (now the Universities Colleges Union). In 2006, Grant also controversially stated that European students had better English skills than many British students.
In 2007, Grant said the achievement and academic gap between male and female students was widening. Since 1998, 313,259 more women than men have made university applications. Malcolm Grant said, "the trend indicated a big fall in the number of university-educated men".
In January 2007, he argued that the entire nation-wide university approach to funding needed a different approach. In regard to UCL's need for additional funding, he stated the reasons in an interview with the BBC:
""To provide world-class research - through discovery, invention and creativity - and to convey the excitement of it to able young minds."
In June 2007, in response to legal threats from Alan Lakin, husband of a purveyor of herbal remedies, Grant required Professor David Colquhoun to remove his website, "Improbable Science" from university computers. An outcry from the scientific community ensued, and Grant reconsidered, inviting Dr. Colquhoun to bring the site back to UCL once it had been edited for libel.
In December 2011, Grant became the first UCL Provost to be challenged by 'a vote of No Confidence' by UCL Union, the representative body of UCL students, following his appointment as chair of the NHS Commissioning Board. However this was deemed unconstitutional. As a result, the matter was passed to a referendum in which the students of UCL voted in confidence of Grant by 1699 votes to 1185, with 391 abstentions.
Grant is an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (1993–) and an Honorary Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1995–). He is also a Barrister of Middle Temple (1998–); and Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand Resource Management Law Association (1999). He was elected a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2004.
In 2003, Grant was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to planning law and local government. He was Chair of the Agriculture & Environment Biotechnology Commission (2000–2005). Grant was also Chair of the UK Independent Steering Board for the Public Debate on Genetically modified foods from 2002–2003). He urged that the public have a voice in discussing GM foods.
From 2006-2009, he was chair of the Russell Group of UK research universities. He was also Chair of the Standards Committee of the Greater London Authority, and has been Chair of the Association of London Government’s Independent Panel on the Remuneration of Councillors in London (1998–2005). He served two terms of appointment as Chair of the Local Government Commission for England (1996–2001), having been originally appointed a member of the commission from 1992. Whilst there he helped organise the new plans for electing members of London's local government. Grant served as a Member of Council of the Royal Institution from 2007-2009. He was appointed a British Business Ambassador by the Prime Minister in 2008, and he serves on the boards of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Hong Kong University Grants Committee.
In the Telegraph, Grant was criticised for allegedly downplaying Islamist radicalisation and extremism on the UCL campus. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – who attempted to explode a bomb on a flight to Detroit – was the president of the UCL Islamic Society from 2005-08. He was the fourth president of an official Islamic society at a London university to face terrorist charges in three years. In response to the criticisms, Grant stated that he had ordered a review into the issue. He also denied that there was a problem with Islamic extremism at UCL, and accused some Telegraph writers of "Islamophobia". Consequently, the CSC issued a press briefing listing a number of Islamist extremists who had recently spoken on the UCL campus after being officially invited by UCL's Islamic groups. Ruth Dudley Edwards criticised Grant's response, writing: "Rather than producing mealy-mouthed defensive statements... Provost Grant should seriously reconsider his position." On the other hand, Professor John Sutherland, writing in the Guardian, defended the university's response of constructive engagement, which recommended "debate with extremists" and the promotion of an Islamic Awareness Week: "My own, partisan, view is that UCL's openness is morally justified.... But there are clear risks".
Sir Derek Roberts
|Provost of University College London
2003 – 2013