College Registrar Brendan Tangney today said that “the professional expertise of HR was used to assist” in the interview process for the Provost elections, but that “HR had no vote on the committee”, amid claims that HR played a central role in disqualification of Prof Sarah Alyn-Stacey from the race.
In an email to staff, Tangney defended the Provost election process, saying that the college community “can rest assured that the process followed to date is fully in compliance with the Statutes”.
Last month, the interview committee for the elections disqualified Alyn-Stacey from running.
In a statement to her nominators at the time, Alyn Stacey said that the interview process had “blurred” the distinction between an election and an appointment and given HR a “crucial role” in who will be the next Provost.
Yesterday, this newspaper reported that Alyn-Stacey said that she had never been told by the Interview Committee, Appeals Committee, or the Visitors that she did not have a prima facie case for running in the election, a test which is laid out in the statutes.
“The failure to engage with this prima facie test is mystifying and unhelpful”, she said. “It would seem then that I have not been disqualified on Statutory grounds (the only proper grounds) but on non-mandated grounds, established by HR, implemented by the Interview Committee and stood over by the Appeals Committee and the Visitors.”
Alyn-Stacey also said that the Visitors’ ruling “raises important questions about how the principle of democracy, not just in Trinity but in all third-level institutions in Ireland, operates in relation to managerialism”.
In today’s email, Tangney also said that “while I do not wish to comment on any individual application, for privacy and data protection reasons, I can say that Board at its meeting of last Wednesday, was informed that one unsuccessful applicant at the interview stage did take an appeal to the Appeals Committee and subsequently to the Visitors”.
“In both cases the appeal was rejected, with the Visitors stating that in their view the procedures as laid down in the Statutes were adhered to.”
“Board was also reminded that the Statutes provide that decisions of the Visitors shall be binding upon all members of the College community; provided that this shall not affect any further rights of appeal and review available under the law of the land”, he added.
Prof Sarah Alyn-Stacey has called on the Fellows to back the removal of the interview process for the Provost elections from the statutes.
Alyn-Stacey said that “we must leave the election fairly and plainly in the hands of the electorate as befit a university of our ancient standing and liberal traditions; we must trust to and respect the intelligence and independent spirit of its academic staff and students to elect the Provost they want, free of unmandated managerialist intervention”.
“Unfortunately”, she added, “it is this essential freedom of the electorate, together with diversity and respect for the Statutes, which is the major casualty of the present election”.