In the wake of the departure of Robert Mull and Helen Mallinson, 14 senior members of teaching staff from the Cass have issued a statement to declare that they may follow in support of the principled stand taken by Mull and Mallinson:
We are sad and angry that Robert Mull was put into the untenable position that led to his resignation. We would like to express our solidarity with Robert Mull and Helen Mallinson who resigned in support of Robert’s stand. The senior teaching staff of the diploma school are now considering their positions.
Dr Helen Mallinson, Director of Cass Culture and Course Leader for Critical and Contextual Studies, is the first person to walk out on LMU in solidarity with Robert Mull. She has been part of the university for the past 30 years, including seven as Head of the School of Architecture and Interior Design.
In a statement to Building Design, Mallinson said: “I have complete support for Robert as dean. He hasn’t walked out of a place he has helped build and create lightly. I have worked here for 30 years in different capacities and have been totally loyal to the values the university represents. But the reputation of the university is at stake. This isn’t about a simple matter of location. It’s also about the values that are intrinsic to higher education.”
Former Head of the School of Architecture, Dean Hilborne, commented, “Helen was a great colleague who gave all to Architectural Education, someone the subject area can ill afford to lose”.
Robert Mull has resigned, as reported by Building Design and AJ, and announced in a press release from London Met’s propaganda department.
In that press release, which directly contradicts an earlier statement from the university declaring that Robert Mull had been suspended from his duties as Dean (9 December), LMU’s ‘Department of External Relations’ say that “Professor Mull felt that his position as Dean had become untenable after he was unable to fully support the University’s £125m project to create a new home for our Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design in Islington”. He has now resigned from all his posts at the university.
The responsibility for the loss of Robert Mull as Dean of Faculty, Director of Architecture, Professor of Architecture and Spatial Design and tutor of the Free Unit lies squarely with VC John Raftery and the administration of LMU, who are forcing through an imposed contraction of the university against overwhelming opposition from faculty, students, and from the wider world of design and architecture.
Central House is a massive asset to the Cass and to London Metropolitan University; Robert Mull is arguably a greater asset, and his departure is evidence that John Raftery is unfit to lead this university.
Cass students occupy the Bank Gallery in Central House in a peaceful protest.
As reported in Building Design, Robert Mull has been suspended as Dean of Faculty by London Metropolitan University for the reason that he will not support the imposition of the ‘One Campus, One Community’ plan.
A joint statement from LMU and Robert Mull stated that “Professor Mull’s duties as Dean of Faculty have been suspended while discussions take place about his role on the university’s senior management team”. Mull was due to host a graduation but at the last minute was asked not to.
Assemble, the architecture collective which includes graduates and current faculty of the Cass, win the Turner Prize 2015, for Granby Four Streets, Liverpool. It’s the first time in its 31-year history that the Turner Prize has gone to the discipline of architecture. Paloma Strelitz and James Binning currently lead Unit 15 of the Professional Diploma in Architecture at the Cass.
The Earl of Clancarty raised a debate on the proposed plans for the Cass in the House of Lords, asking the question of the government “whether they will intervene to halt the sale of the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design building, Central House in Aldgate”. Lord Cashman, Baroness Gardner, the Earl of Glasgow, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, among others, all spoke in support of the Cass.
Read the full debate.
Vice-Chancellor John Raftery repeatedly claims that 65% of London Met students support his ‘One Campus, One Community’ plan.
The survey on which he bases the figure had 419 respondents, of whom a bare 59 (14%) were at the Cass. London Met has about 12,000 students altogether. That means the survey consulted a little over 3% of the total studentship.
The questions asked were of a general and often mundane nature, asking, for example, if students think the toilets are clean enough. Among them, one question asked whether students would like a ‘modern new campus’. There was no indication of where that campus might be, nor any suggestion that closures and sell-offs were implied.
The Student Union, who conducted the survey, were unaware of what use the results would be put to, and were also unaware at the time of Project Oak Tree.
The survey was undertaken as part of the consultation process for London Met’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020. It is referred to by the university in its presentation of its strategic plan as ‘clipboard research’, and again, in the minutes of the 12 May 2015 Board of Governors meeting, as ‘qualitative “clipboard” research’.
In their 12 October press release announcing the ‘One Campus, One Community’ plan, London Met cites this qualitative research as ‘the key driver’ for the plan. Were that true, it would be evidence of extreme irresponsibility on the part of London Met’s governors and their advisors at Ernst & Young. (more…)
An open letter in the Observer calls on LMU to review their ‘One Campus, One Community’ plan and pursue a two-site solution instead. The letter is the basis of a new petition to LMU – add your signature on change.org.
VC John Raftery claimed student support for the one campus plan. A new student survey with twice as many respondents as the original survey reveals that 89% of students at the Cass oppose the move, and only a minority of students at the Holloway Road campus support it.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the former Vice-Chancellor of London Met, Malcolm Gillies, was paid £618,000 last year, including a £159,000 golden handshake. We can only assume that John Raftery, who took over the role in August, receives a similar sum. Is it unreasonable to ask, in return for such rich rewards, for some honesty, for engagement with faculty and students, and for decisions which are evidenced, considered, argued, and ultimately taken in the best interests of the students for whom the university exists?
London Metropolitan University announces the closure of 18 Cass courses including the two complete disciplines, Jewellery and Silversmithing, together with Music Technology and Musical Instruments, the last instrument-making course in the country.
London Metropolitan University presents students and staff with news of the closure of the Aldgate and Moorgate campuses as a fait accompli, after nugatory consultation.
Read Raftery’s email >
Robert Mull’s foreword to the Cass Session 2014-15
We now have plans for the outside of Central House. We have won a grant from the GLA to form one of Boris’s Pocket Parks on the roof, and once we’ve sorted out the structure of the roof we will start planting. We also have planning permission for a big Hollywood-style sign on the roof by our own Bob and Roberta Smith declaring ‘Art Makes People Powerful’. When this is finished the wealthy occupants of the twenty-nine story housing block being built next to Central House, who literally look down on us, will have something to remind them that the arts are important and to be defended.
In 2015, the building at 41-71 Commercial Road, which was purpose-built for the London College of Furniture in 1971, is marketed as a development opportunity at £35 million by DTZ. Almost immediately, the Department for Education makes an offer for it at £20 million over the asking price.
In 2012 the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Media and Design and the School of Architecture and Spatial Design at London Metropolitan University were unified into a single faculty, and moved to Whitechapel.
London Met University appoints Florian Beigel and the Architecture Research Unit (ARU) to rework Central House to accommodate architecture students moving from Holloway. The reinvention of the building, completed in 2013, is subsequently lauded in the Architectural Review, Building Design and Architecture Today.
After the ‘worst case of university mismanagement ever seen’, the chair of London Met and several governors are forced to resign.
In 2002, London Metropolitan University was formed by the merger of the University of North London with London Guildhall University, previously City of London Polytechnic; it incorporated the old Sir John Cass School of Art, which had combined with the City of London College in 1970 to form the polytechnic.
In 1965, the Sir John Cass College’s Department of Fine and Applied art merged with the Department of Silversmithing and Allied Crafts from the Central School of Art to form the Sir John Cass School of Art. The new school moved into Central House.
From Pevsner, London: East, Whitechapel perambulation:
CENTRAL HOUSE (London Metropolitan University) dominates the next stretch. 1963-4 by Lush & Lester, intended for flatted factories above warehouse and shops (although the N blocks were almost immediately taken over by the Sir John Cass School of Art). This was one of the few post-war efforts in the area to provide new working conditions in multi-purpose buildings. Four blocks, each of six floors, with an internal service road. A bold asymmetrical composition with central open staircase, exposed concrete panels and precast panels (overpainted).
Sir John Cass (1661-1718) was a merchant, politician and philanthropist, who founded a school for fifty boys and forty girls in buildings in the churchyard of St Botolph’s Aldgate in 1709. A foundation to continue his educational work was established in 1748. The foundation continued to fund the school as well as providing for the establishment of the Sir John Cass Technical Institute, which was founded in 1899 and moved into newly built premises at 31 Jewry Street, London, in 1902. It became Sir John Cass College in 1950.