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Haworth Tompkins director turns down honorary degree amid pay row

Steve tompkins receiving stirling prize
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Architect Steve Tompkins has declined an honorary degree from the University of Bath because of the controversy surrounding its vice-chancellor’s pay

The founding director of Haworth Tompkins (pictured above receiving the 2014 Stirling Prize) was one of five honorary graduates invited by the university to its graduation ceremonies last week. However, he decided against accepting the honour from his alma mater.  

‘I explained to the university that I wasn’t comfortable being part of the honorary degree ceremony this year,’ Tompkins told the AJ.  

‘I do have great respect and affection for the school where I trained under Ted Happold in the late 70s and taught in the 90s, so, having had to miss the ceremony last year due to illness, I hope to make it third time lucky next year.’ 

The Bath Chronicle reported that Tompkins decided not to receive the honour following the recent controversy surrounding vice-chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell’s £468,000 annual package.  

The university announced last month that Breakwell – the UK’s highest-paid vice-chancellor – will step down at the end of the academic year in August. She will then take a sabbatical for academic research before retiring in February 2019.   

A University of Bath spokesperson said: ‘We are proud of all of our honorary graduates who have made outstanding contributions in their fields. In 2017 we have conferred more than 20 honorary degrees, including four last week, to exceptional people from a range of backgrounds who join a University community working on important global challenges for the public good, and delivering a top quality education and excellent employment prospects for students.  

‘We look forward to welcoming new honorary graduates into our community in years to come.’

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Arups management were always complaining, when we were working on the Pompidou Centre, about Ted running a flamboyant 10 year old Mark 2 Jag with wire wheels instead of a 'sensible' (i.e.boring) 1970's Ford Granada or Rover P7 but he wouldn't have endorsed this institutional profligacy in his brainchild.
    Amazing what £9,000 p.a. fees/student can get you as vice chancellor. £468k this year. Another £468k next year for 'sabbatical' followed by retirement doubtless on pension? Nice.

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  • Ted Happold would surely take a very dim view indeed of the current crop of academic charlatans waxing fat from the proceeds of the heavy financial load weighing down many students.

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