Endorsement: Christienna Fryar, University of Liverpool

Endorsement from Dr Christienna Fryar, University of Liverpool

When I moved to this country almost two years ago to take up a lectureship, I found an HE sector plunged into severe interlocking crises that pose an existential threat to university education. Workload crises and overweening bureaucracy combined with obsession with meaningless metrics all shift our focus away from what’s meaningful. Our union should be leading the fight against these crises, but it is clearly out of touch with members in all post-16 education sectors and has not figured out how to tackle these fast-multiplying threats. Jo Grady was a standout presence on Twitter during the USS strike, providing clear explanations and information when national UCU failed to do so. Her manifesto is exciting and presents a real vision for an inclusive, responsive, union that fights for our ability to work with dignity and return tertiary education to the public good that it should be. I endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary.

Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary—Let’s spread the word!

This is an email sent to subscribers of the #Grady4GS mailing list on Friday 3 May 2019 (some subscribers may have received this later). To subscribe to our GDPR-compliant list, please fill out your details here!

On Thursday 23 May 2019, the General Secretary (GS) ballot will have closed (see our FAQs). That isn’t much time for all those supporting Jo Grady get their ballot papers into the mailbox with her listed #1. We really need your help.

Members who are engaged with UCU will probably vote quickly and have probably already decided who to vote for. Our Grady4GS campaign is also focusing on increasing the vote among UCU members who wouldn’t usually vote in a GS election. We estimate that a high percentage of UCU members still don’t know the election is going on and how important it is, despite the all-member emails they should have received this week.

So to ‘get the vote out’ we need to ‘get the word out’!

Here’s what you can do:

Joinor carry on working ina ground team: Huge thanks to many of you who are already part of a ground team at your institution. It’s been fantastic to see Grady4GS initiatives sprouting all over the country. We’d love more of you to help. Email Claire Marris: she’ll put you in touch with others getting the vote out for Grady at your institution, or help you to get your institution off the ground. (The #Grady4GS campaign team will be sharing basic contact details with Claire Marris to coordinate the ground game.)

Carry on talking to and emailing colleagues: Putting up posters and distributing postcards is very important, but it’s also crucial to speak to people face to face and email them (see our template here). Most members don’t know the election is happening and/or how important it is to cast their vote. Do not assume that an expression of support for Grady automatically turns into a vote for Grady. Remind all colleagues to post their ballot.

Help other members receive GS emails, and change their membership info: We’ve encountered lots of members who haven’t been receiving the candidate emails that are supposed to go to the entire membership. We can’t even be sure that our so-called ‘all-member emails’ are actually reaching all of UCU’s members. We can’t take members’ awareness for granted.

Some UCU members (e.g. PhD students who are paid for teaching) might need to change their membership category to receive ballot papers.

For a full set of solutions to these issues, see our ‘Election FAQs’.

Read and share new blogs and other writing from Jo Grady: In the last day, Jo has published blog posts on Academic-Related and Professional Services staff, university finances, climate change, and Brexit. She has also now published the text of her second all-member email, which focuses on casualisation and is scheduled to go out to the membership on Sunday morning.

Attend hustings: The timetable of remaining hustings is here. You can watch the recording of the one held at the University of Cambridge, which went very well and showcased Jo’s unique strengths as a candidate.

Use – and encourage others to use – #Grady4GS campaigning materials: All resources are gathered here. In particular:

You can download the I voted for Jo Grady! animated graphic and post on Twitter or Facebook.

You can print out posters in black and white and photocopy on coloured paper.

Subscriber list: Ask people to join our subscriber list. This is the only GDPR-compliant way we have to contact people.

Crowd funder: Printing and posting out campaign materials to ground teams is expensive. We have raised an amazing £2,911 so far: please help us reach our £3,000 target to cover these costs.

We can get Jo Grady elected as the next Gen Sec and transform our union. We’re counting on you!

Jo Grady and the #Grady4GS Team

Endorsement: Alan Bogg, University of Bristol

Endorsement from Professor Alan Bogg, University of Bristol

I am delighted to add my endorsement to Jo Grady’s candidacy. The crisis in Higher Education is systemic and political. Precarity, hostile environment policies, austerity, and the slow strangulation of a precious public good through pernicious metrics. We need a bold vision equal to those existential threats. Jo Grady’s manifesto provides one.

Endorsement: James Wilsdon, University of Sheffield

Endorsement from Professor James Wilsdon, University of Sheffield

What impresses me most about Jo’s manifesto is the coherent diagnosis it offers of the acute challenges confronting further and higher education, and its holistic strategy for tackling them. As someone who has campaigned on the need for more responsible uses of metrics and rankings in our sector (as the former chair of the independent government review that led to The Metric Tide report), I was particularly pleased to see Jo’s commitment to addressing this issue. As we say in that review, metrics hold real power: they are constitutive of values, identities and livelihoods. But poorly-designed and crudely-imposed metrics are now a growing problem in our universities and across the UK education system as a whole. Anyone with the energy and clarity of vision to resist the tide of irresponsible metrics that swirls around us would win my vote. So I’m pleased to be supporting #Grady4GS.

James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy, University of Sheffield. Chair, Campaign for Social Science. Former Chair, Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management.

Endorsement: Eric Lybeck, University of Manchester

Endorsement from Dr Eric Lybeck, University of Manchester

Here is Eric’s endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


My name is Eric Lybeck, a historical sociologist of universities at Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester.

In my research into the institutional and political dynamics of Higher Education I’ve come to learn that the primary thing missing from our sector is a clear representative voice for our profession.

Undoubtedly unions provide the representational role for us as employees relative to our employers, but we also need to remember more often that We Are The University, and We Are The Union. Of the candidates running for General Secretary of UCU, in my view Jo Grady fully understands the experiences of what it’s like to be on the frontlines of teaching, research, and professional service. In her manifesto she outlines a commanding and systemic understanding of the problems plaguing our sector, and delivers strategic and attainable means for improving our conditions.

Working with Jo at USSbriefs, I’ve seen time and time again her activist spirit, her knowledge of industrial relations, brought to bear in a combination of theory and practice that would be invaluable to the union.

I’ve also seen her earn the respect of wonks, media both trade press and national press, politicians and civil servants, and a lot of the issues that we face in our sector is actually misunderstanding by the public, by even those of us in other parts of the university, whether we are casualised staff, whether we are scientists working on research grants, or professional services under strain. What we really need is a communicator who can take these complex issues and translate them into understandable communications and actionable plans. And I’m undoubtedly confident that Jo Grady is the candidate to make this happen in this very important moment at our Union’s history.

Endorsement: Pip Marshall, UCU Yorkshire and Humber Regional Prison Rep (NOVUS)

Endorsement from Ms Pip Marshall, UCU Yorkshire and Humber Regional Prison Rep (NOVUS)

I am an active member in union work in the Prison Education Sector. UCU is in desperate need of strong membership in these turbulent times. I believe that Jo Grady can provide this. Jo Grady has the academic credentials that means she has a deep understanding of trade union matters. Even though that is something people can learn, what they cannot learn is passion, empathy and the ability to lead. Jo has these things in abundance. Basically, Jo cares about all the membership within the Union. Jo wants to change things in the Union for the benefit of all members and this can be clearly seen in her manifesto.

With Jo Grady, I believe the Union can be truly unified and become a strong force for education. It is an opportunity to vote in someone who knows what it is like on the front line and understands the needs of members. Jo has always spoken with care and consistency throughout her campaign, and is also extremely practical and solution focused. All these things we need in order to grow the Union and fight the oncoming issues. For these reasons, I urge you to vote for Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary.

Endorsement: Alan Bradshaw, Royal Holloway, University of London

Endorsement from Professor Alan Bradshaw, Royal Holloway, University of London

I have known Jo Grady for years as a friend, colleague, and comrade. I have closely observed her union activity and have attended academic events she has organised and read her papers. I have discussed politics and strategy with her both formally and informally. She is strong, she is fearless, and she is committed. She knows how to organise and she knows how to win.

Our profession has changed so much these past few years and the pace of continuous change is exhausting. Last year’s strike bore witness to what UCU can be. We need a person who understands the new landscape of universities, trade unions, and politics. Jo Grady is that person. She knows how to electrify this trade union and when we win, it will be brilliant. I shall be voting for Jo Grady and I encourage you all to do the same.

Endorsement: Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London

I am delighted to add my voice to those supporting Jo Grady’s candidature for General Secretary of the UCU. I have been following Jo on Twitter for quite a while now, since the most active period (so far) of our pensions dispute, when she proved an invaluable voice in explaining not only what was going on but what should be. I say ‘so far’ because, as we all knowor shouldthat dispute is far from over. Jo certainly knows that; I have every confidence in her determination to ensure that we all will.

‘Pensions’ is, of course, misleading in its narrowness of scope; this marked the first real moment of our fightback against neoliberalism in higher education. We began openly to discuss once again questions we should ask every day. What role can and should universities and education more generally play in shaping a more humane society?  What, indeed, is education, and what is it for? (Not: how should we measure something that cannot be measured?) What are solidarity and collegiality, and how can we further them? Such questions and others are, if anything, still more important in fighting the headlong turn towards casualisation. Many of us remember very well how colleagues on temporary contracts stood eager to defend our pensions; it is high time we did more to defend those less fortunate than ourselves.

From reading what Jo Grady has had to say over the past year or so, and from reading her manifesto, I am confident she will provide the voice we need on these and other issues, from tuition fees (wherever in the world students may come from) to the accountability recently so lacking in national union affairs. Most encouraging of all, Jo reminds us that ‘a manifesto is more than the sum of its parts’, that this is as much about engaging members, in building representation and solidarity, and in our leading rather than merely reacting to policy. There is no time to lose.

Endorsement: Jonathan Marsh, Cardiff University

Endorsement from Mr Jonathan Marsh, Cardiff University

I have got to know Jo Grady largely via Twitter over the past couple of years and have always been struck by how she not only clearly understands the real, and at times very difficult, problems that we face but also has the intellectual ability and creativity to suggest real solutions to those problems. I am very new to university teaching, having been a solicitor for over 15 years, before joining the law school in Cardiff, but I have always felt that Jo is the kind of person who will actually listen to the real concerns of ordinary, and in my case new, members without any self-serving judgment or motive.

It was a difficult decision for me to decide to join the pensions strike last year not least because I was so new to working within a university environment. But I felt that I received from Jo the support and courage, more so than anybody outside the fantastic Cardiff UCU team, to do what was the right thing.

I support all of Jo’s manifesto commitments particularly regarding marketisation and casualisation (and I speak from experience having been on a zero hours contract myself) but more than that I actually have total confidence that Jo’s emotional and intellectual strengths, together with her undoubted charisma, will provide the UCU with the leadership required during what will undoubtedly be a tough few years.

In short, I believe in Jo. And that is why I am delighted to be able to endorse her candidature for General Secretary. It is important that, unlike many previous elections, we have a high turnout in this election in order to send a deafening message to the universities that we believe in the importance of this union, and the role of our General Secretary, so please get voting as soon as you can and vote for Jo Grady!

Endorsement: Nadine Ansorg, University of Kent

Endorsement from Dr Nadine Ansorg, University of Kent

The ballot to elect UCU’s next General Secretary is open now, and I wholeheartedly support Jo Grady’s campaign and candidacy. I first heard from Jo during the pensions strike last yearshe was a very reliable (and funny!) go-to source for any questions related to pensions and the strike itself. In addition, USSbriefs which were co-initiated by Jo proved to be incredibly useful in discussions at our university and beyond.

But Jo Grady’s expertise and skills go far beyond the pension strike. For me, Jo is the candidate of the people. In her manifesto, she provides innovative ideas to transform the Union into an organisation that serves the members and involves them into all the main contentious issues we face in Higher Education. We sorely need such a grassroots union that fights in all our interests, and I strongly believe that this is possible with Jo.