Open letter in support of Jo Grady’s campaign for UCU General Secretary

To fellow UCU members

We write as former colleagues of Jo Grady, who knew her as fellow employees of the University of Leicester. Some of us remain employed by that institution; others, like Jo, have moved on. The past four-and-a-half years have been particularly challenging ones for the University of Leicester and its staff. Under the vice-chancellorship of Paul Boyle, who arrived in September 2014, we have faced several attempts to sack staff wholesale as well as multiple ‘transformation’ projects, all of which has created a good deal of stress and anxiety for rank-and-file academic and academic-related staff as well as our colleagues in professional services. Those of us, like Jo, who work or worked in the School of Business also suffered due to the forced merger of the School of Management and the Department of Economics, the resultant and wholesale restructuring this brought about and a move to a satellite campus, none of which was welcomed by any of the signatories to this letter. These developments did much to destroy both departments’ spirit and vibrant bottom-up cultures.

We fought these attacks at every step of the wayfrequently with great successand we remember Jo being at the forefront of these battles. Jo played a number of roles in Leicester UCU. For several years she was both a departmental rep and a member of the branch committee. For one spell she was co-secretary of the branch. All of our campaigns were grassroots, rank-and-filelike most branches, we have never had much support from Carlow Streetand Jo provided organic and strategic leadership in these campaigns. When the situation required it, she was prepared to step forward, representing our case both to senior managers and to the public. On one memorable occasion, she calmly and confidently took apart the institution’s finance director live on BBC Radio Leicester. We remember Jo for her honesty, quick wit, compassion and authenticity.

Given Jo’s qualities and her experience, we are delighted that she is running to be general secretary of our union. All is not well with UCU. We are convinced that Jo Gradysupported by the vigorous grassroots movements that have emerged (at least in pre-92 universities) in the past yearis the sort of person we would like to see assume this position. We wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy and urge other UCU members to do the same.

Signatories (52)

David Harvie, University of Leicester, Associate Professor of Finance and Political Economy; Leicester UCU Communications Officer
Jo Brewis, Open University, Professor of People and Organisations
Chris Grocott, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Management and Economic History
Thomas Swann, Loughborough University, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Keir Milburn, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Political Economy and Organisation
Nicholas Beuret, University of Essex, Lecturer
Gavin Brown, University of Leicester, Professor of Political Geography
Marco Checchi, De Montfort University, Lecturer in Business and Management
Mirjam Twigt, Research Officer
Steve Brown, Open University, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology
Ulrike Marx, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Accounting
Claire English, Queen Mary, University of London, Associate Lecturer
Laura Freeman, University of Leicester
Bloeme Bergmann, Former Senior International Officer at University of Leicester
Edward Yates, University of Sheffield, Lecturer in Employment Relations
Angela Last, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Human Geography
Kenneth Weir, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Accountancy
George Kokkinidis, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Work and Organisation
Simon Lilley, University of Leicester, Professor and Head of Head of Management and Organisation Division
Steve Conway, University of Leicester, Associate Professor in Innovation
Daniela Aidley, University of Applied Sciences Westkueste, Professor in Business Psychology
Charlie Smith, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Management
Chris Land, Anglia Ruskin University, Professor of Work and Organisation
Matteo Ciccognani, University of Leicester, Teaching Fellow
Rose Holyoak, University of Winchester, Lecturer in Sociology
Martin Parker, University of Bristol, Professor of Organisation Studies
Chloe Vitry, Lancaster University, Senior Reaching Associate
Maria Puig de La Bellacasa, University of Warwick, Associate Professor
Christiana Tsaousi, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Marketing and Consumption
Simon Parker, University of Nottingham, Assistant Professor
Mandi Jamalian, University of Leicester, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Maddalena Tacchetti, University of Nottingham
Eda Ulus, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Work and Organisation
Marton Racz, City, University of London, Research Fellow
Georgios Patsiaouras, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Marketing and Consumption
Nicolas Vass, University of Leicester
Matthew Allen, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Economic Anthropology
Alan Bradshaw, Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor of Marketing
Irina Cheresheva, University of Leicester, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Sara Thornton, University of Leicester, Postdoctoral Fellow
Athina Karatzogianni, University of Leicester, Associate Professor
Jodie Hannis, University of Leicester, PhD researcher
Selina Lock, University of Leicester, Library Research Services Consultant
Helen Eborall, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Social Science Applied to Health
Martin Quinn, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Regional Development
Juliana Mainard-Sardon, University of Leicester, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Hela Hassen, University of Leicester, Teaching Fellow in Marketing
Fabian Frenzel, University of Leicester, Associate Professor in the Political Economy of Organisation
Mark Burridge, University of Leicester, Lecturer in Management
Doris Ruth Eikhof, University of Leicester, Associate Professor in Work and Employment
Gibson Burrell, University of Leicester and University of Manchester, Professor of Organisation Theory
Ian Parker, Central Manchester Foundation Trust, Honorary Professorial Research Fellow

Comments (12)

  • I struggled with Jo. She is great!
  • I entirely support Jo’s candidacy for UCU GS.
  • A grassroots trade unionist for General Secretary? Yes please!
  • I left the University of Leicester in 2017, in part because of the complete shambles the tenure of Paul Boyle was making of university leadership. I have since left UK Higher Education altogether, because of Brexit. I remember Jo as being tenacious, fighting for the rights of academics as well as support staff, calling out university leadership every step of the way, and tirelessly working to stop the mass layoffs the university falsely claimed would cure all ills (unsuccessfully attempting to close the break-even/small profit Maths department comes to mind). I am no longer a UCU member, as I no longer live and work in the UK, but I fully believe Jo has what it takes to lead UCU during these tough times of austerity, blatant money grabs, and Brexit.
  • Jo was an excellent and committed colleague at Leicester and I’ve no doubt that her enthusiasm and energy will invigorate UCU, like it did in our local branch.
  • Jo was an excellent colleague and comrade. I’m delighted she’s standing in this election and urge you all to give her your vote.
  • I support Jo every step of the way, just like she did for us when she was at Leicester. Things will change for the better with her election.
  • As a PhD student at the University of Leicester during the disastrous change in leadership from Bob Burgess to Paul Boyle, I have a huge degree of respect for Jo’s work in the union and her commitment to her colleagues. Jo is exactly the kind of GS that UCU needs if it is to mobilise rank-and-file members to tackle the myriad threats facing further and higher education in the UK.
  • I worked with Jo at Leicester, so have seen her energy and commitment at first hand.
  • I was thrilled to see that Jo is running for UCU general secretary! At so many levels, politically, professionally and personally Jo is the kind of person we need to face the current challenges. Go Jo!
  • At Leicester I have experienced Jo’s concern and incredible organising for staff working conditions, and against organisational injustices. I enthusiastically support Jo’s campaign!
  • She is incredibly committed and I greatly support Jo’s campaign!

Image: Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester, by NotFromUtrecht (2011), Wikimedia Commons.