Triumph of good practice

The Oxford I arrived at in 1997 was pretty much controlled by academics, but lately the bureaucrats have surged. Here are a pair of examples from my department and my college.

In the Maths Institute, I am contractually appointed as Head of the Numerical Analysis Group. For sixteen years, in three buildings, that meant I had a key to NA Group office doors.  Not any more. In our swish new Andrew Wiles Building, it has been decided that to give the head of the group access to NA Group offices would not be good practice. Of course the cleaning staff, the computer staff, and the facilities management staff all have access.

In Balliol, our library holds the Transactions of the Royal Society going right back to the 1660s. Twice in past years I’ve asked for the librarian to unlock the cabinet so I could spend an hour looking at these inspiring volumes.  But I’ve just arranged to do this once again, and times have changed. Now, the librarian will be in the room to monitor me. Though I am one of the most senior fellows of the college, and legally responsible as a Trustee for its property, it would not be good practice to let me touch Phil Trans Roy Soc unsupervised. Of course the library staff can handle these volumes any time they like.

[21 November 2015]

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