Letter to the editor—There is no threat to the Warburg
The University of London is not “trying to curtail the Warburg’s independence” but instead respects, and takes great pride in, its unique character
By Graeme Davies. Comment, Issue 216, September 2010
Published online: 01 October 2010
The Warburg Institute is not “fighting for its life”, as stated in The Art Newspaper (July/August, p29). The University of London has absolutely no intention of closing or moving the Warburg Institute or merging its unique book and photographic collection into another institution. The university is not “trying to curtail the Warburg’s independence” but instead respects, and takes great pride in, its unique character.
The institute is part of the university and continues to be governed through the Board of the School of Advanced Study, a body of ten prestigious institutes, which reports to the university’s Collegiate Council.
The article reflects a misunderstanding of the current structure and governance arrangements of both the university and its central libraries. It states, for example, that University College (UCL) has left the university, when UCL, in fact, remains one of the 19 colleges that make up the University of London. It also implies that the University of London governs these colleges when they are in reality self-governing.
Six years ago the Warburg Institute agreed to a process of convergence with the University of London’s central academic libraries. This means introducing efficiencies and shared budgets, but leaves the development of the collection in the hands of the institute.
It is not correct, as stated, that “the institute itself was not represented on the board to appoint the successor to the current director.” The interview panel included both the chairman of the Warburg Institute’s advisory panel and a member of the Warburg family.
The University of London is very conscious of its obligations as trustee of the Warburg Institute and is examining the best way to secure the future of the institute.
Much has changed since the institute became part of the university in 1944 and, as a result, the university is giving consideration to seeking an alteration to the terms of the Trust Deed of 1944 to make it more appropriate in the current circumstances. These deliberations are being carried out with the full involvement of other interested parties, including the advisory council to the Warburg Institute.
—Graeme Davies, vice-chancellor, University of London
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