Robert Mull, former Dean of London Metropolitan University's Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design—also known as 'The Cass'—has resigned over a dispute about proposed relocation plans for the school's campus in Aldgate, East London. As reported in The Independent, campaigners argue that the move, which was first announced in October 2015 by the university's Vice Chancellor John Raftery, would cause courses and jobs to be unnecessarily cut. The university's vision, named 'One Campus, One Community', aims to invest £125million ($185million) to create "a new, single campus in Islington, north London, bringing all of the [university's] faculties together on one site for the first time in the institution’s 170-year history."
The proposal, purportedly supported by student feedback, has been met by backlash from students, alumni and practitioners alike. A petition which has garnered over 3000 signatures in less than two months states that "the proposed closure of The Cass and Moorgate campuses represents a massive attack on students, staff and access to education." In an open letter published in The Observer, people including Sir Nicholas Serota (director of the Tate), Lord Richard Rogers, Sir David Chipperfield, Eric Parry, Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Deller, Florian Beigel, Philip Christou, Peter Carl, and Peter St. John have called for "London Metropolitan [University] to pursue a two-site solution that keeps the education of art, making and design alive and kicking where The Cass began – in London’s East End. [read on]"
Mull, who was suspended earlier this month prior to his resignation, has not yet spoken publicly about his decision. Following his resignation Helen Mallinson, former Director of Cass Culture, also took her leave citing that "the reputation of the university is at stake." She continued by stating that "this isn't about a simple matter of location. It's also about the values that are intrinsic to higher education." Andrew Stone has since been appointed as Acting Dean of The Cass.
The full statement from London Metropolitan University reads as follows:
We can confirm that professor Robert Mull has resigned from London Metropolitan University. Professor Mull felt that his position as dean had become untenable after he was unable to fully support the University's £125million project to create a new home for our Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design in Islington. The vice chancellor offered professor Mull the opportunity to continue as director of architecture in The Cass in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the faculty, but he was unable to agree.
Professor Raftery, vice chancellor of London Met, said: "I want to thank Robert for the amazing work he has done during his role as dean of The Cass. He was instrumental in overseeing the merger between our Faculty of Architecture and Spatial Design and Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Media and Design to create The Cass three years' ago, and he has done tremendous work establishing its reputation since. We have no intention to break up this model, and are investing heavily to ensure The Cass has the studio spaces and workshops it requires in its new home. Staff and students are invited to work with us over the coming months in developing these new facilities."
"Obviously, the leader of The Cass must believe in its future direction, so I respect Robert's decision to resign. Andrew Stone has been appointed acting dean of The Cass as we proceed with our multi-million pound investment in arts education. I urge students and staff to support Andy as he leads The Cass in its next exciting stage of development."