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Concerns Raised Over Karl Leydecker’s Reappointment as Senior Vice Principal

Leydecker’s Role in The Push To Axe Modern Languages The Subject of Scrutiny


By Kirsten Koss

Professor Karl leydecker. Photo Credit: UoA

Karl Leydecker reappointed as Senior Vice Principal for another three-year term.

Hidden in the depths of the weekly newsletter sent to university staff was the news that from the 1st March 2024, Professor Karl Leydecker has been reappointed as the university’s Senior Vice Principal. Notably, news of the reappointment was not shared with students, or the wider public.

The news comes mere weeks after the culmination of the consultation of the future of modern languages, a process which helped transform Leydecker from a relatively unknown university bureaucrat to one of the most divisive figures on campus. 


When asked how his role as chair of the modern languages consultation steering group impacted the  reappointment of the controversial professor, a spokesperson from the University of Aberdeen ignored the question, instead reiterating the statement shared in the staff newsletter:


“Professor Karl Leydecker’s tenure as Senior Vice-Principal has been renewed for a period of three years from 1 March 2024. This follows a formal evaluation of performance and a consultation with members of the University Management Group, in accordance with our protocol for the appointment of Senior Vice-Principals and Vice-Principals.”


News of Professor Leydecker’s reappointment quickly soured the mood amongst staff and students with many levelling accusations that the former Professor of German’s attitude and performance during the language consultation had not been up to scratch. 


One member of professional services staff told The Gaudie:


“I hope that Professor Leydecker can learn from the past few months of chaos in relation to the Languages Consultation.


Threatening staff with redundancy, then turning around a week before strikes were meant to start and changing your mind, is not a good look."

As news of the reappointment made its way to students, students from across the university expressed anger that students were not officially informed of the decision. 


Kirsty Miller, a final year Sociology & Spanish and Latin American Studies student, and Save UoA Languages Campaigner shared her frustrations with The Gaudie stating:“I think it is quite frankly a disrespect to students that Karl Leydecker has been reappointed and students have not been informed. To the majority of us who have spent countless hours fighting to protect our language degrees from being destroyed by him and the rest of the senior management team, it feels like a slap in the face that he gets to continue in his role. I can’t say I have any faith that he won’t try and remove more degree programmes in his next three years.”


The alleged lack of transparency does not appear to be unfounded, with a search of the university’s website returning nothing of substance regarding the membership of the ambiguously named “University Management Group” who a university spokesperson told The Gaudie was consulted on the reappointment.


Expressing concern with the reappointment process, a third year History and English student said:

“Staff and students should be told what the criteria behind this evaluation was, otherwise, they cannot be expected to have any faith in the democratic process of reappointment.”


Cameron Greer, a second year Politics and Gaelic student agreed, taking his anger one step further, suggesting that it may be time for big changes in the Senior Management Team. Greer told the Gaudie:

“It’s laughably disappointing that the university administration has decided to reappoint the person who led the failed attempt to shut down the modern languages department as Senior VP and mock students further by failing to announce this decision to us or the public at large.

More disrespect, more poor decision making, more secrecy. Leydecker and Boyne must resign.”

Despite dividing the university community over the past few months, it seems that Karl Leydecker, and indeed the remainder of the SMT won’t be packing their offices up just yet.


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