George Bain (academic)
Sir George Sayers Bain, a Canadian by birth born in Winnipeg and attended Miles MacDonell Collegiate, was President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2004.
Bain studied economics and political science at the University of Manitoba and taught there in 1962-3. He then proceeded to the University of Oxford where he took a D.Phil in industrial relations. He subsequently pursued his academic career at Nuffield College, Oxford; the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology; the University of Warwick, where he was Chairman of the School of Industrial and Business Studies between 1983 and 1989; and finally the London Business School, where he was Principal between 1989 and 1997.
He was a member of the Committee of Inquiry into Industrial Democracy chaired by Lord Bullock in 1976-7, of the Senior Salaries Review Body during 1993-6, and was Chairman of the Low Pay Commission during 1997-2002, the Work and Parents Taskforce in 2001, and the Independent Review of the Fire Service in 2002.
He is a non-executive director of Bombardier Aerospace, Canada Life Group (UK) Ltd, the Canada Life Capital Corporation, Electra Investment Trust Plc and Iain More Associates Ltd. He holds eleven honorary doctorates and was knighted in 2001.
Career at Queen's
Bain's gregarious and extrovert personality was in marked contrast to the sombre leadership offered by his predecessor Sir Gordon Beveridge. The latter's tenure was marked by an acrimonious dispute within, and without the University over symbols and the use of the national anthem at graduations ceremonies. Bain pushed Queen's further up the research league table, the RAE but as this was achieved in part by the axing of long-standing departments like Geology, Classics and Irish Studies he suffered from a letter-writing campaign in the Belfast press from supporters of the staff whose posts were closed.
Perhaps the most public disappointment of his time at the helm of Belfast's senior university was the failure of the £60 million "Lanyon II" campaign to create a new 'student village'. The self-styled pressure-group "QUB Watch" also kept him under relentless scrutiny over the closure of the Armagh campus, and over what it considered his failure to reduce the number of cases of religious discrimination being taken against the university by members of staff.
His tenure at Queen's was also notable for a successful fundraising campaign for the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre and for a new Library building.
Independent Review of the Fire Service
Bain was asked to chair a Government-funded Independent Review of the Fire Service in 2002, it was wide-ranging and placed fire and rescue services in the UK under close scrutiny - it led to strike action by fire-fighters, shortly before the report's publication, although the FBU and fire and rescue services had been in tense negotiations for a year before. Sir Anthony Young and Professor Sir Michael Lyons co-authored the review. The Bain Review was presented to the Deputy Prime Minister on 16 December 2002, but a position paper was delivered earlier. Sir George said "Taking into account the very generous pension entitlement, the holiday arrangements, the good job security, firemen are actually not badly rewarded. The recruitment and retention figures back this up. There's about 40 applications for every vacancy in the fire service."
- "About the Independent Review and its Chair" www.irfs.org.uk, retrieved 2 May 2006
- "Queen's appoints new Vice-Chancellor" Queen's University Belfast press release, 2004
- "Classics closure decision must be reversed" Belfast Telegraph, 21 May 2003
- "Queen's postpones £60m development" Belfast Telegraph, 30 May 2002
- "University to close campus" BBC website, 5 May 2004
- "Senior Catholic employee paid £150,000 in religious discrimination claim" Socialist Worker Online, 23 November 2002
- "Independent Review of the Fire Service", www.irfs.org.uk, retrieved 2 May 2006
- "Independent Review publishes position paper", www.irfs.org.uk, retrieved 2 May 2006
- "Fire union condemns 'insulting' pay deal", BBC news web site, retrieved 2 May 2006
Sir Gordon Beveridge
|President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
Professor Peter Gregson