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University of Leicester threatens removal of Professor Emeritus title over social media activity

Written by Toby Cray

The University of Leicester have threatened to remove the title of Professor Emeritus from the retired academic Peter Armstrong over his social media activity.

Professor Armstrong has been a prominent critique on Twitter of the university’s disinvestments proposals.

On 31 March Professor Armstrong posted on his Twitter account:

“More dignity and respect from @uniofleicester

’If [your] social media activity continues in the same manner as I have outlined, the University will recommend to Council that the title of Professor Emeritus conferred in you by Council be removed.

If approved, we would no longer support the privileges associated with the title which includes access to the library and the provision of an IT account.

Yours Sincerely,

Professor Henrietta O’Connor’”

The university has been previously accused by academics of monitoring staff’s social media accounts, as trust between staff and the university appears low.

Jo Grady, the UCU general secretary, responded to this on Twitter by posting:

“Given the reputational damage being inflicted upon Leicester by its senior managers, you might expect Council to scrutinise their behaviour. Not that of staff and Emeritus Professors on twitter.”

The Leicester UCU branch then responded to this on Twitter by posting:

“This is a particularly egregious and disrespectful example, which goes beyond the pale on so many levels, but Peter is not alone. 

“Current members of staff are being subjected to even more draconian disciplinary procedures in an attempt to silence all criticism of Management.”

Professor Armstrong later tweeted: “I have amended my profile page to read ‘Former Prof. Emeritus . . . ‘”

The university has said that they cannot comment on individual cases, but has provided the following statement:

“The University champions free speech and academic freedom. All members of the University community are expected to behave with respect and courtesy at all times, and adhere to the values and behaviours outlined in our Dignity and Respect policy.

“We are firmly committed to creating an inclusive learning, working and research environment characterised by respect and dignity, and free from harassment, bullying, abuse and discrimination.

“We take any reports of unacceptable behaviours seriously and will investigate any concerns raised, taking action where necessary.”


Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Instagram here: @toby5.c

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