University of Warwick Archive

Scope and Content

This collection includes: administrative and promotional records; papers of individuals associated with the university.

Administrative / Biographical History

The University of Warwick is a leading educational and research institution situated in Coventry in the West Midlands. It was granted its charter on 8th March 1965. The date of its foundation links it to the other "New Universities" at East Anglia, Kent, Lancaster, York and Sussex which were built during the same period to increase the number of university places nationwide.

Warwick owes its existence to the hard work and generosity of many individuals who played various roles in the processes leading up to its establishment. Among these are Sir Henry Rees (a lecturer in Geography at Coventry Technical College) who approached the Chairman of the University Grants Committee in 1958 with the idea for a university based in Coventry; Arthur Ling, Coventry's City Officer, who drew up a development plan as early as September of the same year; and members of Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and a group of leading local industrialists who formed the University Promotion Committee and its Executive Committee.

The University Promotion Committee helped ensure the success of a formal submission to the University Grants Committee for the new university. At its first meeting on 28th March 1960 at Coventry's Council House all those present pledged their support to the project. Representing Coventry City Council was Charles Barrett (the Town Clerk), the Heads of Finance, Education and Architecture and Aldermen Stringer and Callow. Also in attendance were Warwickshire County Council's Chairman and Education Committee Chairman, while Sir Arnold Hall, Managing Director of Bristol-Siddeley Engines, attended on behalf of the region's industrialists and deputised for Lord Rootes, (Director of the Rootes Group). Key members of the University Promotions Committee then went on to form an Executive Committee which had responsibility for overseeing the submission to the UGC, and subject to its approval, the launch of a Foundation Appeal. Sir Arnold Hall became its Vice Chairman, Lord Rootes was made the Chairman and Charles Barrett became Secretary. On 30th March 1960 "The Case for the Establishment of a University of Warwick" was sent to the University Grants Committee. Following a meeting with the UGC and a site visit, the backing of the government was announced on 18th May 1961.

The tasks of drafting its Charter and Statutes, of choosing the subjects to be taught, of appointing its first Vice-Chancellor and of selecting professors were assigned to the Academic Planning Board (with Charles Barrett as Secretary once again). It relied upon the Executive Committee to advise it on academic matters, which in turn set up its own sub-group to draw together the views of interested parties from the worlds of education, business and industry. The first meeting of the Academic Planning Board and the Executive Committee took place in May 1962. Other key dates from this period include February 1964, when the Charter and Statutes were approved, and April 1964 when the University's final Development Plan was published and fundraising got started. June 1964 work on a temporary campus at "The East Site" was underway and by autumn the first building on the Main Campus site (The Library) was being constructed. With the granting of the Charter, the first University of Warwick Council meeting took place on 27th April 1965 and the first undergraduates began their studies in October. The foundation of Warwick was complete with the presentation of its armorial bearings in 1966.

The Structure and Organization of Warwick University

According to its Charter and Statutes, the formal head of the University is the Chancellor, who is responsible for the promotion of the institution, raising funds and aiding the university's development. As head, the Chancellor also has the responsibility of conferring Warwick's degrees upon graduates. Warwick has had six Chancellors:

Lord Rootes (Chancellor-designate, died 12th December 1964)

Cyril John Viscount Radcliffe, GBE (Chancellor from 1965 until 1977)

The Right Honorable Lord Leslie George Scarman , PC, OBE (Chancellor from 1977 until 1989)

Sir Shridath Ramphal (Chancellor from 1989 until 31st January 2002)

Sir Nick Scheele (Chancellor from 8th March 2002 until 31st July 2007. Reappointed to serve for a further year from 1st August 2007)

Sir Richard Lambert (Took up position on 1st August 2008. Officially installed 10th December 2008)

Overseeing the management of the university is its chief academic and administrative officer - the Vice-Chancellor and President. The VC is a member of all the university's committees, some of which he chairs. John Blackstock Butterworth was made Warwick's first Vice-Chancellor in November 1962 and held the position until 1985. He was succeeded by Dr. Clark Brundin in the same year, who retained the post until 1992. Since then, three professors have fulfilled the duties of Vice-Chancellor: Sir Brian Follet (1993-2001), David VandeLinde (2001-2006) and Nigel Thrift (appointed in July 2006).

Assisting the Vice-Chancellor is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost to whom report the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, who are themselves engaged in specific academic concerns. The Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, meanwhile, acts as secretary to all the University's committees and has responsibility for every aspect of the University's administration. Finally, there is the Deputy Registrar, who oversees such areas as health and safety, internal auditing and legal services, the Academic Registrar and his staff, who provide a range of support services for students and staff, and the Group Finance Director (In the early days, the university's financial business was carried out by the Finance Officer).

Governing Bodies:

Council. The University's executive governing body with responsibility for the management of the University's income and property.

Senate. Chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and answerable to the Council, it manages the University's academic affairs.

Assembly. Another of the governing bodies described in the Charter and Statutes. It consists of academic and senior administrative staff and offers advice to Council and Senate. It can also appoint six members of Warwick's academic staff to the latter committee.

Court. Abolished 15th October 2009 following revisions to the Charter and Statutes. A formal public body whose members could raise concerns and draw attention to issues relating to the University and its work. It met once a year to receive Warwick's Annual Report and Accounts.

There is also a Senate Steering Committee (commonly referred to as the Steering Committee). Unlike the aforementioned committees this was established much later. It ensures that matters requiring the attention of Senate are referred to it and that relevant sections within the University structure are kept informed of decisions taken by Senate.

Various committees with specific remits (some of which have been subject to name changes over the years) report to either Council or Senate. Details of current committees can be found on the University's Governance web pages.

The Academic Structure of the University

Until 1973, the academic structure of the University consisted of Schools of Studies which belonged to Boards of Studies.

The Board of Studies for Arts contained the School of Literary Studies and the School of Historical Studies.

The Board of Social Studies, set up towards the end of 1968, contained the School of Economic and Industrial Studies and the School of Social and Political Studies.

The Board of Studies for Science contained the School of Studies for Science.

These were replaced by Boards of Faculties and Departments. Each Faculty Board has a chair and members drawn from the relevant departments. The Boards report to Senate on academic matters and meet throughout the academic year.

Access Information

Subject to permission from the University Registrar, this collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Other Finding Aids

Related Material

The Modern Records Centre also holds the records of the National Union of Students (the NUS), the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (the CVCP), the Association of University Teachers (the AUT) and the papers of Sir Arthur Vick (Chairman of Council at Warwick University from 1977-90 and Pro-Chancellor from 1977-92).