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Royal College of Art in race row


Royal College of Art drops white, middle-aged man from new diversity chief job after tutors said the appointment showed a ‘hideous culture of overt and insidious systemic racism’

  • Some 800 former and current staff of the Royal College of Art signed the letter
  • They have criticised the appointment of Mark Harrison as their head of diversity 
  • Alumni of the college include Henry Moore, Tracey Emin and David Hockney 
  • The college later rescinded Mr Harrison’s job offer following the controversy  

Staff at the Royal College of Art have criticised the appointment of Mark Harrison, pictured, as the institution’s head of diversity. The position was later withdrawn

The Royal College of Art has withdrawn the job offer it made for a diversity champion after tutors and staff rebelled because it was  given to a white middle-aged man. 

VIce-chancellor Paul Thompson handed the position to Mark Harrison, who had previously worked in a similar position at the University of London. 

But a letter signed by academic staff claimed the college had fostered a ‘hideous culture of overt and insidious systemic racism’.

After news of the letter emerged the RCA announced it had withdrawn the offer and would change the job specifications and title.

‘We will reopen the search for a head of equality and diversity in the new academic year,’ a college spokesman told the Times.

The letter has been signed by more than 800 former and current staff at the college which boasts Henry Moore, Tracey Emin and David Hockney amongst its alumni. 

The letter has also been signed by all four winners of this year’s Turner prize, Tai Shani, Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Helen Cammock. 

The letter criticised Mr Harrison’s appointment at a time of mass protest around the violent marginalisation of black people from society’. 

Staff said the role should have gone to someone from a more diverse background. 

Some 19 per cent of staff are from ethnic minorities while that figure falls to 13 per cent when it comes to academic jobs. 

The college told The TImes: ‘Transformational progress on [eradicating racism] is vital to the development of the entire RCA.’

The college later withdrew the job offer as a result of the controversy.  

MailOnline has approached the RCA for a comment. 

The letter from academics was sent to Dr Paul Thompson, pictured

The letter from academics was sent to Dr Paul Thompson, pictured

Some 800 former and current staff members have sent a letter to the college, pictured, to criticise Mr Harrison’s appointment

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