Robert Mull, dean of the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass) at London Metropolitan University, has resigned over the university’s plans to move the faculty to a new site. Mull had earlier been suspended from his role having expressed his disagreement with the proposals.
The move, which has attracted strong opposition and was recently discussed in the House of Lords, involves the sale and demolition of the current Cass building in Central House, Aldgate, with the faculty being relocated to the university’s main base on north London’s Holloway Road.
A statement released on Friday from London Metropolitan University said: “Professor Mull felt that his position as dean had become untenable after he was unable to fully support the university’s £125 million project to create a new home for our Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design in Islington.”
The statement added that Mull, who oversaw the merger of the art and architecture faculties to create the Cass three years ago, was offered the opportunity to continue as director of architecture in the Cass but declined.
The vice chancellor of London Met, John Rafferty, said: “Obviously, the leader of the Cass must believe in its future direction, so I respect Robert’s decision to resign. Andrew Stone has been appointed acting dean of the Cass as we proceed with our multi-million pound investment in arts education. I urge students and staff to support Andy as he leads the Cass in its next exciting stage of development.”
Following Mull’s suspension in response to his criticism of the scheme, Cass students staged a week-long occupation of the faculty.
In a sign that discontent with the university’s plans is deepening, Mull’s resignation on Friday was swiftly followed by that of Helen Mallinson, director of Cass Culture and head of the school of architecture in 1990s. Speaking to bdonline.co.uk, Mallinson said: “I have complete support for Robert as dean. He hasn’t walked out of a place he has helped build and create lightly.
“I have worked here for 30 years in different capacities and have been totally loyal to the values the university represents. But the reputation of the university is at stake. This isn’t about a simple matter of location. It’s also about the values that are intrinsic to higher education.”
The campaign against the proposals for The Cass have attracted high-profile support from the worlds of art and architecture, including Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, the architects Lord Rogers and David Chipperfield, and artist Anish Kapoor.
Speaking to a-n News recently, the artist and Cass associate professor Bob and Roberta Smith said: “I hope the governors of London Met come to their senses and realise that London Met’s role in the social and artistic fabric of the capital is unique and powerful. We must save the Cass and extend London Met’s ability to educate generations of Londoners and offer opportunity and hope.”
An online petition against the proposals has so far attracted nearly 3000 signatures.