Plymouth University agrees to spend £150,000 on seven chairs

Deputy Vice-Chancellor David Coslett
Image caption David Coslett said the chairs were important for the university

Plymouth University has agreed to spend £150,000 on seven chairs for graduation ceremonies, it is understood.

The university's senior management team commissioned the handcrafted chairs by furniture designer John Makepeace.

In an email seen by the BBC, the university's PR department warned this could cause reputational damage.

Professor David Coslett, deputy vice chancellor, said the university hoped to pay for the chairs through "private donations and charitable foundations".

Prof Coslett said Plymouth University's annual graduation week attracted more than 25,000 students and guests and injected about £700,000 into the city's economy.

"The planned commissioning of new graduation furniture is the next stage in the development of our graduation ceremonies," he said.

John Makepeace

  • Born in Solihull in 1939, one of five children
  • Awarded an OBE in 1988 for services to furniture design
  • Received lifetime achievement awards from the American Furniture Society in 2004 and the Furniture Makers Company in 2010
  • Honorary Fellow of the Arts at the University of Bournemouth
  • Currently based in Beaminster, Dorset


The design and cost of the chairs are yet to be confirmed, but sources have told the BBC the project is due to cost more than £150,000.

The news comes as the university undergoes separate investigations into the conduct of chairman William Taylor, and vice chancellor Wendy Purcell.

Mr Taylor, a retired judge, has stood aside after claims of sexual harassment were made by a number of women and students.

The claims were submitted by Prof Purcell, who is currently suspended while a separate investigation is held into her conduct.

The university is yet to reveal the reason for her suspension.

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