from: "Phillip Williamson" <PWILatXYZxyz.nerc.ac.uk>
subject: Re: PRESCIENT
to: <shepherdatXYZxyzo.columbia.edu>, <k.briffaatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
John - and Keith
With NERC there is a genuine choice between cock-up and conspiracy.
The former category covers events taking an order of magnitude greater
than they ought to, without anyone really being to blame.
In the case of PRESCIENT, a suitable Chair for the Steering Committee
was identified - and invited - some months ago. He/she did not
immediately accept, then spent some time abroad, not replying to
emails before deciding to decline. An alternative Chair was then
identified, invited and has now (last Friday) accepted: Tom Wigley.
The shortlistof suggestions for other members of the SC will be
discussed with Tom asap, so that the group can hold its first meeting
and get the programme underway - issueing the AO etc.
Given the above situation (as described to me this morning by Liz
Feldman of the ESTB group) I don't think it would be either necessary
or desirable to hassle Simon C-M (who may not anyway yet be aware of
the most recent developments).
As a general comment, NERC has made life more difficult for itself by
now emphasising the need for the Chair for thematic programmes to be
as independent as possible - debarring (in most cases) UK academics.
There is also reluctance to appoint programme proposers to the SC, on
the basis that that only strengthens their "inside track" knowledge of
the programme (and hence gives an unfair advantage when bidding for
support). But the need for some continuity of conceptual development
is also recognised... so a balance has to be struck.