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25th November 2022

Christopher Jackson leaves the University of Manchester following racism row

Christopher Jackson has left the University of Manchester after a row with Vice-President Martin Schröder over “institutional racism”
Christopher Jackson leaves the University of Manchester following racism row
Photo: University of ManchesterPhoto: Flickr @VitaStudent

Dr Christopher Jackson, a geoscientist, left the University of Manchester in June 2022 after calling scientific research positions “institutionally racist”.

In 2021, he told the BBC that UK research was “definitely institutionally racist”.

Days later he received an email from Martin Schröder, a Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, saying that he did not believe that the University was ‘institutionally racist.

Schröder attached an article written by Mercy Muroki, a member of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities for right-wing media outlet GB News. The Commission was criticised by many, such as prominent historian David Olusoga, for wanting to ‘brush history under the carpet’.

The email was also sent to five other members of staff, three of whom were senior to Jackson. Jackson interpreted this email as a personal attack on his beliefs and, despite an apology from Schröder, filed a grievance with the University.

After an internal investigation, the University found that Schröder’s actions were unintentional and that there was a lack of awareness of the challenges minorities in academia faced within the senior leadership team.

Schröder was instructed to formally apologise to Jackson and training for all staff members was recommended. Despite this, Jackson left his post at the University of Manchester in June 2022 for industry.

Upon his exit, he stated that: “The incident here contributed to my decision to leave … It certainly did not give me a reason to stay”.

In late 2021, Jackson said that he had seen a rise in racist abuse in the past four years, following him receiving a letter that told him to “go live in the Caribbean”.

Professor Christopher Jackson letter
Snippet of a racist letter Professor Jackson received before leaving his post at UoM. Photo: Twitter.

He reported the letter to the Greater Manchester Police but was told that the force would not be taking the issue any further.

When contacted for comment, Adèle MacKinlay, Director of People and Organisational development at The University of Manchester, said:

“Our internal investigation into this matter concluded some time ago and we are focused on ensuring that the recommendations and actions from the report are taken forward. Professor Martin Schröder was keen to engage with this process and fully understands that colleagues involved have been impacted deeply.”

“We have made Professor Jackson aware of the report’s findings and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him every success in his future career.”

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