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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Bentham ‘present but not voting’

By Nick J Booth, on 12 July 2013

Jeremy Bentham prepares for the meeting.

Jeremy Bentham prepares for the meeting.

Tuesday 9th July marked the day that the retiring Provost, Sir Malcolm Grant, attended his final UCL Council meeting. UCL Museums marked this by doing something a little bit special…

Most people know that Jeremy Bentham, the spiritual founder of UCL, attends every UCL Council meeting. He is always recorded as ‘present but not voting’, except when the Council is split on a motion. On those rare occasions he gets a vote, and always votes in favour of the motion, due to his mischievous personality.

It’s a brilliant story, it has everything: a dead body, academic eccentricity, reanimation of a corpse, ancient tradition…what’s not to love? Except, unfortunately, it’s a myth. One of the many legends that have built up around the ‘old radical’ that I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed. (more…)