A senior businessman who sits on the highest executive body in the University has stepped down after a group of dons launched an offensive to block his re-election.Sir Victor Blank, who is also Chairman of Lloyds TSB and a friend of the Prime Minister, announced on Tuesday (September 11) that he would not be pursuing a third term on the University Council.Council is the senior executive body in the University. It is composed of 26 members , four of whom are appointed from outside the University. These ‘external’ members have been at the heart of controversy surrounding Vice Chancellor John Hood’s reform package that was sunk by Congregation in December.Council approved Sir Victor’s re-election by 15 – 2 but almost 250 members of Congregation signed a motion to force a debate and vote in the body described as the University’s ‘Parliament’. Sir Victor announced that he would stand down ahead of the vote scheduled for 26 September.The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Sir Victor was keen to face Congregation but was persuaded not to by the Vice Chancellor to protect the reputation of the University.Despite standing down from Council, sources close to the body say that Sir Victor will continue to sit on the committee responsible for deciding whether John Hood will be nominated for re-election as Vice Chancellor when his current term expires in September 2009. Sir Victor chaired the committee that initially nominated Hood in 2004.Sir Victor was a key ally of Hood and used his business skills to promote a modernising agenda at the highest levels of University government.Bernard Taylor, another external member of Council, is also due for re-election. Dons in Congregation have not opposed him continuing in his post, focussing instead on Sir Victor.Council issued a statement praising Sir Victor’s “invaluable wisdom, insight, and expertise on many important issues facing the University during his time as a member”.Cherwell24 is not responsible for the content of external links.