Laurie Taylor – 15 September 2016

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

September 15, 2016
Woman escaping through a window, France, 1935
Source: Rex
The misfits: ‘we don’t belong’

Human belongings

This week saw the publication of a campus-wide survey into the phenomenon of “impostorism”, the sense that one does not properly belong to the institution in which one works.

Introducing the results at a press conference in the atrium of the Jo Johnson Mindfulness Centre, our corporate director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, explained that this sense, originally identified by Jessica Collett, associate professor of sociology at Notre Dame University, was said to affect both students and members of staff.

In the survey, she had concentrated on the extent of “impostorism feeling” in the latter group by asking Poppleton academics to indicate the degree to which they felt “at home” on campus, and the extent of their worries about being out of their depth “in the prevailing intellectual atmosphere”.

Ms Bimpson admitted that the results painted “a mixed picture”. For whereas 32 per cent of those surveyed agreed that they felt “more at home in Legoland” than on the Poppleton campus, and a further 28 per cent admitted that they could get through the day only by imagining that they were at some other university, a solid 34 per cent said they had “never for one moment” felt out of their depth in the prevailing intellectual atmosphere at Poppleton.

In response to questions, Ms Bimpson admitted that a further question had asked respondents to name anyone in the university who was plainly an impostor. However, she declined to reveal the person selected by 92 per cent of the sample on the grounds that it might affect his already prevailing sense of not properly belonging to Universities UK.

Group of men forming community speed check team

Working on the chain gang

“Another excellent initiative from Elsevier!”

That was how Brian Bryan, our deputy head of REF strategy, responded to the news that the illustrious publishing company was seeking to cut the time that peer reviewers spend writing their reports by publishing a ranking of their relative submission speeds.

Mr Bryan said that he shared Elsevier’s frustration with slow-moving academics. “I notice that the profits for Elsevier’s parent company RELX Group slumped in 2014 from over £1 billion to a mere £955 million, before recovering this year to over £1 billion again. One cannot help but wonder if these fluctuations were in any way due to the dilatoriness of the peer reviewers for some of Elsevier’s 2,500 journals.”

Mr Bryan brusquely dismissed the alternative suggestion that Elsevier might improve submission speeds if it chose to pay its peer reviewers. “The last thing anyone would want to do is introduce anything so crass as hard cash into the long-standing and honourable traditional of academics offering their free services to an international profit-making company that enjoys a near monopoly position in the journal market.”

Trust me, I’m a manager

Our Head of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has responded to the growing demand for an “academic management excellence framework” that would parallel the teaching excellence framework and the research excellence framework by using a variety of indices to measure the output of university administrators.

Mr Targett pointed out that in many respects, management was, much like the love of God, in essence immeasurable. However, in view of the demand, he had already reacted positively by setting up two management measurement subcommittees and a management measurement working party. He was also advertising four new measuring management management posts. He hoped this clarified the situation.

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