The same, but different
Last week’s lengthy feature in Times Higher Education on the reaction of seven scholars to the exciting news that they had been promoted to “professor” has reopened old wounds at our university.
According to Professor Murray Bund of the Department of Economics, the traditional status of “professor” within Poppleton has been “dramatically diminished” by its conferment upon an ever-increasing number of administrators. “This process shows no sign of halting,” he told The Poppletonian. “Only last week the Deputy Head of Campus Car Parking was put forward for a Readership.”
Professor Bund believes that the only way in which the situation can be remedied is for all professors who achieved their status solely on academic grounds to adjust their title to one that gives a firm indication of this achievement. He is accordingly now asking colleagues and students at Poppleton to refer to him on all occasions as Professor Professor Murray Bund.
This move has not been well received by our leading managers. Professor Jamie Didcot, who received his chair for “outstanding services to staff bike sheds”, described Professor Bund’s action as “disappointingly elitist”.
(Suggestions that administrative professors might now retaliate by describing themselves as Professor Professor Professor have been dismissed as “purely speculative”.)
“A shocking development.”
“I never thought it would happen in my managerial lifetime.”
“There could be profound and dangerous consequences.”
These were just a few of the reactions from senior members of our administrative staff to the news that the vice-chancellor of the Open University, Peter Horrocks, had “apologised” to staff for the manner in which the OU’s new Group Tuition Policy had been implemented.
One leading administrator told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that although there was good evidence that the implementation of the OU Group Tuition Policy had been “a complete and utter shambles”, with management failing to listen to a wide range of staff concerns about the effects upon students of closing down regional offices, it was quite unprecedented in the annals of modern university maladministration for a vice-chancellor to accept any blame.
Members of our academic staff also expressed surprise and shock at Mr Horrocks’ action. Mr Ted Odgers of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies told Ponting that he’d been “gobsmacked” by the apology.
“Just look at the craven manner in which the vice-chancellors and their dining club, the UCU, have caved in before every single regressive governmental change to higher education! Have vice-chancellors ever apologised for giving way on tuition fees or for failing to question the validity and reliability of the research excellence framework and the forthcoming teaching excellence framework? Have vice-chancellors ever apologised for rolling over and allowing the pillage of higher education by for-profit providers? Have vice-chancellors ever apologised for accepting annual pay rises that outflank those currently being handed out to bankers and hedge fund managers?” 1
We contacted our own vice-chancellor in Tahiti where he is currently attending a global world university conference on Improving Access. Did he ever feel the need to apologise? Not at all. The young woman in his hotel room the night before had been a conference administrator and he himself had only been in his underpants “because of the heat”.
1 Mr Horrocks’ present remuneration is £354,000 per annum.