Laurie Taylor – 31 March 2016

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

March 31, 2016
Person in scuba gear emerging from bog
Source: Alamy
Bog standard or professor in herbology?

Perfectly proper professors

One of our leading managers, Ted Loam of Estates and Gardens, has joined a number of other leading Poppleton professors in describing a recent Times Higher Education article by academic David Wilson as “profoundly elitist”.

Professor Loam, who was previously senior lecturer in Lawn Maintenance, told The Poppletonian that he totally rejected Wilson’s contention that managers with no scholarly record who claimed academic titles were “charlatans”.

He pointed out that within the university sector, the word “professor” was simply used to convey special merit. This meant that it was as appropriate to someone who has “read a large number of books on medieval history as to someone like myself who possesses a deep knowledge of how to remove blanket weed from the university’s artificial lake”.

Other leading university managers were only too eager to express their support for Professor Loam. Dr T. W. Trilling (Head of Conference Bookings) described the Wilson article as “deeply divisive”, while Janet Thoroughgood (Dean of Staff Car Parking) thought it might presage a return to “the bad old feudal days” when academics used to object to senior managers walking around campus in gowns and mortar boards.

But perhaps the stoutest defence of professor managers came from Starred Professor Reg Simkins (Head of Involuntary Redundancy), who told The Poppletonian that the article clearly showed that there were a large number of academics who felt nervous about their current status. “I don’t remember anyone in the aristocracy feeling that their entire institution was being fatally undermined by the existence of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Earl Hines or Screaming Lord Sutch.”

Not every professor manager was so outspoken. A reader in the ever-expanding Department of Human Resources who wished to remain anonymous admitted that “some control over university titles” might be necessary in order to curb what he described as “title drift”. It was for this reason that he had opposed, albeit anonymously, the vice-chancellor’s decision to change his own title to “Generalissimo”.

In memoriam: QAA

A large congregation gathered in the university’s Ecumenical Chapel last Thursday in order to say farewell and goodbye to the Quality Assurance Agency. Several speakers spoke movingly of the good old days when they’d spent “weeks and months” carefully fabricating the voluminous paper evidence of excellence that was such a distinguishing feature of a traditional QAA inspection.

There was also a general welcome for the news that the functions formerly undertaken by the QAA would now be put out to competitive tender and some distinct enthusiasm for the further news that Serco might be one of the private companies anxious to take advantage of this outsourcing. As one speaker put it, “If Serco is able to apply the same high standards to the supervision of academics as it brought to bear upon the supervision of prisoners, then we can all face the future of quality assurance with quiet confidence.”

(The university choir then sang three choruses of Our God, Our Help in Ages Past.)

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