Are you looking for trouble?

February 28, 2013

“A wonderful opportunity.” That was how Louise Bimpson, corporate director of our ever-expanding Human Resources team, reacted to news that The Hub Events training organisation (motto “Fresh Ideas, Practical Training”) is offering a course titled “How to handle difficult people in an academic setting”.

Ms Bimpson said she hoped that the one-day Manchester-based course, which promises new strategies for dealing with “negative, time-consuming and obstructive behaviour” on campus, would build on recent academic advances in dealing with difficult people. She instanced the University of Salford’s “courageous attempt” to pursue a costly libel case against the “difficult” lecturer who had had the temerity to compare his managers to Hezbollah and also the “tactical use” of security personnel to escort difficult staff off campus that had been “pioneered” at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham.

She described the £460-per-person cost of the one-day course as “a veritable snip”.

Doggy fashion

Dog owners will be fascinated to learn of new research that proves the ability of man’s best friend to think and understand.

This research by Tony Swets of our Psychology Department builds on a study, conducted by the University of Portsmouth’s Juliane Kaminski, that discovered a dog’s capacity to “understand the human perspective” by showing that dogs were “four times more likely to steal food that they had been told not to eat when they were in a dark room than when they were in a lit room”.

Dr Swets expanded this work by explicitly telling a group of dogs, controlled for size, gender and tail length, not to read a news report of David Cameron’s declaration to the young people of India that British universities were “incredibly welcoming”.

He then locked the dogs in a dark room with a copy of the article and a set of torches. Unlocking the room later, he saw that the article had been sufficiently read to have become “dog-eared”.

However, the clearest proof that the article had been “secretly read” lay in the dogs’ “transformed demeanour”. Whereas they had previously been in a “relatively serious state of mind”, after consuming the article they exhibited varying degrees of uncontrollable laughter.

Bath time for chancellors

Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has acted to deflect criticism of Poppleton’s Chancellor after an attack on the University of Bath for appointing the Earl of Wessex its next incumbent of the post.

Joanna Lewis, a Bath alumna who now lectures at the London School of Economics, said the Earl’s appointment “makes a mockery of what higher education should be built upon: merit, fairness, application, industriousness and ability”.

Mr Targett, however, insisted there were “no useful parallels” between Prince Edward and Poppleton’s Chancellor, Sir Hartley Grossman, managing director of Poppleton Pork Products. For while the Earl had been favoured at Bath for his privileged lineage rather than his relevance to education, Sir Hartley had long exhibited a proven ability to transform horsemeat into edible “pork pies”. “This”, Targett said, “perfectly parallels the student educational experience currently on offer at Poppleton.”

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“According to image consultant Shenda Collins, some female academics ‘fear’ dressing smartly in case of being mistaken for an administrator. In this week’s special seminar, a well-dressed administrator will frankly describe her ‘dread’ of being mistaken for an academic. All welcome.”

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