Forget illness - build resilience!

January 17, 2013

“It’s time to get tough with illness.”

Those were the fighting words used by Louise Bimpson, Corporate Director of our ever-expanding Human Resources Department, as she introduced the brand new “Let’s Get Resilient Programme” to Poppleton academics.

Ms Bimpson explained that she had “nothing whatsoever” against proper illnesses such as dengue fever but had “little time” for such “commonplace academic complaints” as severe headaches, uncontrollable vomiting and repeated self-harming.

The prevalence of these “marginal illnesses” among academics was the reason why Poppleton would be following in the steps of Nottingham Trent University and introducing the Resilient Mindset Programme which would, in the words of the Nottingham Trent handout, “support you in building and maintaining your resilience to illness, stress and challenging workplace relationships”.

Will it work at Poppleton? Ms Bimpson admitted that her attempts to discover the success of the Resilient Mindset Programme at Nottingham Trent had been vitiated by the inability of her Nottingham contact to describe the programme without bursting into hysterical laughter. However, she took this amusement as a positive sign: “After all, the last time I came across an academic with sufficient resilience to be able to laugh aloud was the day before David Willetts assumed his present ministerial role.”

Now, there’s a coincidence

One of our longest-serving departmental secretaries, Maureen, who works in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, has drawn our attention to a quite remarkable coincidence.

Maureen, whose principal duties involve the supply of pedagogic, administrative, clerical, financial and therapeutic services to her department’s academics, explains that she came across this example of synchronicity as she was idly reading through a Times Higher Education list showing the increases in remuneration enjoyed over the past year by UK vice-chancellors.

“Suddenly, there among the figures,” she told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), “were the details of the salary currently enjoyed by Brian Cantor, the vice-chancellor of the University of York. But it wasn’t his actual salary of £251,900 which struck me so much as the increase this represented on his previous year’s earnings. This was almost exactly £28,000. And here’s the thing. That is exactly my own total annual salary. Isn’t that something?”

(Our reporter agreed that it was indeed “something”.)

Mythical ethics

“It’s a shot in the arm for morality.”

That was how our vice-chancellor chose to characterise Poppleton’s decision to follow in the footsteps of Durham University and abandon its plans to abolish the university’s ethics committee.

The vice-chancellor pointed out that the existence of an ethics committee at Durham had not so far prevented the university from accepting donations from British American Tobacco, the former prime minister of Kuwait and the Iranian government.

“On the basis of this evidence,” he said, “there is clearly a place for a Durham-style ethics committee in every forward-looking university.”

A spokesperson for one of Poppleton’s leading donors - the Turkmenistan Office of Social Control - described the decision as very hosh geldiniz (welcome).

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Here’s a little teaser that serves as an introduction to next week’s special seminar “Zen and the art of research impact management”:

“If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?”

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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