Keep it strictly to yourself

June 30, 2011

"You know what they say? Jack of all trades and master of none." That was the vigorous response of Dr Fritz Itzig of our Department of Psychology to the recent argument by Professor Gill Nicholls, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, that tightly policed academic disciplines might "fail to serve the needs of students and society".

Dr Itzig told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that for the past 20 years he had been entirely preoccupied with asking groups of undergraduates to remember lists of such nonsense syllables as SAJ, XUY, MUW and YIC, and then testing whether their recall of such syllables was affected in any way by age, gender, height, weight or an ability to float upside down for more than three minutes in the department's experimental water tank.

Although Dr Itzig admitted that his work had only ever been published in the British Journal of Nonsense Syllable Recall and that he normally mixed only with colleagues from the British Association for the Recall of Nonsense Syllables, he did not believe that this gave him a "bunker mentality".

"On the contrary," he told Ponting, "I feel a genuine intellectual affinity with all those legions of other academics who have built a career on nonsense research."

You gotta get out of this space

"A most unfortunate business." That was how Mike Cram, the university's Head of Spatial Optimisation, described the ugly fracas that broke out in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies as efforts were made to remove Dr Quintock from his office.

Mr Cram explained to The Poppletonian that the decision to spatially relocate Dr Quintock had been prompted by a report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England on the average amount of office space taken up by academics.

Careful measurements taken by Mr Cram and his team had established that Dr Quintock's office occupied 15 sq m of space - nearly 2 sq m more than the average for England.

Apprised of this "spatial excess", Dr Quintock stressed his Celtic origins and cited figures in the report showing that the average space taken up by Welsh academics was 15.7 sq m.

After testing failed to yield any Welsh blood, Mr Cram indicated that Dr Quintock would be removed from his "over-spatialised location" and relocated in "an open-plan scenario environment".

Mr Cram described Dr Quintock's attempt to resist this move by chaining himself to his own radiator and swallowing the key as "self-defeating".

An apology from the Director of Curriculum Development

Although a recent email from this office correctly noted a forthcoming official Quality Assurance Agency visit to our university next week, the subsequent paragraph referring to the members of the QAA team as "two officious rat-faced male losers from a former poly and a blowsy woman who dresses like a Sue Ryder shop window on a wet Wednesday" should have been marked "Limited Circulation". We regret any misunderstanding that might have been occasioned by this technical error.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

"Please note that the brain scans that were taken at last week's seminar on neuroscience are now available. These can be collected from the office or, in Professor Lapping's case, from the forensic branch of Poppleton police."

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