Laurie Taylor column

November 3, 2000

"Questions have been raised about Vodafone's gift of mobile phones to the University of Cambridge and reports that Cambridge's vice-chancellor holds a lucrative position as a non-executive director of Vodafone." THES , Oct .

From: The office of the vice-chancellor
To: Academic staff members
Subject: Poppleton Pork Products plc

As you will be aware, this university is committed to pursuing links with industry as part of its overall strategic plan to get money from any source whatsoever.

I am, therefore, particularly pleased to announce that we have recently concluded a most exciting commercial agreement with the long-established firm of Poppleton Pork Products plc.

This agreement stipulates that Poppleton Pork Products will provide all academic staff above the level of senior lecturer with one free medium-sized pork pie every week for the remainder of the current academic year.

No charge will be made for this service, but recipients are asked to ensure that their individual free pie is displayed in a prominent position during all seminars, tutorials and undergraduate interviews.

Our new relationship with Poppleton Pork Products will be further acknowledged by a modest change in the university crest. The lion and the unicorn and the open Latin tome will remain central features of the crest, but the leaping dolphin will be replaced by a pig couchant.

It has been suggested in some quarters that this development raises questions of a conflict of interest because I am currently an extraordinarily well-paid non-executive director of Poppleton Pork Products plc.

I would like to place on record that my support for the new association was based entirely on the objective view that there were self-evident affinities between a university with a proud record of fully exploiting its intellectual resources and a manufacturer committed to making the most of dead pigs.

I trust this clarifies the arrangement and puts the record straight.

The vice-chancellor.

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