Laurie Taylor Column

January 2, 2004

From : The Office of the Vice-Chancellor
Subject : New Year Message to all Academic Staff

As we stand on the brink of another new year, the fourth year in which I have been at the tiller of the University of Poppleton (Mrs Dilworth, could you check whether this should be "tiller" or "helm". I think I was at the "helm" last year. Best to stay in the same place), it is time to look back at our many achievements during the past year and to look forward to what we hope to achieve in the new year. (There are too many "years" in this bit. Could you do your usual tidy?) The past 12 months have been months of consolidation, a consolidation evidenced by our success in remaining in exactly the same position in every university league table. In these turbulent times, it is greatly to our credit that we have maintained such extraordinary consistency. (Mrs Dilworth. Could you check that we haven't improved at anything?) We've said "goodbye and thanks for the memory" to a large number of loyal Poppleton staff.

All in all there have been early retirements and 15 cases of death in office. (Don't go into any detail.) But we have also said "hello and welcome" to staff in our newly created departments of Goat Husbandry and Shed Maintenance. And, of course, we all hope that our brand-new Department of Colonic Irrigation will soon be up and running. (Does this sound right?) Let me take this opportunity to wish you all, apart from those bolshie overstaffed librarians who are making so much fuss about being on the same pay scale as the cleaners, a very happy new year. (Mrs Dilworth, this might need toning down a little.) My own appointment to the Unesco Advisory Council on Higher Education means that I will necessarily be out of the country for considerable periods of time over the next 12 months, but the university will be left in the capable hands of the registrar. (Don't mention his name. With a bit of luck we'll have him out by Easter.)

Yours academically,

The Vice-Chancellor (signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth)


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