Laurie Taylor Column

March 5, 2004

" The AUT argues that present promotion procedures in universities lack objectivity. " - The Times Higher , February .

Any other comments on Ellis?

Is this the young man from physics?

No, Professor Dobson, that was Gahagan and we promoted him to a readership a good five minutes ago. Elementary particles. This is Ellis from history. Wars of the Roses; 53; small beard.

Ah yes, Ellis. I've got him down as a "doubtful". Didn't like his overall approach.

Anyone else?

If this chap has written so much acclaimed work, why has he not been promoted before?

A good point, Professor Glink. Yes, Professor Mainshaft?

Well, of course, there's nothing at all wrong with being 53, but it does mean that with early retirement looming, Dr Ellis might have very little time left to enjoy his promotion.

Most valuable. Yes, Dr Eglington?

Most of us round this table could probably knock out a plausible book on the Wars of the Roses, but we'd be hard pushed to manage more than a sentence on elementary particles.

Another interesting intervention. Might I now summarise. The suggestion is that we turn down the application from Dr Ellis on the grounds that we didn't like his overall approach and felt there was something a bit fishy about the fact that he hadn't already been promoted. There were also concerns expressed about him being too near to retirement to enjoy the advantages of promotion, and on balance the committee felt that history was on the easy side of things compared with nuclear physics. Yes, Dr Sagar?

I met this chap once and didn't much care for the cut of his jib.

With respect, I think we must try to stick to more objective criteria. So let's move to our vote. All those against promoting the badly presented, elderly, time-serving, soft-option Ellis to senior lecturer, please raise your hands.

That's reassuringly unanimous.

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