Laurie Taylor Column

September 29, 2006

From: The Office of the President

Subject: University Values

As you will recall, we recently engaged a leading firm of management consultants, Quantum Leap plc, to assist in the preparation of a set of values for Poppleton University. Last month, Quantum Leap circulated a provisional statement of possible value orientations (PVOs) to all members of staff with a request for comments and queries. I now enclose a sample of responses.

Dr G. W. Hurdleboys (Geography)
I'm confused about the distinction between goals and targets and values and strategic objectives. Could you clarify?

On the whole, one should be oriented towards goals, directed towards strategic objectives, aimed at targets and prepared to take ownership of values.

Prof L. E. G. Dingbat (Medieval History)
With reference to the last question, I know that I own my house and car and lawn mower but I'm not sure how I'd know if I owned a university value. Can you help?

Not at the moment.

Derek Fondling (Material Science)
I'm very interested in becoming more oriented towards the university's goals. Is there a particular angle I should be assuming?

Facing forward is the preferred option.

Dr R. J. Caligari (Woodwork)
How many values should a university have? My friend Alex in Psychology said that she thought it was about 51.

Alex is confusing values with either targets or strategic objectives or even goals. The average number of values is five or six. Anything more is regarded as boastful.

Prof J. Doe (Philosophy)
Your document refers to the need for our values to interface with the "real world". Why was the phrase 'real world' enclosed by quotation marks? Is there another more real world behind the "real world"?

This is just the type of nit-picking that tends to give philosophy a bad name.

Prof W. B. Skeats (English)
How has this university managed to get by satisfactorily for the past 20 years without having a set of values or indeed a set of management consultants to help us formulate a set of values?

Your question fails to recognise that we now all live in a constantly changing environment, going forward. In fact, the only constant in the world today is change. Apart, of course, from my own incumbency of this high office. I hope this clarifies the situation.

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