Life in the Old Dons

Our more senior academics responded vigorously to last week's news in Times Higher Education that universities were not allowing dons over the age of 65 to remain in post.

February 28, 2008

Our more senior academics responded vigorously to last week's news in Times Higher Education that universities were not allowing dons over the age of 65 to remain in post. Professor D.W. Stout (63?) of the Department of Forensic Murder Studies summed up the general feeling: "After all these years working on a scrapheap, it's a bit much to be told at age 65 that there's nowhere else to go but another scrapheap."

Our Deputy Assistant Head of Human Resources, Georgina Sprightly (), also raced to the defence of the oldsters. "You're never too old to make a contribution to the university going forward," she told our reporter Keith Ponting (29). "I've been very impressed by the manner in which Emeritus Professor Summerson (86) is handling the postal delivery to the Administrative Block and with the recent decision by Emeritus Professor Klinker (104) to donate his organs to the Biology Department."


In our 16 January issue, we published a Sudoku puzzle devised by Dr K.W. Strutt of the Advanced Mathematics Department. Although this was much appreciated by readers, we have had requests for a version which might be more suitable for staff in English and History who lack advanced mathematical skills. Doctor Strutt has been happy to oblige. So humanities dons ... test your wits on this one!


Professor Lapping has asked us to announce the formation of a new sporting society. Anyone interested in joining a Russian Roulette group should contact him a.s.a.p. in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies. First-timers are welcome. Why not give it a go?


Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, was quick to respond to last week's news that 22 per cent of students in higher education fail to complete their degrees. "We are well aware of this problem at Poppleton," he told our reporter Keith Ponting (29). "Because of our policy of selecting students who have little or no interest in going to university in the first place, let alone Poppleton University, we have historically experienced rates above the average."

When pressed about last year's 104 per cent dropout rate in the Department of Plate Tectonics, Targett explained this "one-off figure" as a "statistical blip" caused by the department's overenthusiastic recruitment on the last day of enrolment of 18 people who were standing at a local bus stop.

Targett pointed out that last year's figures actually showed a 2 per cent reduction in overall dropout rates. "This is a tribute to our new programmes of pastoral care and intensive supervision and to the structural decision to increase the height of the razor wire on the perimeter wall of the campus."


Sir, I wonder if you could help. For some time now I seem to have been the recipient of a weekly e-mail from the university's ecumenical chaplain. I am sure his religious words of comfort and uplift are well intentioned, but from a purely personal point of view I would be pleased if I could now be omitted from his mailing list.

Doctor E.G. Broad and 256 others.


(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Those who cherish a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in their hearts, will one day

(continued next week).

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