'Mad moment' - Chemistry Don

September 10, 2009

"I got carried away. It could have happened to anyone. I had a moment of madness." Just a sample of the remarks screamed at onlookers by Dr D.W. Blodgett of our Department of Chemistry as he was forcibly dragged from the university's Clearing Office last week by uniformed attendants.

The attendants were called in after news began to circulate on campus that Dr Blodgett had offered more than 3,000 undergraduate places in chemistry to clearing applicants, thereby exceeding his department's quota by 2,972.

According to one colleague who wished to remain anonymous, Dr Blodgett had always bemoaned past failures to fill the department's quota and regularly lamented "the tragic sight of so many supernumerary test tubes, redundant retorts and unlit Bunsen burners".

"One can only assume", the colleague continued, "that he was thrown into mental disarray by the sound of so many people pleading for a chance to study chemistry at Poppleton."

As we go to press, we learn that plans to provide facilities for the additional 2,972 students are still at "a formative stage". However, the rumour that members of the Metropolitan Police had recently visited Poppleton to offer advice on "kettling" was described by Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, as "unhelpful".

Universities UK speaks out

These past few months have been momentous ones for higher education. Almost every day the media have been filled with debate about the Government's decision to offer extra unfunded university places, the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee's concern about the comparability of degrees and its damning indictment of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the likelihood of a new government relaxing the current cap on fees, the disastrous situation at London Metropolitan University, and the prospects for the 130,000 eligible students who will be left without a university place.

In the face of so many concerns, it is only natural that academics should turn for leadership and guidance to the body that describes itself as "the essential voice of higher education" - Universities UK. We are, therefore, delighted to reprint below the public declarations made by UUK in response to these highly significant issues.

'We've nothing against women'

Dr D.W. Dingbat, the current Head of our Philosophy Department, has reacted indignantly to the assertion by Jennifer Saul, UK Director of the Society of Women in Philosophy, that men outnumber women in philosophy departments by five to one because of the "combative" nature of the discipline.

"Obviously," he told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), "there are plenty of vigorous debates in the discipline but only a crass empiricist or a flabby-minded phenomenologist or a pie-in-the-sky Platonist or an unprincipled pragmatist or an obfuscating Hegelian would want to suggest that these were in any way conducted in a manner that was other than thoroughly objective."

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Find it difficult to look colleagues straight in the eye? Then book your place on our Improving Eye Contact seminar to be held on Monday 21 September at 5.30pm. Guest speaker will be Dr Gregory Lipchitz, who will be taking issue with the well-known proverb "A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse".

lolsoc@dircon.co.uk.

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