More risk for you, Sir?

June 7, 2012

Mr Les Onions, our Head of Fundraising, has welcomed the news from Fiona Kirk, the director of development at the London School of Economics, that the LSE will "rebuild an appetite for risk" after the widespread criticism it attracted for accepting fat chunks of cash from the Gaddafi regime.

He believed that this new "appetite for risk" was "admirably instanced" by the LSE's recent acceptance of £400,000 from China's government to help fund its new Confucius Institute.

Speaking to our reporter Keith Ponting (30), Mr Onions said our own university was rebuilding its "appetite for risk" with the acceptance of a £3 million gift from the Turkmenistan government to fund a new Centre for Human Rights.

When Ponting suggested that there might be some hypocrisy involved in accepting a shedload of money for a human rights centre from a regime noted for its catalogue of human rights violations, Mr Onions said that this had been considered by the university's Situational Ethics Committee. After extensive debate, however, it had been agreed to accept the Turkmenistan money on the strictly situational grounds that no one on the committee had ever heard of the place.

Boxing clever?

"It all happened because we wanted to follow the recommendation from Quintin McKellar, the vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, and place increased emphasis on teaching quality."

That was how Nancy Harbinger, our Deputy Head of Student Experience, explained the unfortunate recent incident in which a Poppleton academic was set alight during a first-year philosophy lecture.

Ms Harbinger told The Poppletonian that she had read Professor McKellar's views in Times Higher Education on the importance of using peer review to establish teaching quality. To this end, she had asked selected academics to "sit in" on colleagues' lectures, but to avoid discovery had arranged for them to be concealed at the back of the lecture hall in a perforated cardboard box.

Trouble had arisen only when the lecturer had asked the class to complete the phrase "Cogito ergo" and a muffled "sum" from the back of the hall had been clearly audible.

In the ensuing fracas, the cardboard box was torched, its academic occupant sustained minor burns and two students suffered broken noses. However, the lecturer was subsequently able to confirm that Cartesian dualism had remained intact.

The rustle of censorship

It appears that last week's edition of our sister paper, The Poppleton Evening News, carried a letter from Dr Gene Ohm of our Biology Department criticising this university's metrics-based redundancy programme.

We now learn that, following the precedent set by Queen Mary, University of London, Dr Ohm could be found guilty of "gross misconduct" and face "disciplinary proceedings leading to dismissal" for having the effrontery to raise such issues in a public place.

Louise Bimpson, the corporate director of our ever-expanding human resources team, admitted that this response might appear "severe" but pointed out that Poppleton was eager to follow the disciplinary practices set by such soon-to-be members of the prestigious Russell Group as Queen Mary. Thus it was only to be expected that we would seek to emulate its espousal of draconian censorship. She hoped this clarified the situation.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

The second seminar in our current series on the role of cosmetic surgery in advancing one's academic career will consider the pros and cons of brow enhancement.

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