"It's chalk and cheese." That was how our senior manager of external relations, Kirk Swavely, responded to suggestions of an "unfortunate similarity" between the terms of the new L'Oreal professorship at the University of Oxford and those that applied to our own university's recently advertised chair in Pork Sausages.
Mr Swavely said he was "well aware" of the line in Oxford's description of the post which referred to such additional duties as engaging "periodically with L'Oreal, the sponsor of the chair, in the interests of developing and promoting mutually beneficial activities".
However, he insisted that he could see no analogy between this statement and the insistence in the Poppleton advertisement that the successful candidate would "be expected to go out of his way to promote Poppleton Products sausages".
There was, Mr Swavely told our reporter Keith Ponting (31), a strict ethical code in place to ensure that the new professor did not overstep the mark in his "mutually beneficial" promotion of Poppleton sausages. For while the sausage chair incumbent might indeed choose to praise Poppleton sausages, he was precluded from ever alleging that their consumption did anything to combat any of the 10 well-known signs of ageing.
External examiner cull
Poppleton has responded rapidly to the introduction by the Quality Assurance Agency of new nationally agreed criteria for external examiners.
These advise that externals "should have proficiency in the field of study and relevant qualifications, and should not have conflicts of interest such as collaborations with individuals involved in the programmes they are overseeing".
The strict application of these criteria has led to the following enforced resignations from our existing team of external examiners:
Professor L.B. Shanks (MSc Biology)
Close personal friend of departmental head. Past history of accepting backhanders for raising marks. Excessive travel expenses.
Doctor C.W. Toppling (BSc Physics)
Well past sell-by date. Stuck in a Newtonian time warp. Drools when reading.
Ms Jane Jefferson (BSc Statistics)
No relevant qualifications or interest in the subject. Appears to have been appointed on a whim after running into the Head of Department in a tanning salon.
You say tomato
Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has welcomed the recent declaration by Ken Sloan, director for universities and higher education at Serco plc, that "over the next five years" conversations between the public and private sectors about working together in higher education will "just become part of the normal discourse".
Targett told The Poppletonian that he greatly admired the contributions to the economy Serco had made in the areas of transportation and nuclear waste, and therefore intended to facilitate this "normal discourse" by arranging a series of seminars in which academics would be introduced to "best practice" examples of "normal public-private discourse". These would include the following suggestions for striking up a conversation:
"You know, there must be a lot of synergy (sin-er-jee) between running a university and managing the Docklands Light Railway."
"Frankly, I was worried when Serco - despite all those objections from the Charity Commission - bought my entire university for a knockdown price. But hey, how things have changed."
"Gosh, remember the days when people used to go to universities named after actual places like Manchester and Leeds rather than to branches of Serco."
Thought for the Week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Next week's seminar by the university's ecumenical chaplain is entitled "Getting ready for what some people tend to regard as an important time of the year".