Our ever-cheery Head of Public Relations, Gail Topping, has expressed concern about the “veritable flood” of pessimistic metaphors employed by Michael Thorne, the vice-chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, during an event on university finances hosted by Times Higher Education and sponsored by RBS.
Ms Topping said that while she could appreciate the vice-chancellor’s picturesque financial reference to the “books” not looking “clever”, she wondered if he really needed to pursue this metaphorical path with the assertion that “the chickens [would] come home to roost”, and that this could well place him at “loggerheads with our workforce”. Neither did she feel it helpful that Professor Thorne had then proceeded to characterise the future economic condition of many universities as “completely stuffed”.
This criticism, insisted Ms Topping, was not an attempt to stifle well-formulated pessimism about the future of UK universities. After all, only a month ago “our own vice-chancellor” had seen fit to talk about Poppleton University as going “slowly downhill, reaching new depths, and finally hitting rock bottom”.
Ms Topping believed that there were more favourable metaphorical ways of characterising the state of higher education in this country. She was presently working on a formulation that would include such “essentially non-evaluative” terms as “Up”, “Creek”, “Without” and “Paddle”.
In last week’s edition of The Poppletonian, we may have given the impression that the University of Warwick was acting in a McCarthyite fashion by not only suspending Thomas Docherty, professor of English and comparative literature, but also by permanently “gagging him” from talking to his students and colleagues.
We are now assured by a spokesperson from Warwick that the “gag” placed on Professor Docherty is far from permanent. It seems that he is allowed to remove it from his mouth for the purpose of eating and drinking. We sincerely apologise for our misrepresentation.
‘Such an easy mistake to make’
That was how one of our leading international scholars, Dr Piercemüller of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, responded to the news that a “non-existent” book had been cited on Queen’s University Belfast’s research portal.
Piercemüller said that he had “genuine sympathy” for the Queen’s University editors of the missing book, who have so far been unable to cast any light on its apparent lack of existence. After all, as Piercemüller revealed by Skype to our reporter Keith Ponting (30), it was only three months since a “very similar oversight” had led him to claim in a research submission to be the sole author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
However, Piercemüller said that he had every reason to believe that this “oversight” would be forgotten in the rush of critical praise for his new study of micro-interactional dynamics among siblings and a cross-dressing cousin in an insular environment (Five on a Treasure Island. Forthcoming).
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Our series of talks on ‘Universities in the Wider World’ will conclude with a seminar given by a leading figure from the ‘Vegans against Fur Trimming on Academic Gowns’ movement. All welcome. Mark your application ‘Badger’.