’re on NSS

March 13, 2014

We have endeavoured over the past few weeks to provide guidelines for all those academic members of staff who wish to influence the results of the current National Student Survey in a manner that does not interfere with the necessary objectivity of the exercise.

Last week, we concentrated on the importance of timing to such integrity: the necessity of leaving at least five minutes between your disinterested exhortation to students to complete the survey and your mass distribution of free chocolate bars.

This week, we move on to demeanour. There is, according to Jennifer Doubleday, our much-loved Head of Personal Development, good empirical evidence that smiling is contagious. In other words, your smile may encourage students to “think smiles” while they complete the survey. However, there is also good empirical evidence that it is several years since any academic member of staff at this university ever emitted a spontaneous smile, so here are a few of Jennifer’s tips to help you manufacture a student smile that counts:

  1. Do try to smile with your eyes as well as your mouth. In the privacy of your bathroom, cover the lower half of your face with a piece of paper and then see if your eyes alone are smiling. (It may help if you slip off your spectacles)
  2. Try not to show too many teeth. A full mouth of teeth can appear threatening to a nervous student. (Remember Jaws?)
  3. Check on your breath. A big happy seminar smile can be readily undermined by the strong odour of neat whisky. (Think “barmaid’s apron”)
  4. Smiling releases endorphins. (Take care not to spill these down your clothing)
  5. If you can’t find anything on campus to smile about, then consider the proposition that our vice-chancellor’s current salary of £365,000 a year is based on merit.

Next week: Backhanders and bribes – a question of ethics?


This little piggy went ‘Ooh ooh ooh’

In a specially arranged interview with our reporter Keith Ponting (30), our vice-chancellor has described himself as “deeply offended” by the intimation that the recent 9.2 per cent salary rise which took his annual emolument to £365,000 per annum was an example of the manner in which current vice-chancellors were, in the words of Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty, following in the footsteps of the bankers and “troughing for bonuses”.

Not only was this porcine analogy personally offensive to Sir Hartley Grossman, the managing director of Poppleton Pork Products and head of our university’s Remuneration Committee, but it also implied that his own recent 9.2 per cent increase had been achieved through “pig-like” activities.

It was true, he told Ponting, that the selfie taken at the recent meeting of this committee, which showed him kneeling on the floor with his head buried between Sir Hartley’s legs, might “lend itself to misinterpretation”, but the notion that he was “troughing” was belied by the clear pictorial evidence that his mouth at the time was firmly closed.

(Editorial note: We have been asked to point out that the current predilection for academic staff to refer respectively to our vice-chancellor and chief financial officer as “Napoleon” and “Squealer” has no relevance to the above interview. We are happy to set this matter straight.)


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Jennifer Doubleday apologises for not being here this week but she is in another column.

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