Stress Levels Fall!

July 17, 2008

New research into stress levels at our university shows that 97.24 per cent of academics "very strongly agree" that their job is "very stressful". This is a decline of 0.2 per cent on last year's stress figures.

Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development, said the finding was "really lovely news" and attributed the change to the recent decision to replace several academics in the Philosophy Department with six stress counsellors.

She argued that the fall, though modest, represented "an increase in the sum of human happiness". "These figures", she told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), "mean that there are now 11 unstressed people on campus. Last year, only Dr Piercemuller, the vice-chancellor and two stress counsellors were stress-free."

Not that Ms Doubleday was complacent. "Take it from me," she told Ponting, "I shall not rest until that happy day when campus stress scores are down to the levels currently accepted as normal by Apollo astronauts."

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir or Madam

My attention has been drawn to the recent survey of university secretaries conducted by researchers at Keele University.

According to this report, secretaries felt that they were not treated with sufficient respect by academics, who often overlooked the qualifications they held and tended to regard clerical work as relatively menial and low skilled.

University secretaries also said that they were required to work longer and had less flexible hours than academics, had to accept pitiful levels of pay and had to tolerate less annual leave than academic staff.

There was also evidence that university secretaries received less generous maternity and sick-pay provision than academics and were enrolled in less advantageous pension schemes.

How refreshing to recognise that such poor academic-secretarial relations do not apply at Poppleton or more specifically in my own Department of Media and Cultural Studies where our secretary, Maureen, has chosen to make her home for the past 22 years.

One has only to observe her cheery disposition to know that she is one of those rare people who are truly happy in their job. She may not enjoy certain material benefits (reasonable pay, proper holidays, decent pension) but this is surely compensated for by the amount of respect she receives from myself and my colleagues. We are united in regarding her as "an absolute gem".

Indeed, whenever exigencies of academic time mean that Maureen has to be entrusted with some minor aspects of timetabling, examining, RAE submissions, finance, teaching, student supervision or counselling, the familiar cry goes up: "Where would we be without her?"

I trust that this sets the record straight.

Professor G. Lapping

(unwillingly signed in his absence by Maureen).

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

As you will realise, stress has been very much on my mind this week, so naturally I have turned to a relaxing "thought". And even though this one doesn't quite fit the new bacterial theory of ulcer formation, I still found it rather special.

You don't get ulcers from what you eat. You get them from what's eating you.

Department of Business Studies

We very much regret that next week's advertised seminar by Professor D. W. Hochberg on "Managing a Successful Investment Portfolio" has been cancelled following Professor Hochberg's recent death leap from the top of the physics cooling tower.

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