'Stuff the owl' - shock statement

October 25, 2012

"It's exactly the type of over-wrought explanation we've come to expect from a sociologist."

That was the brusque response from Georgina Edsel, our Deputy Head of Brand Management, to an analysis by Gili Drori of the meaning behind recent changes in university logos.

With her research colleagues, Professor Drori, of the sociology and anthropology department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sampled the logos of 1,000 institutions of higher education from 24 countries and concluded that universities were now replacing such traditional symbols as wise owls, open textbooks and flaming torches of enlightenment with abstract modern designs. This shift, claimed Drori et al., reflected the transition of the university from "a Republic of Scholars" into "an organisation".

Ms Edsel acknowledged that Poppleton itself had "cast off" its traditional logo depicting a wise owl reading a Latin textbook in the light provided by a flaming torch. However, she insisted that our new logo featuring an equilateral triangle containing two large conjoined circles was in no way a move towards abstraction or managerialism in that the equilateral triangle concretely represented the three main axes of the university (branding, marketing and public relations) while the two large conjoined circles were readily recognisable as a line drawing of our esteemed vice-chancellor. She hoped this clarified the situation.

'Any questions you'd like to ask?'

Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our Human Resources Team, has asked us to publish some lines of guidance for the 257 members of academic staff who are currently applying for their own jobs. We are happy to oblige.

1. Check the prospectus. This will ensure that you are still in post. In the last round, several applicants for their own post appeared unaware that it no longer existed

2. Be ready for change. Although you're applying for a job to which you've already been appointed, there may have been recent changes in the person specification criteria that now make you wholly unsuitable for your own post

3. Be positive. Try to dismiss any thought that requiring you to apply for your own job is a human resources device for ensuring that you take the blame for your own dismissal

4. State your present position clearly. This will avoid the unfortunate situation that arose in the last series of interviews when a Dr Peascod was mistakenly turned down for a position that he had never occupied and thus had to be invited to a second interview so that he might be dismissed from the post he actually held.

Forget the mnemonic!

In last week's Poppletonian, we reported a change in the acronymic mnemonic that staff must master as a condition of their continuing employment. Out went the old form of letters, C-R-E-A-T-E (Communication, Research, Expertise, Application, Teaching and Excellence), and in came the brand-new S-T-I-M-U-L-A-T-E (Student experience, Talent, Internationalism, Motivation, Umbrella, Learning, Application, Tuition and Exchange).

We now recognise that the referent given for the letter "U" in STIMULATE was derived from an earlier formulation and has now been replaced by "Understanding". Those who may have already memorised "Umbrella" are advised to relearn the mnemonic.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Now that a report has confirmed that our academics are the most stressed in the world, here's a little aphorism that may just lighten your day:

"Stress is when you wake up screaming and realise you haven't yet fallen asleep."


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