Theology bites yer ankle

July 31, 2008

"Nobody likes us - and we don't care." That was the fighting response from Professor Gordon Greenwich, the Deputy Head of our Theology Department, to the recent suggestion from "a union source" that possible redundancies in the Theology Department at Keele might have been prompted by the subject's unpopularity in the university.

"Our sympathies go out to our colleagues at Keele," he told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30). "We've had to face exactly the same hostility here at Poppleton. We tried turning the other cheek when we were openly abused by the smart-arsed atheists in Sociology and publicly derided by the clever-dick Darwinians in Biology. But the time comes when one has to take a stand. We know who our enemies are and we know where to find them." When pressed by our reporter, Professor Greenwich agreed that the words "fatwah" and "crusade" had appeared on the agenda of a recent Theology Department meeting but insisted that that the terms were only used in "a symbolic manner".

Lost and found

Last week we carried an urgent plea for help from Claudia Ledbetter, who told us that her mother had gone missing on Graduation Day. "I know she was there for the ceremony", Claudia tearfully explained, "because I saw her taking a picture with her mobile phone when I was kissing the hem of the Vice-Chancellor's gown. But there was no sign of her outside the hall or in the strawberry tent."

At first there were suspicions that Claudia's mother might have been overcome with exhaustion after the Chancellor's annual address on widening horizons, but inquiries at local hospitals all drew a blank.

We are now delighted to learn that mother and daughter have been successfully reunited. It appears that Mrs Ledbetter was approached by Professor Lapping of Media and Cultural Studies immediately after the degree ceremony and enrolled in one of his department's new short-term access courses. Lapping told The Poppletonian that Mrs Ledbetter was an admirable student and insisted that his department's parental recruitment strategy was fully within university guidelines. "On the whole," he told our reporter, "we find that parents have a far greater respect for higher education than many of their depressing offspring."

Measuring the metre

Brian Bryan, our Deputy Head of REF Strategy, tells us that he is fully behind the new reliance on statistical indicators to assess research quality. "You know where you are with a number," he told The Poppletonian. "If you're going to catch a bus you need to know whether it's a 23 or a 46, not that it's a nice bus or a well-respected bus or a bus that enjoys international standing."

He is critical of academics such as Shearer West, director of research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, who recently questioned the appropriateness of numerical measures in the creative arts. "People say you can't measure the value of a poem, but this is just lazy thinking. A citation index readily shows that Wordsworth's Daffodils has the edge on Herrick's To Daffodils and it doesn't take a genius to work out that a sonnet or a villanelle is relatively slack work compared to a solid idyll or a fully fledged epic."

(Mr Bryan is 32 years old, 5ft 11in tall, and weighs 12? stone.)

Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

What a lovely sunny week! But now that the rain clouds threaten again here's a touching thought to help you through any inclement days of your statutory leave

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain

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