What's in a name?

February 5, 2009

Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has given an enthusiastic welcome to the suggestion from researchers at the University of California, San Diego that academics should be given a unique identification number.

He told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that this suggestion would immediately eliminate such "current nominal confusions" as that between Doctor Geoff Sawbridge of the Department of Murder and Criminal Forensics, who is graded as 2* (internationally recognised), and Doctor Graham Sawbridge of Homoeopathy, who was recently declared "research inactive" and allocated to "teaching-only status".

Targett also spoke of the value of such appellations in cases of "structural readjustment". "Instead of extended contractual negotiations, it would be possible to just email downsized staff with the simple message, "Dear 196492. We regret to tell you that your number's up."

However, not all academic staff were equally happy with the proposed change in nomenclature. Professor Lapping of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies (proposed number 4892174) told The Poppletonian that while he could see the practical benefits of such a scheme, he felt that Targett's further suggestion that all academics should be badged with their unique number might detract from "the family atmosphere of the university".

Phew! What a freezer

"Appalling weather conditions" were being blamed for this week's cancellation of record numbers of lectures and seminars. Maureen, the departmental secretary for Media and Cultural Studies, told The Poppletonian that although she'd been fortunate enough to reach the campus on the normal bus service, all the academic staff in her department had been "snowed in".

One senior lecturer, Dr Piercemuller, had rung in to report the conditions in his avenue as "arctic", and gone on to describe how, as he set off for the campus, he had found himself buried under an avalanche as he attempted to battle his way through the blizzard raging in his front garden.

On your marks

Some surprise was expressed this week by Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, at the omission of Poppleton from Times Higher Education's list of universities with innovative assessment techniques.

She told this newsletter that in recent years Poppleton had often been first with a number of developments in this field and went on to instance the following distinctive innovations:

Department of Psychology - The routine award of extra marks to the student with the best-turned-out rat.

Department of Botany - Annual award to the student with the best nature table.

Department of Medieval History - The regular determination of a student's final class of degree by competitive jousting.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

I hope I'm not being over-sensitive when I say that I found last week's British Jobs for British Workers demonstration outside the Department of French a little unsavoury. More than ever in these troubled times we need to recognise that those who choose to speak in different tongues are still members of our collegial community. Even as the snow falls it's well worth remembering this little adage:

When the sun rises, it rises for everyone.

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