Laurie Taylor

July 4, 2013

Your place or mine?

It’s been a busy week for our vice-chancellor. In between presiding over a further round of staff redundancies, he’s been on site supervising the extensive renovations to his house.

Critics have suggested that the £250,000 cost of these improvements is an exercise in extravagance that parallels the £150,000 recently spent by Gerry McCormac, vice-chancellor of the University of Stirling, on improvements to his kitchen and floor coverings and to a landscaped garden that enjoys “soaring views over a Himalayan crag garden perched above the university parkland campus”.

But our vice-chancellor has dismissed any such comparison. He points out that while there is no obvious pedagogic spin-off from a Himalayan crag garden, his own decision to spend a quarter of a million on the addition of eight two-storey Corinthian columns and dentil moulding around the doorways, cornices and windows of his house readily recalls the excesses of Roman domestic architecture and is thereby a valuable visual aid for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in Classics.

The dull fact that this course will be dissolved later this year as part of Poppleton’s continuing commitment to abolishing the humanities was described by our vice-chancellor as “neither here nor there”.

On the game

One of our longest-serving dons, Professor Gordon Lapping, has expressed his profound shock upon learning that, according to national figures, as many as 6 per cent of his students may well be financing their studies by participating in sex work.

Lapping said that while he was “no prude”, he found it deeply disturbing to learn that people were prepared to prostitute themselves in order to maintain their position within the university.

He told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he’d been so upset by the news that he’d had to lay aside work on the five research papers he was currently preparing for publication in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Meaningless REF-Oriented Research.

Lapping agreed with Ponting’s suggestion that some critics might detect an element of intellectual prostitution in the current necessity for academics to abandon their true interests in order to write reams of rubbish for the research excellence framework, but he pointed out that he maintained a “thoroughly dignified” relationship with the journal editors who used his services. No matter how great the temp­tation, he resolutely refused to allow any kissing.


Are you a distinguished academic researcher looking to supplement your income? Then look no further. Poppleton is offering 24 extraordinarily well-paid and extraordinarily part-time posts to leading scholars in almost any discipline who will help to raise its profile in the research excellence framework.

These posts will follow what is known as the Cardiff-Swansea paradigm in that successful candidates need not have conducted any of their distinguished research at Poppleton, have no need to ever visit the actual campus, and can be assured that their part-time contracts will expire immediately after the date of the REF census.

Please apply marking your application “REF FARCE”.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“Next week’s seminar on new advances in university ethics will be given by a spokesperson from Durham University, who will explain the ethical principles that informed its 2010 acceptance of £125,000 from British American Tobacco. We understand that the speaker will provide his own hoops.”

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