One potato, two potato
That was how Professor Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies responded to the former University of Essex lecturer who recently expressed surprise that that any “good academic” would want to be head of a university department.
Lapping said that this statement by one-time don Yanis Varoufakis (who now serves as the Greek finance minister) totally failed to recognise the prestige attached to a post that he had had the great honour to hold for the past 15 years. Other “good academic” members of his department would have been only too willing to assume the position if circumstances had not worked against them.
Back in 2002, for example, after a highly controlled selection process involving a number of straws, the post had fallen to Dr Quintock. But even as the good Dr was preparing to celebrate, he had had the misfortune to develop a seizure in the lower spine that prevented him from sitting up straight for long enough to chair a departmental meeting.
A similar dilemma had to be faced in 2006 when the appointment process known as “Buggins’ turn” had been adopted. For although this process had led to the selection of Mr Ted Odgers as HoD, he had had no option but to resign almost immediately after the tragic death of 14 members of his family in a bizarre tobogganing accident.
Lapping said that he had once again expected, however unwillingly, to vacate his honourable position in 2012 when a completely new election system based on principles of flotation had led to the selection of Dr Piercemüller. But Piercemüller’s delight at the prospect of returning from fieldwork and taking up the position had been cruelly curtailed at the last minute when he’d been captured and forcibly detained by an armed gang of Australian bushmen.
How was your current HoD chosen? We’d love to hear. Mark your communication “Hobson’s Choice”.
Trust me: I’m a vice-chancellor
We learn that our very own vice-chancellor was one of the leading contributors to PA Consulting Group’s annual survey of UK vice-chancellors that blamed the “slow pace of innovation” in higher education on the “deep-seated conservatism of university culture”.
He told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that it was “precisely such deep-seated conservatism” that had led so many academic staff to criticise the fast-paced innovative nature of the recent 30 per cent increase in his own personal emolument.
On a more specific level, he told Ponting that he particularly welcomed the suggestion from one vice-chancellor in the survey that current university leaders needed “to go out on a limb”. He liked to feel that that was a vote of confidence in his own established policy of being well away from the university on every available occasion.
On (all) other pages
David Willetts: “Why my student loan scheme was such a success”, page 22
David Willetts: “Why my decision to introduce differential tuition fees was such a success”, page 27
David Willetts: “Why my decision to promote for-profit universities was such a success”, page 34
David Willetts: “Why I was such a success”, page 44
Thought for the week
We regret that Jennifer Doubleday is unable to contribute her regular thought this week following the unfortunate garroting incident during last week’s Sexual Health seminar on Fifty Shades of Grey.