Man united after Poppleton pep talk

December 3, 2004

"There is no 'I' in 'team'," Laurie Taylor warned a slightly tipsy and baffled audience at Manchester University last week in a talk to mark the institution's recent merger.

Professor Taylor, visiting professor of societal dysfunction at Poppleton University, had been invited by The Times Higher to share his formidable experience of the challenges facing academe with the country's newest and largest higher education institution.

He commended the authorities for their imaginative choice of name for the merged institution and seemed particularly excited by the rampant animal symbolism in its coat of arms.

After noting that its image of the setting sun was "the only place you're likely to see the ruddy thing in Manchester", Professor Taylor led the audience in an emotional trek through his 30-year academic career.

His frank recollections of the intellectual cut-and-thrust of university appointments committees, the hours spent waiting for students to say anything at all and the sad decline in the status of his chosen discipline - sociology - visibly moved his audience, many of them mechanical engineers, to tears.

Professor Taylor will be appearing at Queen's University, Belfast, on January ; Aberdeen University on March 3; and Exeter University on April 28. Contact Sebastian Lander at for details.

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