This 'Miss Piggy' poster stays home

Uncertainty surrounds departure of Durham's first female registrar. David Matthews reports

July 12, 2012



Single-minded? Moi? Registrar musing on leaders was reminded of porcine diva


A university registrar who wrote a blog post appearing to compare her vice-chancellor to Miss Piggy has stepped down, it has emerged.

Carolyn Fowler, the first woman to hold the senior administrative post at Durham University, left the university at the end of June, the institution confirmed.

Although it is unclear whether her departure was connected to the comment, Ms Fowler had been on leave for more than a month when her exit was confirmed. She has also removed the post from her blog, durhamregistrar.wordpress.com.

The article on "the relationship between registrar and vice-chancellor" was posted in mid-April and covered in Times Higher Education's Scholarly Web column on 3 May. The "ideal state" was "two professionals with shared values and common goals", she wrote, but the reality "often feels rather more like Kermit to Miss Piggy".

"Piggy, secure in her stardom and suffering not a moment of self-doubt, performs with single-minded determination regardless of whatever chaos might be going on around her," the post continued.

"Meanwhile the Registrar-Kermit desperately tries to keep Piggy and everyone else happy at the same time, his only fixed point the knowledge that the show must go on."

A university spokeswoman would not comment on why Ms Fowler had left, nor whether it was connected to her blog. She said it was university policy not to comment on "individual staffing matters".

But in a statement, Christopher Higgins, Durham's vice-chancellor, says he is grateful to Ms Fowler "for all her hard work during a period of significant change for the UK higher education sector and for her contribution to Durham University's success", adding: "We wish her well for the future."

The same statement carried quotes from Ms Fowler, a Durham graduate, who says the university is "in good heart" and that she is "proud to have served my alma mater for 15 rewarding years".

"I have been supported by a great team of staff and I wish them and the university well. I am now looking forward to the future," she says.

She defended the Miss Piggy post on Twitter, writing on 18 April that "the boss thought it was funny!"

Ms Fowler used the social networking site until 26 April, but the account has not been used since.

THE first learned that Ms Fowler was on leave on 23 May, when the university said it would not comment on why she was away nor on whether she would return.

The Durham spokeswoman said Ms Fowler's blog was a personal one, adding that she did not know why the post had been taken down.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

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