Search for the hero
“I’ve never heard of Nigel Carrington, but on the basis of reports, it would seem that he has little grasp of the nature of higher education leadership.”
That was the dismissive reaction of Jamie Targett, our director of corporate affairs, to the contention by the vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London that the type of “heroic leadership” favoured by sports teams was unsuited to universities.
Targett pointed out that it was the “distinctly heroic” leadership of our own vice-chancellor, coupled with the sheer inventiveness of our submitted narrative, that had played a major part in ensuring that Poppleton not only bettered such Russell Group universities as York and Durham in the first round of the teaching excellence framework, but also achieved 19th place in an online survey of universities with the best transport links to stations in the north-east of England.
This did not mean, Targett insisted, that our vice-chancellor was immune to criticism. Although he had ruled out any artistic modifications to the administrative block oil painting that depicted him seated in battle armour on a white stallion, in deference to Mr Carrington’s strictures he had plans to replace the present title of the painting with something more modest than “Cry God for Poppleton, England and Saint George”.
Is there a doctor in the house?
In an unusual display of unity, Poppleton academics have come together in praise of Marrisa Joseph, lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Henley Business School, University of Reading, who recently complained in Times Higher Education about the media outlets that failed to recognise that her PhD had earned her the right to be known as “Doctor”.
One such academic, Dr Derek Quintock of our Department of Culture and Media Studies, said that he had repeatedly been referred to by such media outlets as “Mr Quintock”, “Old Quintock” and even on one occasion within his hearing as “shouts his mouth off at the drop of a cheque Quintock”.
His concerns were amplified by his head of department, Professor Gordon Lapping, who wished that Dr Joseph had also concerned herself with the issue of professors being denied their rightful status. “I am routinely demeaned by having my full title reduced to ‘Prof’ as in ‘Hi Prof’ and ‘How’s it going, Prof?’. I’m also regularly undermined by perfectly literate colleagues who insist on referring to me in their emails as ‘Proffesor’. And although I’m pleased to say that during my last interview, BBC Radio Poppleton correctly used my full title, it was not altogether gratifying to hear the presenter announce that correspondence about the interview should be marked ‘Dumbledore’.”
In last week’s Poppletonian, we referred to the alleged existence of a confidential document in which our vice-chancellor referred to the possibility of our university going private. Although the existence of any such document has been hotly denied, our intrepid reporter Keith Ponting (30) was told “in confidence” by one administrator that there had indeed been talk about our university being “radically transformed”.
So is a major change of direction for Poppleton on the way? What might be meant by “radical transformation”? Watch this space!