Is everybody here?
According to a recent article in Times Higher Education, “conferences may be fun but they do little to advance and disseminate knowledge”.
In an attempt to further such dissemination, The Poppletonian has elected to publish extracts from some of the conferences that graced our campus over the Easter break.
In the first of this series, we are delighted to publish a transcript of one of the plenary sessions held during the annual conference of the Welsh Social Problems Association. The session
is introduced by the chairperson.
“Is everybody here? We seem a little light on numbers for a plenary session. It might be an idea if everyone else in the hall moved forward into the front row. Yes, that’s right. Just come forward. Down the stairs. Good.
Well, it’s now my very pleasant duty – I’m sorry, but is this microphone working? I said, IS THIS MICROPHONE WORKING? Would you be so kind as to raise your hand if you can hear me? Ah, good.
Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce our distinguished speaker. Professor G. W. Mountebank is a leading theorist of Welsh neoliberalism and is someone who has a tremendous reputation for monotony. We shall enjoy his word-for-word reading of the 22-page paper that was included in your 350-page digest of this year’s conference proceedings.
Professor Mountebank will also fail to leave enough time at the end of his presentation for even the briefest of questions, although that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the hall now appears to be almost empty apart from Janet, the excellent young lady in charge of the roving microphone. That’s Janet over there by the radiator.
Just one piece of housekeeping before I hand over to Professor Mountebank. In the event of a fire, you are advised to use the emergency exits located at the rear of the hall. No, not
now. Not now. Not until there’s an actual fire. I’m sorry, is this microphone still working?”
No room at the inn
For the 10th year running, Poppleton has failed to be nominated in a single one of the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards categories.
Did this failure in any way suggest that our university was singularly lacking in anything resembling leadership and management?
Our Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, said that he rejected any such inference.
“Part of the problem”, he explained, “lies in the inadequacy of the awards categories. It was clearly impossible, for example, to nominate ourselves for the Outstanding Library Team when all our librarians had been reallocated to involuntary retirement following the transformation of our central library into the unstaffed Online Digital Learning Resources Centre.
“Bad luck was also involved. We simply had no other option but to withdraw from the Outstanding Estates Strategy when news came through that our excellent Bursar had been savaged by piranhas while taking a dip in the university’s much-celebrated artificial lake.”
There might also, suggested Targett, have been some constraints placed upon the judges. “It is well known that Poppleton now employs more managers and leaders than any other comparable UK university. It is impossible to ignore the thought that if there was any reason whatsoever for them to attend the Grosvenor House Hotel awards ceremony there would be precious little room for anyone else.”