Laurie Taylor – 14 December 2017

December 14, 2017
Bling academic
Source: Getty/Alamy montage

Absent blushes

What special qualities make an ideal vice-chancellor?

According to Dr Mike Goshworthy of our Department of Social Psychology, a truly modern vice-chancellor must be free from an impediment that marks out lesser individuals: they must be singularly incapable of embarrassment.

Dr Goshworthy’s interest in this attribute was aroused by the news that University of Bath vice-chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell had publicly declared that she was “not embarrassed” by her annual salary of £468,000.

“As soon as I read that,” admits Dr Goshworthy, “I had a ‘eureka’ moment. Might this extraordinary inability to feel embarrassment be a general trait among other overpaid vice-chancellors?

“It was a voyage of discovery,” he admits. “But slowly the evidence mounted. There was no record of the Southampton vice-chancellor being even mildly embarrassed by his annual pay package of £433,000 a year, nor any discernible sign of shamefacedness evinced by Bath Spa University’s former vice-chancellor Christina Slade as she pocketed a grand total of £808,000, which included £429,000 for loss of office. All in all, I failed to find a single red face among my sample of 24 seriously overpaid vice-chancellors.”

Dr Goshworthy is now researching the basis for this finding. Are embryonic vice-chancellors born without shame or do they have a lack of shamefacedness thrust upon them as a consequence of being regularly exposed to unjustifiable emoluments? More research is clearly needed.

Xmas Q&Q

Q. I appreciate that it is traditional for the university’s Xmas card to feature a biblical figure. But is there any special significance in this year’s choice of King Herod?
A. Try not to be paranoid. It mars the festive season

Q. Although I finally managed to get away from this year’s Psychology Department Party, I damaged my suit while climbing through the barbed wire. Is there any compensation scheme I might access?
A. You went to a party organised by psychologists!

Q. I got so drunk at this year’s Environmental Studies Party that I tripped over a rain gauge and fell into the Ecology Pond. What do you think of that?
A. The lack of context in your letter makes it difficult to tell whether you’re boasting or complaining.

Alma mater matters

According to Daily Mail investigators, top universities have secretly hired “wealth screening firms” to “trawl” for personal and confidential information about former students: their incomes, their investments and the value of their homes.

Although a spokesperson for our Alumni Fund insisted that the University of Poppleton had always used such personal information with “sensitivity”, a former student has passed The Poppletonian a letter that would appear to throw doubt on this claim.

Dear Alumnus

Greetings from your Alma Mater. All of us here in the Alumni Fund office want to congratulate you on your recent lottery win and on the greatly increased value of your investment portfolio. We were also delighted to learn that you recently paid off your mortgage and received a substantial legacy from your Aunt Noreen.

Of course, it wasn’t so pleasant to learn from your recent medical records that you are not long for this world, but that does provide you with an exceptional opportunity.

You can readily turn your last gasps into sighs of satisfaction with a bequest to the Alumni Fund, a bequest that will help to ensure that the Poppleton administrative staff will be able to benefit from the type of chauffeured car service already taken for granted at the University of Southampton.

Yours for as long as you’re here

The Alumni Fund

P.S. If the person addressed in this correspondence is dead, this message should be sensitively forwarded to the next of kin.

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