Put on a happy face!
“What an illuminating set of articles!”
That was the response of Louise Bimpson, our Corporate Director of Human Resources, to the feature in last week’s edition of Times Higher Education in which seven heads of department described their “experiences at the helm and gave tips on how to squeeze the best out of sceptical staff”.
Ms Bimpson told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that she had been particularly impressed by the number of times in which these heads of department had referred to the importance of going about their work with a smile on their face.
It was a recognition of this “smile factor”, said Ms Bimpson, that had now prompted Poppleton University to advertise for a Director of Emotional Demeanour.
“For far too long”, she explained, “we have taken for granted that scowling or smirking or snarling are the default facial expressions for the leaders of our academic staff.”
Ms Bimpson said that she expected the new appointee to draw upon recent research by the University of Kansas in which subjects who had portions of chopsticks inserted into their mouths in such a way as to generate a smile were far more tolerant of stress than those who had not been fitted with such implements.
But, wondered Ponting, would our heads of department willingly accept the forcible insertion of such a mechanical aid to smiling?
Ms Bimpson said she had every confidence in their adaptability. “Let’s face it, the majority of our academic leaders have readily swallowed every managerial demand we’ve thrown at them in the past decade. It’s difficult to imagine that they would now object to the oral insertion of something so relatively innocuous as a sawn-off chopstick.”
We regret to announce the sudden death of Dr D. W. B. Pipette, senior lecturer in our rapidly expanding Department of Alternative Medicine.
As we go to press we learn that Dr Pipette, who enjoyed an international reputation in herbal circles for his ground-breaking research on the therapeutic value of evening primrose oil in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, was found lying in a pool of his own blood in his tutorial office early yesterday morning. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he had been stabbed through the heart by the business end of a blackboard pointer.
Suspicions that this fatal wound had not been self-inflicted were enhanced when news leaked out that Dr Pipette’s last known office assignment had been a meeting with Dr Leon Sangster of our Department of Forensic Studies at which the two academics were scheduled to reconcile their final marks on our ever-popular joint degree in Alternative Medicine and Forensic Science.
Difficulties in mark reconciliation on this joint degree course have been a cause for concern in the past. Only two years ago, the joint markers had to be separated by a departmental secretary when they came to blows over the scientific quality of an Alternative Medicine paper on the use of borage seed in the treatment of eczema.
Although we still await an official statement, we learn from inside sources that Dr Sangster is “currently helping the police with their enquiries”, although it is not clear whether he is providing helpful forensic assistance or being helpfully detained in a police cell on suspicion of first-degree murder.