Laurie Taylor – 9 November 2017

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

November 9, 2017
Spoiled mortar board
Source: Getty/iStock montage/Alamy

Summa cum lousy

“Stirling may have hit the big time.”

That was the excited reaction of one of our leading academic trouble-makers, Mr Ted Odgers, to the news that the University of Stirling had recently honoured Professor Joseph Mifsud, the man now at the centre of an FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign, with a professorial teaching fellowship. Professor Mifsud denies any wrongdoing and has described the allegations against him as “nonsense”.

Mr Odgers of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies is a confirmed critic of the “academic honours system” and regularly produces a league table of “Dishonour-able Honours”. It remains to be seen whether Professor Mifsud will be a future candidate for the list.

Mr Odgers told The Poppletonian that the competition for places had been getting “tougher and tougher”. Obviously, the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Leeds had earned high ratings for bestowing their institutions’ highest honours on Jimmy Savile, but Liverpool Hope University had come out fighting with its honorary degree summa cum laude for Rolf Harris.

There are also strong historical challenges from Lancaster University with its 1993 honouring of the achievements of Cyril Smith, but even this was outclassed by the University of Edinburgh’s whole-hearted award of honours to -Robert Mugabe and the University of Strathclyde’s celebration of the life and work of Oscar Pistorius.

But even these robust challenges might not be enough to seize the Dishonourable Honours Title from Robert Gordon University’s award to Donald Trump or London South Bank University’s 2005 bestowal of Doctor of Letters upon Kevin Spacey.

Mr Odgers admitted that our own university did not appear in his Dishonourable Honours league table. Part of this, he claimed, was merely fortuitous. Had Pol Pot been able to meet his visa requirements and had Mr Nicolae Ceaușescu not been shot in the week preceding the Poppleton investiture, the picture would have been “quite different”.

Otherwise Poppleton had largely played it safe by only posthumously bestowing its highest honours upon Mother Teresa and St Bernadette of Lourdes.


Stuck in the bath

Who let the plug out of Bath?

Our vice-chancellor has brusquely dismissed the suggestion that the sharp fall in undergraduate applications to the University of Bath might have been occasioned by prospective student awareness of the abundant news stories about the university’s “governance failure and excessive greed”.

In what a leading member of our Department of Philosophy described as “uniquely containing three major logical fallacies”, a statement from our vice-chancellor declared that citing the “Breakwell factor” as an impediment to Bath recruitment was as absurd as suggesting that tourists intent upon visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo might be deterred by its possession of the contents of Tutankhamen’s tomb.


Publish and be cited

In a new article published in The Norwegian Journal of Relatively Obvious Findings, one of our leading research academics has denied that his recent publications fail to accord sufficient credit to their co-authors.

In this article, Professor Lapping of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies discusses a new global study of research publications by Bruce MacFarlane, professor of higher education at the University of Bristol, which instances the growing number of research papers involving co-authorship.

Although Professor Lapping acknowledges this trend, he hotly disputes the additional suggestion that those academics whose names appear in the first place on the title page of such co-authored papers enjoy some degree of dominance over those who are less prominently cited.

References

Lapping, Dogsbody and Vassal (2015)
Lapping, Gofer and Hireling (2016)
Lapping, Minion and Flunkey (2013)

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