God in the quad

March 26, 2015

Source: Getty

‘Dawkins’: a recent picture

A Poppleton don who is well known for his militant atheism has spoken warmly of the Virgin Mary.

In an interview with The Poppletonian, Mr Ted Odgers of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, explained that his dramatic volte-face had been prompted by his learning about the central idea behind the foundation of the Benedictus College of the Liberal Arts, an institution described as “the first proper Catholic university in Britain since the Reformation”.

Odgers – who owns an attack dog called “Dawkins” and who once suggested in Faculty Board that our ecumenical chaplain should be strangled with the entrails of the vice-chancellor – pointed out that the new not-for-profit Catholic Benedictus College not only described itself as offering an alternative to the current “impoverished” nature of humanities teaching but also, in the words of its director, Clare Hornsby, asserted that education should be about “making the self a better and more integrated person” instead of “an agglomeration of different pieces”.

If, said Odgers, believing in the Virgin Mary was correlated with such advanced humanistic thought, then it might well be time for him to reconsider his principles.

However, he doubted if he would go as far as to convert to Catholicism. “Frankly,” he told The Poppletonian, “despite some careful study of the key texts, I still have some residual doubts about the Holy Ghost.”


Riga, Riga, roses

The Poppletonian (26 March 2015)

“I’ve nothing against Latvia per se, but I can’t in all honesty see any real parallels between a university in such a faraway and somewhat desolate place as Riga and our own delightful campus.”

That was how Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, responded to the news that the European Court of Human Rights had found that a professor at Riga Stradiņš University had been unfairly sacked for criticising senior management. University staff, the court ruled, must be free to criticise management without fear of dismissal or disciplinary action.

Targett “thoroughly rejected” the suggestion from our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that there might be “a parallel” between what happened at Riga and our own university’s decision to ban Professor Busby of our English Department from campus for nine months for a disciplinary offence.

This, insisted Targett, was a “wholly inappropriate parallel”. For whereas the Latvian professor had been disciplined for speaking out against “alleged nepotism, plagiarism, corruption and mismanagement” in his department, Professor Busby had been banned from campus and from contact with students and colleagues for nine months for the “far more heinous offence” of “sighing” during an appointments interview.

Targett said he “trusted that any fair-minded person, whether from Latvia or indeed the Outer Caucasus, would be able to see the essential difference in the scale of offence”.


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Many of our more senior academics complain about not being able to comprehend the speech patterns that are increasingly assumed by today’s students. This week’s seminar by a distinguished linguist will analyse this phenomenon and propose solutions. Apply in the usual manner, marking your application “Irritable Vowel Syndrome”.


Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.