Our satirical columnist Edwin Phillips witnesses another meeting between controversial Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott (HL-S) of Swansea University and a colleague (C), after The Eye exclusively revealed she was leaving her scandal-hit institution where a top-level inquiry is underway into a questionable multi-million pound land deal, when we showed how senior officials were at the heart of the inquiry and have been sacked, the police have launched an alleged bribery investigation, and it employed a convicted fraudster.
The investigation is set against an extraordinary anonymous computer campaign designed to undermine it and which supports Professor Lappin-Scott.
HL-S: (Smugly) Well, the events of the year, eh? I am, of course, taking about my farewell parties which were at the Bay Campus of the School of Management last Tuesday and yesterday at Singleton Park.
C: (With glint in eye) Your departure is certainly a cause for celebration. Unfortunately I could not attend either party because I had very important prior engagements. Iceland was making a home delivery on the Tuesday and I had an appointment yesterday with Paddy Power.
HL-S: (Staring into distance) You really missed treats – thousands of my followers were there. I had bought in large boxes of Kleenexes just in case it was all too much for some people and, I can say this now, I also had some oxygen cylinders standing by, just in case some people were overcome with emotion at my departure
C: (Still with glint in eye) I understand that you shared the party at Singleton Park with a colleague?
HL-S: Er … yes, I decided to share my party there (notice the ‘my’ party – I think you will appreciate that) with somebody else who was leaving Swansea to save them the embarrassment that theirs would not attract any friends and supporters if they did not team up with me. It shows the sort of caring, sensitive individual I am, and not the capricious, mediocre, self-promoting academic that I believe some have suggested.
C: (Sighing) the great and the good attended then?
HL-S: (Staring into far distance again) absolutely, and they were all paying their respects to me. I have heard inferior people have described it as ‘fawning’.
There were, however, one or two notable absences but the less we say about those who have besmirched the good name of Swansea University the better.
C: (Roguishly) I guess they mentioned your past academic history? I wonder if the words “… irreconcilable differences” and “… escorted from the premises” were mentioned when they discussed your time at Bangor and before you were parachuted in to Swansea.
HL-S: I was too overcome to remember
C: (Mischievously) but perhaps you remember them mentioning your, how shall I put this, ‘achievements’?
Did they mention, for instance, your role in appointing a friend and the Piercy family to the School of Management when you had responsibility for the oversight of the School? Similarly, was mention made of the decline of the Management School with a mass exodus of academic staff on your watch?
HL-S: (Looks at shoes) hm, hm, um, hum, um, er, (coughs) obviously not.
C: (Mischievously again) then there is the case of Steve Chan who was appointed to the School of Management, again in the period of your oversight and who now purports to hold a doctorate from Swansea University which is just about the same value as the piece of paper on which it is written … or not, given that there are still unresolved doubts as to whether a written thesis exists.
HL-S: (Brightly) ah, but look at the university rankings.
C: Has it ever occurred to you that the recent improvement in Swansea’s ranking has absolutely nothing to do with you but has everything to do with the efforts of some outstanding academics who have flourished despite you attempting to ride on their coattails at every opportunity?!
HL-S: (Forlornly now) but I have been such an international ambassador and, um, global super-star for the university
C: (Throwing caution to the wind now) the only person you have ever promoted is Hilary Lappin-Scott. The only part played by the university has been to pay your flights and expenses. And then there is the small matter of your attendance at Massachusett Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program which I understand was funded by the Welsh Government. I wonder now if anybody is asking whether it was worth sending you on this junket given that you knew nothing about entrepreneurship?
HL-S: (Coughing again) of course it was, I was able to attend meetings in Tokyo and Boston (those inferior people have said ‘sleep in’) and I am sure you will be pleased to know I enjoyed excellent food and facilities. I was also able to talk about diversity, gender, and equality, which is now my new area of specialism and is an area in which it is widely-acknowledged I am the world expert. Nobody knows as much as I do about diversity, gender, and equality, except, perhaps, for Donald Trump who is my second role model (and next in line after the Piercy family).
C: (Sighing once more) so what do you think is your legacy, if that is not too strong a word?
HL-S: (Brightly again) I have brought Swansea University into the 20th century. I have introduced people to Twitter and some academics and administrators now use it. Everyone has been extremely pleased to see my very informative tweets from around the world. I have rewarded my fellow important people on this technological break through by ensuring that they are promoted. Especially if they are female. The good news is that gone are the days of meritocracy and academic excellence.
Despite this, I am a living example of somebody of a female persuasion who is oppressed and not given my just reward. The fact that I did not get the top job is clear evidence of this undeniable truth.
(Walking away) But I am not bitter, but I am not bitter, but I am not bitter, but I am not bitter, but I am not bitter, but I am not bitter…
C: (as an aside to self) it will be interesting to see how Hilary fares in the real 21st century world, and not a world where responsibility can be deflected by bluff, bluster, and smoke and mirrors.
Tomorrow – to mark the departure of controversial Professor Lappin-Scott from scandal-hit Swansea University, we re-publish some of the most popular pieces about her by Edwin Phillips.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!