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 revealed she was leaving her scandal-hit institution where a top-level investigation is underway into a questionable multi-million pound land deal, senior officials have been suspended, the police have been called in, and it employed a convicted fraudster.
C: (Excitedly) What a wonderful day, and what wonderful news!
HL-S: (Glumly) I don’t see why you are so happy.
C: (Still excited) Well, the weather has been wonderful and we have just heard that you are, let’s put it kindly, ‘resigning’.
HL-S: (Seriously) Indeed. So why are you not wearing a black tie? Swansea University should be in a period of grief and mourning at the announcement of my departure. It signals the end of a period of academic excellence for the university which is attributable solely to my own personal intellectual contribution, charisma, and sense of fashion.
C: (Grinning) You really think so? Some people might call that ‘delusional’.
HL-S: (Looking into far distance) It is fitting that the university’s own Wikipedia page lists me as one of the distinguished ‘Academics’ along with Wittgenstein and some others whose names I have not heard of (to self) or indeed cannot pronounce.
C: (Still grinning) Probably unwisely, I have enough faith in the university authorities to expect that your name will be expunged from the Wiki list on the day that you leave. Why are you still here anyway? A large number of colleagues, across the university, are looking forward to marking your last day of service (to self) and it cannot come a day too soon.
HL-S: (Coughing) Well, I thought it only fair to stay around so that my university tweeps, and especially those of a female (or thereabouts) persuasion, can come and see me, bring me flowers and chocolates, (to self) and tell me how much their grovelling has paid off in terms of promotion.
It also happens to be the conference season and why should I change my habits when I can turn up at conferences, press the flesh (not literally), and have the university pay my expenses? After all, my global audience demands that I be seen at these events.
C: (Eyes rising to ceiling) So what globetrotting has Swansea University had to pay for recently?
HL-S: (Not noticing sarcasm in question) Well there was a little jaunt to San Francisco for the American Society of Microbiology. I worked really hard. I sent back more than 10 tweets describing conference sessions.
C: (Eyes still on ceiling) And then you presumably had three days swanning around, with all expenses paid?
HL-S: (Still not noticing sarcasm) I have just come back from the Congress of European Microbiologists in Glasgow. As everybody knows, I am the the incoming President of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, and as befits this exalted position, I was presenting my latest mould-breaking research in two of the principal sessions.
C: (Now slapping forehead) Ah, yes, I have seen the programme. One of the sessions that you were due to present was a workshop called ‘Developing Your Networking Skills’, the other was ‘Embedding Equality And Diversity In Microbiology’. In other words (angrily), it was the same old vacuous dross that you have been peddling around the conference circuit for the last decade.
(Calming down) so what will you do once we have got shot of you from Swansea University?
HL-S: (Coughing again) Well, I will be expanding my workload naturally.
C: (To self) that won’t be difficult
HL-S: (Looking into far distance once more) I will of course be working closely with top-tier universities on my specialities of diversity and equality. That is, provided I am given preference over all my (quaintly-named) co-workers in terms of conditions and pay. It is only a matter of time before I will undoubtedly get a Royal warrant of appointment to Her Maj (did I tell you I met her daughter?), just in case she has any issues that she wishes to discuss regarding diversity. I am looking forward to it.
C: (Angrily again, and letting any pretence at civility fall) Those of us at Swansea University are also looking forward to the day when we can begin to restore our academic credibility and be free from decisions made by a capricious, self-serving and mediocre member of the Senior Management Team.
Tomorrow – why legal action may now be taken at Swansea University against a libellous, anonymous campaigner who aims to undermine the major investigation underway and who supports Hilary Lappin-Scott.
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