I have now read for the second time Marina Warner’s essay published by the London Review of Books. You can read it here.
Another UK University, this time in Essex, is in disgrace.
Internet is changing some aspects of the world we live in. Faster and easier verbal communication between individuals with more dialogues appearing intentionally in the public domain. In separate conversations, I engaged today with Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics in the Department of Law at Queen Mary University of London and with Anne Marie Cunningham, General Practicioner and Clinical Lecturer in Cardiff University, Wales, UK, neither of whom have I met in person. My “good friend and colleague” also blogged over the use of words in misuse of power, in reply to last night’s tweet from Mexico City! The conversations follow below and can be independently accessed via our respective twitter accounts; I have assumed twitter users don’t mind the reproduction.
Reposting published items on John’s dismissal written by others.
“Now they have got around to sacking John as well, on what has all the appearance of being a trumped-up charge (failing to obey an order from the Head of School)… If you appoint independent thinkers (as surely any university worthy of the name must do), you should not be surprised when they think independently.”
Ο Αβραάμ, Ισραηλινός στρατιώτης, σημαδεύει τα παιδάκια την ώρα που παίζουν στην παραλία της Παλαιστίνης. Πέτυχε ένα. Τόσο γρήγορα ξεψύχησε που δεν μπόρεσε να μη σκεφτεί: “πιο γρήγορα κι από το ψάρι, εκείνο τουλάχιστον για λίγα λεπτά σπαρταρεί”. Με δύο φίλους κι ένα τόπι παίζανε. Ο ένας έφυγε, μάλλον να ειδοποίησει ή για να καλυφθεί. Ο άλλος πετάει πέτρες κατά τη μεριά του καραβιού. Τι παράξενες συνήθειες… Θα καπνίσω ένα τσιγάρο. Αν συνεχίσει και μετά να πετάει πέτρες, θα πει πως είναι από τους φανατισμένους και δε θα του βγει σε καλό.
Summary – here I continue a previous comment on the same subject with a new twist to the story. Introducing 400 students to a major subject in biology during a full term is a significant task, especially if their education is to be at a higher level. It took me three years of guided preparation before I was asked to teach the full Cell Biology module single-handedly at Queen Mary University of London. I was then sacked because I opposed dubious management practice so someone else (sadly with fewer qualifications) was recruited and asked to perform this teaching instead. The student body protested in their evaluation forms and the newly recruited lecturer didn’t get her contract renewed. Here I summarise what followed her departure.
The historical King’s College London is in trouble, or at least this is what Sir Robin Murray, FRS and Professor of Psychiatric Research (Mass Redundancies at King’s College London are destroying morale), David Colquhoun, FRS and Professor of Pharmacology (Bad financial management at Kings College London means VC Rick Trainor is firing 120 scientists) and Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology (No logic in King’s College job cuts) suggest, and they are not alone.
Δύο είδη αδικίας βλέπω.
Στο ξυπόλητο παιδί των φαναριών,
Στην αξυρισιά του άστεγου που του κόλλησαν τα γένια,
Στον πνιγμό του κηνυγημένου που του λήστεψαν τη χώρα,
Στη γυναίκα που τη λύγισαν πριν χειραφετηθεί,
Υπάρχει το πρόσωπο, η στόχευση, το συμφέρον του καπιταλιστή.
Υπάρχει όμως και το στρίψιμο της ματιάς του γείτονα με το σκυμμένο κεφάλι.
Η γνώση, πανάκριβη και μοναχή, όταν δεν τη βάζουμε στων παιδιών τα θρανία και στων γονιών τα βιβλία.
Πάμε πάλι από την αρχή. Τι θα πούμε στα παιδιά μας ότι είναι το σωστό. Και πώς το αποφασίσαμε εμείς;
When a country needs a Council for the Defence of its Universities, something has gone wrong.”What is happening in your university? Help us record the rot”, CDBU asks. Various responses are being published on the creeping Stalinisation (sic) by the cadre of managers who perceive themselves as a new kind of officer class that is strangling the proper function of UK universities.
Rick Trainor receives an annual remuneration of £321,000. He should be asked to return every single pound he has received from this institution for the damage he is inflicting upon Kings College and its students. Voltaire once wrote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”. Martin Parker of the University of Leicester recently found out what he meant. Thomas Docherty, Sarah Sayce, John Allen are also learning.
Summary – the story below describes the preparation required to provide a high-quality series of lectures to university students and what happens when corporate management takes over university governance. After I was dismissed someone was employed full-time to cover the teaching of cell biology. A year later this person was also dismissed.
John Allen is a close scientific collaborator, a monster of knowledge (excuse the literal translation from the Greek τέρας γνώσεως) who has honoured me with his friendship. If ever a colleague is missing, this wasn’t the case in the department I joined in 2007. But then things changed. First, when the best brain in our department was sent to live on benefits, against the signatures of most of his academic colleagues and despite a number of very senior external colleagues stepping in his defense. At the time, John and I published our first joint letter:
Firing excellence. Is this the wrong way forward? Fanis Missirlis and John F. Allen – 30 June 2009 in “Statements concerning the research achievements, qualities and potential of Dr Robin Maytum”.
The decision to dismiss Robin Maytum has been a mistake. In a few words, we will discuss some of the misconceptions that seem to have led to this decision. Embedded in this discussion is our view of the School’s research strategy. The key proposition is that we must foster a friendly and collaborative scientific environment, built on mutual trust. We shall then produce world-class contributions, and attract the best people from all over the world for collaboration. We are in the unique position of having a collegial merge of talented biologists and chemists that encompasses a very broad research scope, working in a beautiful campus in a vibrant city.