Kingston School of Art, the now-bloated love child of vice chancellor Steven ‘it wasn’t me’ Spier and Dean Colin ‘Rhodes to nowhere’, is in trouble. Last week at his welcome event Dean Colin told the assembled School that it was ‘not quite in the black’, and to ensure everyone needed to think about ways to be really sustainable. Sounds practical? Why then did he, reportedly in his best quivering voice, ask all present to care about each other, and not just think of themselves? Why did he warble koala-style encouraging staff to teach into each other’s programmes, to share their expertise? So fewer staff can teach more, of course. Why was his hired hand – the HR hit-woman in the front row – smiling and nodding at his every word, meeting his nervous glances with a reassuring smile reserved for him unless his back is turned? Someone needs to tell her she is HR, not PR.
Rhodes to nowhere is most certainly the long arm, the ever so hapless puppet, of invisible Spier. If he didn’t mess up over in Australia, Rhodes surely will at KSA where the staff are tougher than he. Rhodes’ HR heavy will lose patience with his emotional approach if he doesn’t cut staff soon.
After Dean Colin’s heartfelt address, he introduced his newly-recruited sycophants. The team heard a well-pitched and cloying manifesto of nothing in particular from ‘who-on-earth-is-he’ Andrew Teverson, whose earnest kiss blowing to Rhodes from behind a pseudo-intellectual beard came as a cold draught to everyone else. Next, almost sitting on each other’s laps, were two lightweights of research. Jane ‘pumped-up’ Pavitt grimaced through her crimson lipstick at Rhodes, who she is dumping to take a non-advertised, non-competitive job up at the top with Anne ‘big beads’ Boddington. Apparently grumbling to even stand was Simon More than Worthless. Those present last week think his reluctance to get vertical comes from a fear of being recognised by either those he has already mismanaged, or those who will expect him to do something. Don’t worry Simon, you are bland enough to be quickly forgotten. Alongside these chunky cronies, staff were honoured by the brief introduction of Sarah ‘stick’ Bennett, who occupies her time at Knights Park planning her own next art show. Bennett’s neighbour Angela ‘too dull for description’ Partington showed the crowd how much teaching and learning really is beyond banal. Thankfully Dean Colin stopped the roll call there, leaving the remaining protégés of his pointless initiatives to beam glowingly from behind their oversize designer glasses.
So where are we? Kingston is sinking. Don’t let any of those clunkers from KSA into YOUR lifeboat, however enterprising they promise to be.