New Year Message from Your Golden Commander

The Dissenter blog has been given a copy of the first draft of the VC’s New Year message. We thought you would like to see the original before it was edited and redrafted.

Greetings My Workforce!

If you don’t follow Myself on social media or have missed me on my special KU videos, I thought you would like to hear from me directly to your inbox during your precious few days off.

As we approach the final hours of 2020 and the end of a trying but productive term, I think we should be proud of all that we have achieved together as a University (but Myself in particular) to overcome this most challenging of years. I congratulate both Myself and you, my workers, for our ability to adapt quickly and creatively this year and to support each other through this most difficult time. Our forbearance coupled with my expertise has allowed us to see students progress, pay their enormous fees and graduate, to welcome brand new students to an exciting new academic year, and has successfully seen our students through the first term of a blended online and on-campus nightmare satisfactory experience. These are significant achievements and I thank you all for your dedication to Myself, our students, your research (when you can find time to do it), and the University.

There have, of course, been some disappointments. Our amazing new Town House finally opened three months behind schedule, but I was unable to hold the huge opening ceremony I had planned in May for staff, students and the local peasants residents. I know that all the invited local dignitaries, student Union reps, and members of the Board of Governors were really looking forward to hearing me deliver a pharty hearty speech I had worked on for many months of hard toil. I had even managed to edit it down to just under five hours. But, alas, it was not to be. And to those critics who have questioned the internal design of our fantastical new building, I say ‘Swiss cheese’. As a leading architectolologist, I know a lot more about sheds buildings than the guys who know about architecture – and let me tell you, sunshine, that the Town House is a true marvel to behold, which in coming years will be held up as a building of immense natural beauty and as one of the seven million wonders of the modern world and will (cont. for 90 pages).

The other disappointment, which I am sure you will all share, is that I had to cancel the SLT’s annual grand Xmas dinner and booze-up in Windsor Great Park, one of the highlights of your my working year. However, the good news is that I have set up a special anti-covid big meal contingency fund, worth a million pounds (the money I had originally set aside for the Town House opening ceremony), so that the SLT and selected Board members can have at least five special 10-course dinners during 2021 and celebrate my our KU’s many, many achievements in 2020, and all those other ones that I have achieved since I kindly agreed to become your VC in 2016 2017.

A Successful First Term

Our preparations for a return to teaching were superbly led by Dr. David ‘Mack the Knife’ Mackintosh, Has-been Dean of SEC and pro-VC, Chair Oversight Group, BSc (hons), PhD (London), CBiol, FRSB, OTT, SnoRe, ZZZ, and ably delivered by all the members of the steering group and special task groups. We have now closed down the steering group as it lost its way and also the task groups as much of what remains to take forward can be done through our usual business – i.e. Myself coming up with bright new ideas rooted in my inspired foresight. As our SEC Dean is now clapped worn out, I have also appointed Prof. Andy ‘Handy Andy’ Kent, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice Chair of Silver Command, to help Mack the Knife steer our transition to the future and also to stop him falling asleep in meetings, as part of our vision of how we can optimise the decisions made so far and activities undertaken, as we need to thrive as a University and avoid the impression that we have, er, steered off course and completely lost our way strategically. Our visionary Road-Map will steer us around new corners, nasty bends and other bumpy challenges and there will be no U-turns as long as I remain your, er, driver Vehicle Vice-Chancellor. All hands to the wheel!

To this end, we have also assessed our new strategic capabilities, many of which are about how we work and steer and how we teach and learn and drive, thanks to our greatly enhanced digital capabilities and our capable mastery of new big words such as forbearance and, er, capabilities. Our achievements and capabilities in the first term show we are capable able and agile enough (except for Dave, of course) to work and drive in this alternative way, and evidence in a quick survey I conducted did on the KU inter-site bus one day last October suggests that our students are incredibly grateful (in fact tearful) for the opportunity I have provided to them to remain part of our driving thriving, vibrant and very, er, capable Kingston community, with full access to both online and on-campus facilities and capabilities other bits (when they work). Yes, we are a truly Civic University, driven by a civic culture and system: we think like a system and act like entrepreneurs, enabling a full range of capabilities to be adapted via an optimal strategy.

Battle Stations

Our response to the pandemic and to the ever-developing governmental guidance will be managed as usual through our very capable Silver and Gold Command governance (an idea I plagiarised borrowed from an old edition of the Big Battle Book for Boys I inherited from my old Ma and Pa back in the good old U.S. of A.). I know many of you have expressed deep reservations about the pseudo-military and pathetically masculine language of the new Gold, Silver and Bronze Command structure that I have put in place since last March, but I strongly refute such unfair and carping criticisms: both the University Registrar, Keith Bren-gun, and myself (your Gold Commander) strongly feel (and the Board of Governors have been forced to agree with us on this) that we have been, and still are, at war, and war capabilities require a top-down military managerial command structure where I can demonstrate my executive command capabilities and ably issue capable commands from the newly refurbished Command Bunker in Holmewood House, where I have installed a brand new sofa in camouflaged khakigreen, helped in my strategic planning by my Silver sub-Commanders, their various Bronze subordinates and some old radio Walkie-Talkies commandeered in a gold way from KU Security (see my next video). Plus I drink lots of Nescafe Gold blend.

One piece of very good news for myself you all is that we have finally seen off that annoying so-called newspaper The River, as the editor retired and there have been no editions of the stupid thing paper since the pandemic hit. Their persistent questioning became tiresome and I was really Hacked Off at times. We are working on a brand new KU monthly news-sheet, The Hogsmill, to be edited solely by Myself, so that is something for all staff and students to look forward to in 2021. The first issue will look at my life so far which, if I may say so, is a modest story of humble beginnings in Canada and the USA and then, through my drive, vision, contact lenses, and unique capabilities, becomes a tale of a dramatic rise to fame and fortune (and, I am sure, an inevitable Knighthood for my services to HE. Just you wait and see). A free video will also accompany the launch.

Driving Marching Forward: Our KU22 Strategic War Plan

This year has of course been arduous and we have all (but most especially Myself) exerted an immense effort to adapt our fighting capability and ably deliver to our best capabilities. I have initiated another review of our capital investments, led by Dr. Phil Space, MA, PhD (Oxon), PVC, and also a new review of our key performance indicators (KPIs) on gender equality, led by our man from Sussex, Prof. Simon Worthless, BA, MA, DPhil (motto: ‘Keeping the S.E.X. in Sussex’). Given the Promiscuous Prof’s past history with PAs, and the tiresome cover-up I had to arrange on his behalf (what a pain), and also to overcome the constant sniping of other SLT types, I have forced Prof. Moron (despite his moans) to now share a PA with Prof. Anne of Boddington.

I have also been delighted to welcome Emma Bunton as our new Executive HR Director. Emma Emily replaces our useless Interim Head of HR, Peter Much-chill, who in turn replaced the truly disastrous former director of HR, Arthur Daley Simon Stoned. I am a big fan of Emma’s songs from her days in the Spice Girls, and we shall soon institutionalise her into my KU’s ways of doing things. One of her first big tasks in 2021 will be to reduce the huge size of the sum we have had to set aside for our many out-of-court settlements made with disaffected current and former members of staff. Emily will also put in place a new clause in your employment contracts, whereby anybody who wishes to act on behalf of the University dressed as David Bowie, or attend international conferences as the said David Bowie, or indeed speak like Mr. Bowie in any way whatsoever, must get written permission to do so from Myself and Myself only.

So that we can continue to prosper and thrive, I must now return our focus to delivering the strategic war aims of KU in a structured, capable and less chaotic way, rooted in the philosophic values of business, innovation and Swiss cheese that have always been my creative watchwords. These aims and capabilities were outlined in our exciting new KU22 Strategic War Battle Plan launched in early March, just before the pandemic hit and our war-fighting command structure came under enormous operational pressure from both within and without.

KU22 defines our overwhelming war capabilities overarching priorities for the next two weeks years in order to improve academic performance and battle capability across all commands domains. As a senior lack-of-leadership team, we have (well, I have) reviewed the projects needed to deliver our aims to ensure we position ourselves ably and strategically in the evolving policy environment and the impending demands on and opportunities for Higher Education. I can announce that new project groups are being set up as I write, led by very capable members of the senior lack-of-leadership team (OK, mainly by me really). I can also announce that, in order to optimise our MarComms strategy, and because I have been so impressed with my own videos, I have consulted Myself and I have agreed that we will be setting up a new inhouse management consultancy, Spier Spin Inc. Consultants (SSInC), which will enable us to wean myself ourselves off the huge sums we have been spending on useless outside consultants. I have invited some bids from the leading consultants Deloitte and McKinsey to oversee this inhouse transition in an efficient and capable manner from the outside looking in, and I envisage this new contract will be completed by 2022 2023 2024 2030, or as soon as we can find some additional staff savings.


Next year, as we gradually emerge from the global pandemic and face the enormity of our financial debts, we I will need to consider what will come beyond 2022, so I have recruited a nice lady called Mystic Meg from a leading newspaper so that we can evolve our strategic war plan and look further ahead into the wilderness by defining more precisely the level of my ambitions and what it will take to achieve them before I quickly retire with a wide-ranging remuneration-and-pension package and the shit really hits the fan. More details will be made available soon, or as soon as I can sort out the bitchy rows in the SLT, with interesting opportunities for you (yes, you there, at the back, sitting at home) to make your contribution to the delivery of my aims.

I want to again express my enormous ingratitude gratitude for your commitment to KU. We have ridden a rough storm so far, tossed here and there on the unpredictable waves of misfortune and all-out war, with more to come I am sure, but I have done so much better than most. I am grateful that we are a strong, capable and adaptable team, and I am supremely confident that I will approach the new year with the same dedication and spirit and enormous wage-packet that I have always enjoyed, a spirit that has seen us through the last 9 months and a loyalty to the cause that I will fully expect from you for the next 9 months too, until I sort out which bits of dead wood we need to further cull as part of our strategic vision and, er, visionary efficiency drive plan. I urge you all to put your shoulders to the wheel, to push that wheel further up the hill, and to meet the challenge of change as we transform our vision from one that works into one that (contin. for 90 pages).

With best wishes,

Professor Steven Spier,

VC, Gold Commander and all-round Hero.

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