Reflecting on 2021: A message from your Gold Commander

Dear Peasants Colleagues,

As we come to the end of the year I wanted to write directly to you and note your hard work and determination throughout 2021, despite all the terrible doubts you have had about my leadership and strategy. Even our new KU mascot, Pollyversity the Parrot, seems pleased.

I admit I had very much hoped that many more of you would give your wise VC and my wonderful Senior Team more praise in the recent staff survey, and I am disappointed about the levels of misery I have created across the institution again this year. I must say some of you wrote some very rude things about my leadership, but fortunately this will not be available to the wider public or parents of potential applicants. So there.

Unfortunately, we are once again entering a period of some uncertainty and must be prepared to adapt as necessary. This means I will, once again, be blaming the pandemic for all the poor management you have experienced (yet again) in 2021. In the meantime, you can all contribute to the mission and journey that I have set you.

I have made available via the main website a short set of slides, a snapshot consisting of just 500 images which describe many of my successes and achievements. Despite the continuing pressures of the pandemic, it has been a very rewarding year for me in many ways, and I am grateful for all the money the institution has paid me. You can be very proud of all that we have achieved together.

We kept our research and teaching going despite the challenges and chaos created by my latest round of course and subject closures, and we have supported many of our class of 2021 to graduate in the knowledge that they have managed to gain a Degree in subjects that we will never teach again. I am especially grateful for the concern and support shown to our students as they have had to adapt to a new wave of job losses and the disappearance of many of our best lecturers. My message is simple: adapt, or wallow in misery. The choice is yours.

This has also been another year in which Kingston has continued to improve its academic performance but undermine its reputation. We went up in most league tables, including in the teaching of Politics. However, we decided that Politics was still surplus to requirements, full of nonsense about ‘human rights’, power, policy, accountability and other such irrelevant things, and therefore not in touch with the market or the real world of ‘making things’.

Doing in action

Indeed, I have placed ‘doing things’, ‘making things’ and ‘creative skills’ at the very heart of KU’s mission, with my Future Skills campaign traumatizing dazzling all who are exposed to its make-do message. My campaign has highlighed the supreme importance of ‘creative education’, not just the creative and cultural industries but all sectors of our declining post-Brexit economy, especially those bits that can supply the skills for innovation that my wise vision says we need. Staff will notice that I have put my own creative skills into action throughout 2021: I have created, for example, loads of misery, uncertainty, poor staff  morale, cynicism and a great deal of negative feedback in the staff survey.

In the next exciting stages of my campaign, I intend to build on this creativity and roll out these achievements across the whole institution. As we move away from the outdated ‘University’ model and create a new kind of glorified technical college, I will continue to work with our partners (all three of them) to champion an education system that will leave all in awe at the sheer supremeness of my strategic leadership and make-do philosophy. Even Pollyversity the Parrot has acknowledged my leadership skills and squawks in excitement every time I chair a meeting of the Senior Lack-Leadership-Team. I take that as the ultimate vote of confidence in my VC-ship.

Looking Ahead

Our Polyversity University and English higher education face no shortage of challenges, not least further unnecessary strike action by that miserable bunch of wasters in the so-called lecturer’s Union, but there are also lots of opportunities for us (well, O.K., for me, anyway) to pursue continuous innovation and make-do initiatives. At my initiative, we are starting to discuss our future, and I have spent the whole of the autumn semester visiting each and every one of you to listen to your views and answer all your questions, even though you may not have been in at the time or were perhaps between classes. Although I cannot remember the names of many of those I visited and became a bit lost in some of the campus buildings, I can assure you that there will be further opportunities in the next ten years or so for all colleagues to contribute to this process.

There are also, of course, specific and local plans – not least some further savings and economies that can be made by junking some more of those irrelevant ‘traditional’ subjects. In order to make, we need to do. In order to do, we need to make. Lack of making will not do. More do-do can make do. Common sense, really. An innovative and make-do approach will therefore inform all my decisions.

My next staff address on Wednesday 26 January will provide further opportunity for discussion and to raise issues, and I promise I will not quickly disappear this time before you can pose your questions. Please submit your questions in advance to my PA and I will select the best ones for the benefit of my make-do wisdom.

So, thank you, staff-types, for everything you do and have done for me this year. It has been another demanding year with no sight of a meaningful pay rise for the majority of you, but my second job has managed to see me through the year once again and you will no doubt be relieved to hear that I will be at your service once again after the festive closure period. Chin, chin.

With best wishes,


Professor, Vice-Chancellor, Gold Commander, the UK’s leading architect, and the world’s foremost expert on Swiss Cheeses.

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