As I am about to depart for two months summer break (Tuscany) I thought it was time to bring you up to date with developments on the budgerigar situation. Since I announced to you the disagreeable news about the current budgerigar situation there has been a gap and a pause in the flow of information. This has not been due to neglect or lack of care – the budgerigar has been very well fed and watered, thank you very much (why, we even gave him one of those white flinty things he likes to peck at with a maniacal look in his one good eye!) - and certainly not due to lack of action. Subsequent to my last public address to all staff on 17th June I am pleased to record that both Finance Committee and Council on 25th June accepted our projected figures for 2008-09. This budgerigar however is not one that we can relax into – oh no! Our agreement with Council was that we would now work to erode that deficit through the coming year to achieve a reduced deficit for 2009-10 with the goal of achieving a balanced budgerigar for 2010-11. Our collective progress towards this end will be both monitored by and, I trust, assisted through quarterly reports to and discussions with Finance Committee and SPARC, with perhaps a quiet word in the ear of the bird in question his or her self – no idea what sex it is…must be some way of telling; plumage or the shape of the beak perhaps?
We will all be involved in this process at different levels but to ensure continuity and momentum I have set up an Action Group. This group comprises myself as VC, the Vice Principal, the Director of Resources & Operations, the Director of Finance, the PVC (Strategy and Staff Development - bit hot for that sort of get up, isn't it?), the Head of Planning and the Director of HR as information and advisory officers and David Attenborough (can’t *stand the chap’s films, but he’s a member of the MCC and I can’t afford to miss out on test match tickets – more than my life’s worth!). The Action Group meets weekly and will continue to do so throughout the year; once a week, every week – every seven days in fact, by my watch. It will interact with the Senior Management Group fortnightly, except when there’s cricket on, obviously – you don’t think I’m missing an *over* after having to put up with that grey bearded old luvvie, do you? I am also setting up an Ideas Forum of senior academics and administrators to act as both a generator and disseminator of themes concerning cost saving and income generation across the University’s range of activities. It’s early days obviously, but we’re already looking into the tentative idea of going into the Higher Education sector and offering courses to people, for money - that sort of thing. The aviary is currently only a sideline, but if we can keep the budgerigar sweet, who knows? That could be a nice little earner too – especially if we can persuade the bleeder to do a few funny voices and so on. The suggestions website for all colleagues will soon be functional and our Institute for the Environment are preparing a practical set of energy saving initiatives – cold baths, not leaving doors open and wearing an extra layer in winter, planting our own spuds, that sort of thing - that will apply to us all and impact positively both on the budgerigar and the planet. Oh yes, that’s right - *millet*! Knew there was a name for it. Perhaps we could grow some of that too… I will, of course, continue with my addresses to all staff and will continue to waffle on pompously about our collective successes so there will be no shortage of information and there will be no ignorance of the fact that we are still a fully functional and high achieving university – apart from among senior managers and the public at large, of course who are all wise to the fact that we’re a second rate bunch of jokers – although you have to admit the aviary is very nice, isn’t it? Please do remember this – business as usual! We are no longer in a period of growth and certainly not one of extravagance (apart from my throne, obviously – oh, and the gold lame suit – you’ll have to rip it off my back, buster….) – this is true across the HE sector but we must attend to our University and its particular needs. So there’ll be no turning back on patently brain-dead schemes like self-service machines that allow students to pilfer the Library's book stock (at great expense to the University, I might add) and we will remain completely top-heavy with managers and not employ enough staff to carry out the essential day-to-day activities whilst paying a few eejits to mince around pretending to be Sir Alan Sugar on vastly inflated salaries and making a whopping great cock up of even the simplest organisational task. We must all continue to do our teaching, our research, our administration, our bird-calls but with slightly less slacking in the system than we are accustomed to. So that means an end to elaborate spoofs of the Library newsletter and my waffly spam emails to all members of staff, I’m afraid…
Senior colleagues across the University have already achieved significant reduction in expenditure from their projected budgerigars and I am both proud of them and grateful to them. Any savings that we can make, collectively or individually, will diminish the spectre of future jobs which we surely all want to avoid. The proceeds from the disposal of the R.... campus afford us time to get in a quick cruise in the Caribbean and to rationalise our activities for the best – we do not currently have a cash flow problem (it’s still all under the mattress, least it was last time I looked) but we do have an operating deficit (it’s a bloody heavy mattress, so the 2 months in Tuscany had to go on the company Visa after I put my back out trying to lift the bloody thing to get at the cash flow…). As I said before, we now need to get our income and expenditure back in line. This means that once we have been through the exercise of pruning currant costs (my God, that bird can plough through currants – and sultanas – it’s like a gannet….worse than with the ruddy millet!) we can work effectively on innovative schemes for income generation. And the aviary, of course.
I am going to need the input and support of you all, every one of you. Come on, let’s be having you – all denominations welcome – luncheon vouchers, IOUs – no amount too small… Given that support I will endeavour to ensure that our recovery and turnaround from our present circumstances will be both bottom-up and top-down, from both sides and through the middle – in, out, shake it all about – you do the okey-cokey…that’s it, just through the money in the hat love – it’s for the bird…loves his millet…
L.U.V. on y'all,
Once was Bob