Nieuws - 9 juni 2011

The monkey house of higher education

For a good snigger this summer at the university management culture, the book Promo Sapiens by R. DuBois would be the best bet. In this parody of an enterprising university, the son of a deceived scientist sets a trap for Hella, the ambitious executive board president, who readily takes the bait.

The satire is written by Ruud van den Bos, behavioural biologist at the Utrecht University. So we get to peek into our neighbour's premises and its colourful line-up of administrators and researchers.
First of all, there is the female executive board president who would do anything to gain honour and glory for the university, which happen to coincide with her own interests. The story's protagonist, the son of a deceived scientist, invites her to the tv programme 'Holland's Next Top Professor'. That was actually a trap, but the ambitious president has in the meantime worked herself so far away from the university that she was unable to pick up the signals around her.

Besides the executive board president, the other characters include: a market-minded professor who misappropriates a colleague's discovery and shamelessly imposes himself upon the women in the university, a management board which is afraid to take action against this Nobel prize nominee, an employee of the research institute for Participative and Empirical Anthropology who is a slut, a gay rector magnificus, and a wheelchair-bound financial director. These and the 'quotum girls' (the female professors) together fulfil the targets of a politically correct education ministry.

The executive board president in the book is not Yvonne van Rooij, who bears the same position in Utrecht University, says Van den Bos.  His character Hella is a model of the modern university management culture where everything pivots around outward appearances. Wageningen readers are free to see in the characters of DuBois the reflections of their own colleagues, and decide too whether the grass in Utrecht is greener than that in Wageningen. Even our friends in Van Hall Larenstein can have their share of fun in this parody of the monkey house of higher education.

Promo Sapiens, a satire by R. Dubois, 97 pages, ISBN 978-908548285-7 (In Dutch)