This is a direct follow-up to yesterday’s post, though reading the UBC budget news reported below preceded the writing of the former. Yesterday’s post sets the scene. Hopefully that scene-setting will be followed, as in any decent drama, by action.
The text and commentary that follow below might mean that there may be Less-Bad Days Ahead. Or at least glimmers of hope. Either which way I, as a humanist humanities person, like any excuse to keep Hope And Dreams Alive.
Sources (openly accessible, publicly available):
My grounds for hope are:
- “core academic missions”
- “strengthen our Faculties and provide greater financial support for research and learning”
- “The 2015/16 budget includes more than $6M reallocated from central administrative units on the Vancouver campus, to be used to support our Faculties and facilitate strategic investments. This shift provides greater support to the academic mission of the University, including research and learning.”
- a lack of sales-pitches, marketing-BS, and branding-fluff
- a move from trobar clus to trobar leu, to actual ideas expressed in clear simple language
- simpler sentence-structures that have proper syntax using active verbs of the sort that show agency and, thus, responsibility
- a lack of vacuous rhetorical bombast and–and this is key–a move away from jargon
- language and visual style are cleaner, simpler, more direct: to the point and with a point. An elegance of ideas and expression, of conjoined form and function. This may be a sign of changing times
It may also be a sign of times that have already changed, with a new President and new Team and a consequent new Style. Maybe there’s new Official Writers too. A comparison of the language of the screenshots above with those of yesterday’s burnt offerings certainly suggest to me that a different compositional hand is at work. Let us all pray for a move from PR and advertorial-isers to Court Poets, Historiographers Royal, and the more brilliant sort of Diplomats and Heralds.
It would certainly be new, different, and innovative for a new defining style to be good, sensible, practical, and BS-free.
We are not one of the second- or third- or lower-tier institutions that advertise constantly because they need to. Really genuinely good solid institutions don’t need do. This is, ironically, a branding matter.
We should be aspiring to be like Cambridge or MIT; or like other quality classy “products” who have reputation—that is, solid sustainable style—and who don’t need advertising and marketing teams and campaigns to be fashionable. What fool would want the transience of fashion when they could have style? My hope is that the spare elegance of that Budget Summary might translate to a more generalised approach with the same defining characteristics.
One does not need to sell a brand identity if one already has identity. Real identity, not a fiction (for that is what a “brand” is) invented by second-rate pseudo-imagineers, futurists, and other writers of fiction who, if they were any damn good and had souls as well as talent, would be doing the honest work of creative writing.
I’ll be filling in that form. Much as I loathe and despise forms, I’ll complete and submit this one. Who knows, it might be useful. Hope is a fine and happy thing, whatever comes of it. Or not.
My first suggestion will be to get rid of the marketing, branding, and communications junk and to repurpose one of their buildings (see an earlier post about these fine folks). It’s a palacial mansion, beautifully located with splendid views out to sea and islands. This is also handy for pushing people off cliffs… but that would be terribly mean. I’d settle for resettling that beautiful house as a retirement community for deserving emeritus faculty, valuable worthwhile people, of all ranks including sessional lecturers.
So let’s talk about worth and value. It’s a compromise, I’d rather talk about revolution and Thélème; but at least a life of compromise gives one material for criticism and commentary, food for thought and satire. People like me would be lost in a perfect clean world without hypocrisy and other grime. And life could be much worse, indeed it is elsewhere, and that must not be forgotten.