Recently, I posted this picture from the University of Sydney, affectionately representing that institution's tendency to vague and confusing guidelines. The cloister is quite a pleasant place to wait for further instructions, so we forgive the vagueness.
But as far as cloisters go, I thought Melbourne's was beautiful, when I visited that university a few weeks ago, though a little over-cloistered with the chain:
I wondered whether perhaps this massively ornate carpark entrance was just a little OTT:
and whether anyone had informed the university that Professor Florey had died in 1968 and would be not be able to walk that way:
But it takes a powerful marketing department to convince the university that it is a good idea to do this:
This poster on a beautiful sandstone tower in no way makes me want to study an executive arts masters at Melbourne and that is only partly because I could not see how a woman sitting with some empty plastic chairs was going to do that. You can see the ad here, an ad I also find disturbing for "At last, a school that teaches you how to think, not what to think" - what was the Arts faculty doing before?
However, the poorly selected picture (and text) is the least of the problems with sticking marketing posters on lovely old buildings.
The problem with this is what it represents - that marketing a new masters program (a program that on the surface, I should say, sounds like a good idea) has a higher priority for the university than intellectual integrity. This might sound silly, for it is just a building, not a textbook, but symbols are important as we know and this really sends a message - and the wrong one - in my view.
I have a feeling that the recent development in attaching equivalent power to professional managers as to academic governance is a part of this problem - for example recent news about universities giving professional managers unearned professorial titles. Another example at Melbourne was this:
The problem with this is not that professional managers do unimportant work in universities, on the contrary (and I've been one myself, so I hardly want to knock them). But universities are communities of scholars and must be run by them.
Just to be clear - the problem is not confined to Melbourne University by any means.