As absurd as the title Director of the Institute of Directors sounds — and it does sound like a title one would jokingly give oneself if one were to set up a ghost institute with a fancy webpage to give the impression of influence, import and impact (I’m not saying that’s what IoD is, just that if I were to set up a sham organization, I’d model it along the same lines) — apparently the group is an influential force for promoting its members interests, that is directors of all sorts and stripes. Its clearly not as overtly political as the groups that I recognize from an adolescence in DC, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, but I suspect many of those people might be comfortable at the same cocktail parties. However, I lack the ‘local knowledge’ (if I might borrow a phrase ‘branded’ by HSBC in this context) to characterize it properly.
In any event, calling in a group of directors to defend budget cuts, especially with respect to subjects that they must feel are esoteric like palaeography, does seem to be rather incongruous.
I understand that ‘dusty’ academics are often thought of as less than sympathetic and indentifiable figures in the press. But, if I put myself in the shoes of someone outside both of the academy and of the upper echelons of commerce, I’m not sure who would cut the more reasonable figure in the debate. When I hear a ‘buy-out specialist’ defend university cuts because of the financial crisis, I reflexively think: but what value have you added to the economy? aren’t you the types who brought about this mess, but seem to be doing fine nonetheless? You get the picture.
Yes, I know that it’s the bankers fault, not the marketers, strictly speaking. But if you’ve got a spacey academic and a consultant-type (one who has worked with/for Accenture, you know that consulting group that went by another name before a previous financial super foul-up?), who is going to seem the more in-touch and down-to-earth representative? That’s no ‘slam dunk’.
But enough of matters more apt for the public relations specialists, I urge people to check out the letters posted on-line, as Denis Muzerelle, author of the essential Vocabulaire codicologique, reminds us (view letters here) and write new ones.