A ripple of surprise ran through the Honours students assembled for the first lecture of the year in one of their four elective subjects. The man in the black academic gown was not the lecturer they had been expecting. He strode to the lectern and said brusquely, “You will all have noticed that I am not Professor O’Malley. He was to have returned to his teaching duties here this semester but his sabbatical has been unilaterally extended by Veringian government. Those of you who have been following the current crisis in the Franco-Deutsch-Swiss triangle will no doubt share the faculty’s concern for his continued safety.” The sharp eyes looked at the class over the lecturer’s reading glasses. “Yes, Mr Bartholomew?”
“Sir, Professor O’Malley was supposed to be the faculty adviser for my thesis.” The awkward young man looked nervous, “Who will be replacing him?”
“Who else’d let you play around with a crazy conspiracy theory?” That male-voiced comment floated up from the other side of the room.
“As it happens,” the lecturer interposed, “I have read your thesis proposal, Mr Batholomew. Like all the others, it requires refinement but I believe it has promise. I will enjoy guiding your progress in the coming year.” He expanded his regard to include the rest of the class, “Those others of you who also had Professor O’Malley as faculty adviser will find the revised list of advisers on the faculty noticeboard.” He looked in the direction of the interjection. “Mr Dumfries, I encourage both smart and clever in my classes, but I do not tolerate smart-aleckery. Keep it up and I’ll keep you in mind for the next time I need a body. Are there any more questions?”
A young man whose appearance spoke of a background from the subcontinent raised his hand.
“Yes, Mr Singh?”
“Sir, will there be any changes to the published assessment schedule?” Rajendra Singh was poised to make notes.
“Yes.” The lecturer looked around the room. “A 750 word task due halfway through this semester is worth 20% of your marks. The 1500 word paper on a set topic, due at the beginning of second semester is worth 30% of your mark. Your plan for world domination, due the first day of second semester final exams, is worth 50%. You must attend at least 75% of classes in this course for me to mark your written work.”
“What if we’re too busy enacting our world domination plan to attend class?” The same voice interjected again.
“Mr Dumfries, please learn to adhere to class etiquette.” The lecturer looked over his glasses at the interjector. “It would make our acquaintance far less painful. However, all of you please keep in mind that this is an Honours-level political science course. I do not require undergraduates to enact their plans and neither do I give extra credit for attempting to complete the course at a higher level than required. Successful implementation of a world domination plan is only required in Doctorate level courses.” A hand went up at the front of the room. “Miss Woodrow?’
“Sir, wouldn’t we have noticed if someone had achieved world domination?” The honey blonde in the second row pouted.
He riposted, “Would you?” He glanced around the auditorium. “Your first class assignment, ladies and gentlemen. In 50 to 100 words due at the beginning of next class, why might a person in your position not have noticed that someone had achieved world domination?” He glared at the red head who was staring at an open book in front of her instead of making notes. “Miss McCaffery, what is so much more interesting than your first assignment?”
She looked up, snapped back from wherever her mind had been. “Sorry sir.” She stood the book up so he could see the cover. “Faculty handbook sir.” A half beat pause then, “Are you Professor Moriarty, sir?”
He gave a thin lipped smile. “Yes.”