The University of Cambridge (est. 1209) is proud to announce news that will bring together the previously too-distant worlds of celebrity and academia in dynamic and ground breaking ways: from Michaelmas term 2006, Paris Whitney Hilton, hotel heiress and celebutante, will be our new Vice-Chancellor.

The crowning of Noam Chomsky as the World’s Leading Public Intellectual and that of Madeleine Bunting as Director of think tank Demos have taught us that there is more than one way to spell intellectual ‘rigour’; now we want to teach the world that there’s more than one definition of ‘vice’,” explains Dr Lethree Clevadge, Spokesperson for Cambridge University. “Media dons like Simon Schama and Richard Dawkins have been appearing on prime-time television as talk of the importance of the ‘Knowledge Economy’ has swelled, but we at Cambridge pride ourselves on being ahead of the academic wave. The ascent of the ‘differently informed’ to prominent positions in British society—from Chris Moyles to Zac Goldsmith—presages a global transition towards what we are calling the ‘Ignorance Economy’. In this climate, we at Cambridge consider it increasingly key to widen access to those previously held back by their lack of interest in formal education. We want to leverage our investment in differently informed public figures to achieve buy-in from the corresponding customer demographic.”

Dr Clevadge is quick to point out however that, despite her wide-ranging cluelessness, Paris Hilton is no tabula rasa; her unique skills will be a perfect fit for the University going forward. “Ms Hilton’s experience of the international hospitality business will be especially valuable as the University seeks to maximise the return on investment in its accommodation and other conference and event facilities and expand the Cambridge Educational Experience™ into a global franchise. Ms Hilton is already well known to our current and future students and is a role model to many young people. Her visibility on the international stage will also be a huge asset to our ancient institution. In fact, it could be said that even some of our most famous buildings are less familiar to overseas tourists as photographic subjects than Ms Hilton’s own assets—although visitor access to college properties is slightly more restricted.”

Our current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, is indeed a renowned expert on primate behaviour, but few would argue that Ms Hilton’s fieldwork in this area has been more extensive and in-depth. As Dr Clevadge adds hastily, “We are massively grateful to Professor Richard for her contribution during her tenure and wish her every luck as she begins her new venture, launching Givenchy’s new fragrance Eau de UL.”

Ms Hilton was overheard by someone who had cracked her mobile phone as saying, “I am psyched. I’m gonna be the face of Umbrage University, England! Prince William is hot .”

Madeleine Bunting, Director of think tank Demos, commented, “The idea that a world-leading university should be run by the barely literate heiress to a vast fortune. Is that so crazy? Actually, it’s raising a very interesting point, which we all know plenty about—which is that we’ve bred a certain kind of professional academic leader. What kind of person are they? You only have to meet some academics to think, where is the hinterland? Where is the hot pink Motorola Razr with iTunes compatibility? To what extent are these people under such colossal pressure that they’ve actually lost touch with a wider human understanding of life?”

Press Notes

Cambridge University is the second best higher educational establishment in the United Kingdom.

Paris Hilton is the holder of a General Educational Development certificate from the Dwight School in New York and the 2005 Worst Supporting Actress Razzie for her appearance in House of Wax. Until she takes up her position as Vice-Chancellor she will continue to occupy a cosmetics chair at Laboratoires Garnier.

Dr Clevadge has spent too much time under too low a Sun Protection Factor on the patio outside management conference seminars.

Prof Alison Richard is just so five minutes ago.

Madeleine Bunting is having a laugh, isn’t she?