Editor’s Note: This story appeared as part of an April Fools issue.

The Institute for Theoretical Alchemy named Sir Steven of Giddinfield as its new director on Monday. Sir Steven will assume his post today with the portentous beginning of a new moon.

“I am honoured by this new estate and will do my lowly best to guide this science through its infant humours,” Sir Steven said. “As we enter a new millennium, we will need the answers and potions of this institute’s most honorable philosophers. Ye Gods willing, we can look forward to a bright alchemical future.”

Sir Steven replaces the ITA’s previous director, David Grossingham, who was convicted of hexing Chancellor Henry VIII’s fifth wife and causing her to birth a two-headed child. Grossingham was strapped to his chair and catapulted into the lagoon following a brief trial.

Grossingham’s catapulting cleared the way for Sir Steven, who won last year’s Nobel Prize in transmutation for his conversion of lead into pyrite. Henry VIII said he is looking forward to returning the institute to the path of godliness and learning.

“Sir Steven is a consensus builder and he is moving everything forward effectively and smoothly with his excellence,” the Chancellor said. “We are fortunate to have him as our academic leader and the feedback about his appointment has been goodly agreeable from all segments of the campus, particularly after their passions were tested by the rack.”

The praise was accepted graciously by Sir Steven, who said he would do his best to earn his lord’s confidence. As a first step, he said, all red-haired scientists will be eviscerated to purify the ITA.

“Their fiery locks do betray the flames of Hell and their master,” Sir Steven said. “Only by their blood can they purify their shiftless evil.”

After the eviscerations, Sir Steven said he is looking forward to working the institute’s angel theorie physicists. UCSB is considered by many to be one of the nation’s leading angel theory research institutions. Angel theory, Sir Steven said, may revolutionise our concept of the universe by revealing how many of the heavenly creatures can dance on the head of a pin.

“It doth sound like a frivolous question, but in actuality it is not,” Sir Steven said. “This goes to the heart of God’s universe. Right now we believe as many as 12 seraphim may dance on the head of a pin, but their may be ‘sideways’ angels that we have yet to account for.”

Sir Steven said he will personally direct the ITA’s quest for the a fifth universal element.

“We’re calling it ‘funding,’ ” Sir Steven said. “We believe it moves everything.”