Bear with me here…

… It’s spring. It’s sunny, cool, slight breeze, Garrett Park, Maryland. “The Park,” as some people call it (sounds pretentious to ol’ UD) is in industrial-strength bloom. Many friends, old and new, are emerging for brunches, lunches, and dinners at Black Market Bistro, a few hundred steps from UD‘s house.

And why not? This is the time to be here, a boffo Sunday in the right season, with UD‘s hometown arboretum pumping out its best views ever. Visitors don’t need to know how these tranquil plantings represent endless quibbling and kvetching at the Town Council (Why are we taking down the tulip poplars? Is that cherry tree unusual enough? What do you have against bamboo?…); they only need to breathe in the scent of the viburnums.

All of which is to say ne quittez pas. UD will get back on the blog horse in a few hours. At the moment, on top of her social obligations, she’s got to practice reciting It is Marvellous to Wake Up Together, which she will be reading next week at the wedding of her friends Courtney and Alicia. They asked UD to choose something, and they both very much like Elizabeth Bishop’s love poem.

It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
To feel the air suddenly clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.

An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lighting struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one’s back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.

****************

‘Course, UD could get the same message across at the ceremony by clearing her throat and singing this.

Galveston, oh Galveston…

… you’ve produced a species of cheap irony:  A management professor who cannot manage his management class.

 

Whatever the back story, UD would argue that a professor who sends his students a long rant denouncing them and puffing himself up, and who announces in the same email that he’s failing every last one of them and deserting the class (he seems to have handed it off to someone else on the faculty) is un p’tit peu out of control. Texas A&M Galveston has a strategic management problem on its hands.

Sure, some professors occasionally walk out of their classes in the middle of a lecture or discussion. Scott Jaschik reviews a few such cases here. In these examples, however, it’s about something very specific — students texting, or watching films on their laptops. In the Galveston case, the professor’s email (assuming the paper covering the story has published the correct email) shades off into the paranoid, with talk of whisper campaigns against him and his wife, and of needing police protection to teach the class.

UD doesn’t doubt that this guy’s got some shitskies in his class. You’re not supposed to deal with them by going nuclear.

Kick Me Again

Lucye Millerand, president of the [Union of Rutgers Administrators], pointed to the $1.2 million in severance pay Rutgers made to Mike Rice, a former men’s basketball coach, Tim Pernetti, former athletic director, and John Wolf, former interim senior vice president and general counsel, after their departure following a public outcry over a video that showed abusive behavior by Rice toward players on the court.

“Rutgers’ budget seems to have money for crazy priorities,” Millerand said. “That 1.2 million would be about a 1 percent raise for my entire union of 2,300 people. If there is money to reward people that embarrassed the university so badly they had to go, why does management tell us they don’t have that much money to bring an equivalent settlement with Rutgers’ faculty.”

Rutgers’ masochistic relationship with its coaches draws some criticism.

Swiney

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney on Wednesday reiterated reservations about how schools will implement the oncoming trend of providing “full cost of attendance” to scholarship student-athletes. He said that while he’s all for “modernizing the scholarship,” he opposes “professionalizing college athletics.”

Mr. Swinney’s defense of the amateur-athletics ideal would sound more convincing if he weren’t making $3.3 million this year to coach Clemson on a contract that runs through the 2021 season.

“If there is no fall semester at LSU, would the school be able to field a football team?”

Absolutely. UD has said it for years – in the United States, you don’t need a university to have a university football team. Several American universities already are, for most purposes, football teams. Their presidents are their six million dollar a year coaches. Their trustees are ex-football players or football boosters.

So she’d suggest posing the question about the possible bankruptcy of Louisiana State University like this:

If there is no football team, would the school be able to field a fall semester?

Natural Superannuation

M.H. Abrams, whose Natural Supernaturalism illuminated Romantic poetry for generations of literature students, has died at the amazing age of 102.

Here’s a passage UD has always liked, linking Wordsworth and Wallace Stevens:

[The] Romantic endeavor to salvage traditional experience and values by accommodating them to premises tenable to a later age has continued to be a prime concern of post-Romantic poets. Stevens expressly identified the aim “of modern poetry” as the attempt to convert the setting and agents and language of Scripture into


The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.

Among modern poets none stays so close to some of Wordsworth’s formulations as Stevens does…

Shall she not find, he enquires about his protagonist in “Sunday Morning,”

In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself…
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?…
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.

Stevens represents the musing in solitude of a modern woman as she savors the luxuries of her Sunday breakfast in a brilliant un-Wordsworthian setting of sun, rug, coffee and oranges, and a green cockatoo. In these subdued lines, however, we recognize something approximating the high argument of the Romantic poet who (while “Beauty – a living Presence of the earth” waited upon his steps) proclaimed the power of the mind of man to realize an equivalent of “Paradise, and groves / Elysian, Fortunate Fields,” by the “consummation” of a union with the common earth which will require of us “nothing more than what we are.”

“It’s a little upsetting. You had more than enough ammo to fire him outright. He was an at will employee[;] there was no contract. There’s no reason. Unless you’re trying to hide something. There was no reason to tell him here’s a quarter of a million dollars.”

Quite the cascade of events in the Little Rock Arkansas school district, where things were so bad the state took over, and now there’s a lawsuit from the dysfunctional school board the state ousted…

And now, the Little Rock superintendent turns out to have plagiarized … maybe more than plagiarized… in some accounts, it sounds as though he virtually stole another person’s dissertation… And I guess the general consensus would be that the top official of a large educational system probably shouldn’t be a massive plagiarist who when asked about it says he doesn’t think he “consciously” plagiarized.

So he has had to resign.

But the person quoted up there in UD‘s headline – Matt Campbell, who discovered the plagiarism – is confused as to why the guy, having lied and embarrassed the state and all, got a large money award. UD thinks he’s probably right that that most benighted of American states thought it would be clever to give him money to go away and in that way make the story of their having hired a superintendent without checking the legitimacy of his credentials (it’s easy to put documents through plagiarism-finders) go away. It wasn’t very clever.

*********

UD thanks a reader for correcting her identification of the person quoted in this post’s headline.

‘“People say, ‘Look at the price of the plane,’ and I say, ‘Look at what we’re paying coaches,’ said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White, an Anderson Republican who sits on the Joint Bond Review Committee, which will review the request. “It’s the times.”’

There’ll always be a Clemson.

Husbanding your compost…

… or vice versa.

UD’s latest dispatch from Garrett Park …

… is titled Splashdown at Penn Place.

A snapshot of life in the town in which UD grew up. The town where, after college, grad school, and ten years on Capitol Hill, she bought a house.

(The zzz is a typo.)

There’s a man dressed like George Washington…

… striding the campus. A camera crew trails him. He’s got the whole get-up, including the funny white ponytail. Like this.

I’m pretty sure this is related to the fact that prospective students are here this weekend (what luck for the school – it’s one of the most beautiful spring seasons I’ve seen in DC) to decide whether, having been admitted, they’d like to attend GW.

I just got out of a lunch for students admitted to the university honors program (UD teaches university honors courses). Families were there too, asking questions about the program, some of which UD tried to answer. We were in the City View Room in one of the newer buildings on campus, and after the lunch UD went out to its balcony to see about that city view.

Quite wonderful – the shining river, monuments galore, the grasses and trees of a heavily gardened city. Less thrilling were the squat brown buildings (State Department, etc.) that huddle everywhere and make up most of official Washington. I watched some planes land at National and then went downstairs and walked around.

**********************

Yesterday was mild and sunny – a quintessentially April day in Garrett Park, with the white blossoms popping out on UD‘s dogwood and the hydrangea budding like mad.

For a dead end street in a rather obscure town, the setting was noisy: Our neighbors across the street are selling their house (yours for a million dollars), and they had a large crew duding up the garden; other neighbors were leaf blowing and lawn mowing and playing basketball. Trains occasionally steamed through along the nearby CSX tracks, and large groups of cyclists bombed by.

A cardinal kept shrieking at me. It has built its nest in one of our front bushes, and it wants me to get the hell out of my garden.

UD herself was noiseless: She just stood in her front yard like a dummy, staring up at the clear blue sky and marveling.

The Madness of King Barchi

It’s a mental process we don’t know too much about yet, but we can sometimes see its tragic effects in the jock school’s chief executive. No one wants to depose the doddering old thing, but as the athletic deficits increase, and his or her tendency to give ever more bizarre public statements about them grows, faculty and students begin a popular revolt.

No one can predict the outcome of this volatile situation. At University Diaries, our obligation is simply to report its phases.

Rutgers University, having bled athletics money at a grotesque rate for some years, and now subsisting under a leader determined to hemorrhage yet more, has entered The Era of High Restlessness. Economics professors in particular, having run the numbers, have begun issuing denunciations (“To try to do any sugarcoating of the magnitude of (this) financial loss is just not being honest … We’re No. 1 in financial losses … by a mile, we lose more money than any other university on athletics.”), and the student newspaper, as in this article, routinely confronts the fond foolish old man with the ruins of his hopes and dreams. It cites such things as comparative loss charts and statistics on ranking (“After investing about $250 million [in athletics] across the last decade, the University fell down 12 spots in college rank, declining from No. 58 to No. 70, according to U.S. News and World Report. Rutgers also fell to No. 177 on Forbes magazine’s Best Colleges list, a collection of 650 liberal arts colleges and universities, a spot that gives the College of New Jersey a nine-rank advantage over the Garden State’s flagship state university.”)

President Robert Barchi has not yet started hiding out from the press (that will come), but his interviews have become strange affairs. Amid a nationwide trend of much higher foreign student enrollment, Barchi insists that the increase at Rutgers is because of the worldwide renown of their football games (“The University’s 40 percent increase in admissions applications from international students can be attributed to greater name recognition from Rutgers’ presence in the Big Ten, Barchi said.” — Hubba Hubba Hubei!). Amid a monumental financial disaster, he says, “If we were to not remain in the Big Ten, we would have a monumental financial disaster on our hands.” And though there’s no indication the alumni give a shit one way or another about belonging to the Big Ten, he says, “Administrators also feel the need to satisfy the University’s alumni base, composed of many who are interested in intercollegiate sports.”

What’s next? After the Era of High Restlessness, we can expect – as I suggest above – the Era of Not Available for Comment.

UD’s friends Sarah and Peter are just back from…

… a trip to Italy that featured a visit to La Rondinaia, Gore Vidal’s famous house above the Amalfi Coast. The library, they said (scroll down to the second picture), is dominated by books by Vidal’s favorite author.

They posed the question to UD: Who do you think that was?

When UD instantly answered Gore Vidal, they were impressed.

“This assault is a worst-case scenario, but women being assaulted at spring-break destinations and other large gatherings for partygoers isn’t uncommon or new. At the events I’ve been to or, better, used to go to—note the past tense—I always felt that there was an undercurrent of sexual violence, an assault waiting to happen.”

Lots of stupid commentary has been generated by the events at Panama City Beach. This is the first smart opinion piece UD has read.

“An astounding 61 percent of millennials rated the NFL as a sleazy organization on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being respectable and 10 being sleazy.”

[R]esearch has shown that NFL trust has slipped to a point where the league is comparable to brands such as Malaysia Airlines and Wal-Mart.

No need to worry, universities! I’m sure none of this holds true for college football.

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