Auburn University Crash Lands a New President…

… and University Diaries can’t wait for what’s next.

UD‘s posts on Auburn, one of America’s most scummy sports factories, are here.

“The university not only informed the students of the new policy, but their guardians as well.”

Grabbing the guarded by the short hairs: Higher ed in Saudi Arabia.

White Noise at Texas A&M

After white nationalist Richard Spencer did his thing at Texas A&M awhile back, the university changed its policies so that now all approved speakers need sponsorship by a campus organization.

An official campus spokesperson explains:

As one of the stewards for protecting and enhancing the brand, this is particularly troubling to me as the influx of these outside groups may connote to your viewers [she’s talking to CNN] an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are actually our students or faculty.

This is an official spokesperson. This is a person who gets a salary to talk like this.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Let’s scathe.

These words usher us into the depths of the deepest forest. To follow this sentence is to follow Hansel and Gretel as they stray farther and farther from any known world, into an enigmatic and malign witchery. It is to search hopelessly, desperately, for a referent, a subject, a predicate… to scratch your head and say steward for? Isn’t it steward of? When she uses the word “brand,” does she mean university? Does she mean reputation?

When you get to “this” (‘this is particularly troubling’), it is to ask What is this? To what does it refer?

And influx? I wasn’t worried about massive numbers of neonazis pouring into Texas A&M until I got to influx.

And why the constipated connote when she means express or signal?

By the time we’re into the completely nutty windup (‘an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are…’) we may be too addled to realize that the spokesperson’s final statement is overwhelmingly likely to be untrue. Surely some Texas A&M students – maybe even some faculty – have white nationalist sentiments. Did Spencer speak to an empty room? Were no members of his audience affiliated with the … brand?

Speak simply and directly, darlings.

———
UD thanks John.

‘Overall enrollment is down 25 percent, and undergraduate enrollment is down 32 percent in one year, the largest decline of any public university in the state. The 86 freshmen includes both full-time and part-time students — smaller than a kindergarten cohort at many Chicago Public Schools.’

For twenty years, the state of Illinois has been on the verge of doing something drastic about Chicago State University. Through seven million CSU presidents, fourteen million embezzlement scandals, twenty million expensive whistle blower lawsuits, and thirty-seven trillion misappropriations of taxpayer-provided funds, CSU has kept on keeping on. And now comes its most amazing accomplishment: The reduction of a university to a Samuel Beckett play.

Go to its campus and see the windy nothingness of Waiting for Godot. No one is there. Occasional buildings rot among the weeds.

Wait a few moments and onto the stage wander Vladimir and Estragon, two trustees who for the last decade have been sniping at each other about what’s best for the school. Listen in on their endless irritable exchange, an exercise in hilarious self-delusion about the Endgame their project has become.

Chicago State University poses the question: Can a university exist without students?

And the answer is: Actually, yes.

As long as the people of Illinois are willing to continue subsidizing a university run solely for the faculty and administration – ultimately of course run solely for the administration, because someone has to do the job of eliminating all of the faculty positions – there’s no reason why CSU can’t go on forever. Or at least for a very long time. The trick will be to eliminate faculty positions… very… slowly… In order to justify the continued existence of the administration. When you run out of faculty, simply hire more faculty – you need an administration to do that – and then gradually eliminate that faculty.

Rinse. Repeat.

A Reclaimed Poem Reclaims Westminster Bridge.

Colin Bancroft is the author.

The original.

“[P]ossibly the most serious criminal conviction of a college leader in American history.”

Whether your campus administrators are protecting coaches at Penn State or professors at Berkeley or athletes at Baylor…

… Seems as though there’s eventually an awfully high price to pay.

Compare McGill’s hysteria over…

this (hysteria here) to Harvard’s reaction to this.

Limerick.

Berkeley’s Center for Social Ontology
Specializes in Dad/Babe pornology
Its director John Searle
Is in search of a girl
To help him explore his pathology

Date with Destin…

… for three clever University of Alabama students.

“Prosecutors say [University of Minnesota Professor Edward] Adams was able to “prevent investors from discovering that he had stolen millions… all while lining his pockets with additional money from new investors.”

Wouldn’t you like to know how to do that?

Why should UM fire a tenured professor who’s got so much to share about high finance techniques?

A spokesperson for the university

could not provide details about what the school policy is on faculty members who face criminal charges [apparently that stuff in the headline is, like, illegal].

So UM is all of a mucksweat. What to do? What to do? Wait until after his [HUGELY EMBARRASSING NATIONAL PUBLICITY] trial? I mean, chances are the guy is totally innocent, this is all a bad dream, and he’ll be back in a flash, his gravitas intact, sharing with his charges the ins and outs of investing…

Explosion Alley

Last week, for the second time in not that many years, my husband and I were jolted from our beds late at night by an explosion. What was that? What happened? we said to one another as we threw on clothes, grabbed flashlights, and examined our roof for the enormous tree we figured broke away from the earth after days of snow and wind and landed on top of us.

But all of the limbs that have long lurked near our house – we live in Garrett Park, Maryland, an arboretum full of big old trees, some of them menacingly close to residents’ homes – remained neatly poised above the roof. As we scanned our front and back lawn for other tree falls, our neighbors emerged into the night: What happened? Did you hear that? What was that?

Sirens came from everywhere – it had been about a minute since something blew – and we heard them congregating in precisely the same place they’d congregated before: a neighborhood of small architecturally uniform brick homes called Randolph Hills, just across a gully and some train tracks from Garrett Park. My husband and I live not far from the tracks, so the explosion was very close to us – right on the other side of the divide.

***********

My day job is lecturing on modernist writers, and I happened, on the morning after the second Randolph Hills house explosion, to be teaching Kafka’s great short story, “The Metamorphosis.”

“Metamorphosis” is easy to admire and hard to teach, and my class prep that day had me looking for critics who had something interesting to say about that pedagogical mix. Part of the problem, the writer David Foster Wallace suggested, was the extent to which Kafka’s stories rely on “what communication-theorists sometimes call ‘exformation,’ which is a certain quantity of vital information removed from but evoked by a communication in such a way as to cause a kind of explosion of associative connections within the recipient.”

It seemed to me that the first Randolph Hills explosion was not Kafkaesque, because it turned out to be a couple of people meddling inexpertly with their gas lines (which, to be heartless about it, puts it closer to Three Stooges farce than the complex tragicomedy of Kafka), whereas this latest boom, as its facts came out, did have the feel of something explosively associative, full of human information whose power lay in the fact of that information’s absence from the scene.

For the shattered male body and canine body found in the rubble both had bullets in them; the owner of the house had killed his dog and then himself; and then somehow the house exploded around them. Gas to the house had been cut off years ago for non-payment, but apparently the man had figured out a way to keep using it illegally… The very day of his suicide, his house was going up for auction… Did he fill the house with gas, toss a lit match, and then shoot?…

Now, this zealous speculation and information-mongering, in which I and many of my neighbors have been engaged, does have the feel of the Kafkaesque. We are staring at an evocative hole and trying to fill it up.

In one of his tortured letters to his friend Max Brod, Kafka wrote about his impending death as the collapse of the “house” of his being:

What right have I to be shocked [by my demise], I who was not at home, when the house suddenly collapses: for do I know what preceded the collapse, didn’t I wander off, abandoning the house to all the powers of evil?

Maybe what we who follow this post-explosion story so closely find so evocative is the vital information which that emptiness that used to be a house conveys about the difficulty all of us have being “at home” in our lives, inhabiting our lives meaningfully so that we feel alive and not dead. Franz Kafka sensed he was always already dead, unable to muster sufficient whatever – faith, energy, love, ambition, desire, curiosity – to negotiate existence. Perhaps we sense, as we try hard to walk back – to narrate – the events behind the Randolph Hills explosion, associative connections that can lead us to vital information of the sort Kafka’s great stories are trying to share.

“Vei, vei! It gets more corrupt.”

As big-city lawyer Simkin says in Herzog… But OTOH, if it didn’t get more corrupt, Saul Bellow couldn’t have written hilarious scenes like this one with Simkin… And our own wee UD wouldn’t be able to feature on her blog major machers (to keep the Yiddish thing going) like the Howard E. Buhse Professor of Finance and Law at the University of Minnesota. This guy was a dean; he got an award in counseling

While holding down a demanding job as a law prof, Edward Adams was running multiple personal businesses, and he was doing some pretty amazing counseling there too. After allegedly embezzling lots of his investors’ money (the FBI describes the “brazen theft of millions of dollars of investors’ funds over the course of several years”), he started to worry that the “theft [would be] uncovered through bankruptcy litigation.” So he

convinced shareholders to convert their worthless Apollo stock into stock in a new company — Scio Diamond Technology Corp. — that [Edward] Adams secretly controlled…

These have got to be the stupidest investors since Bernie Madoff’s lemmings.

Adams is busier than ever. I guess he’s still running a bunch of businesses. He’s still a bigshot law professor at Minnesota. He’s suing the local paper for defamation because of all the mean things they’re saying about him. And he needs to get his best suit dry cleaned for his first court appearance next week. UD hopes UM has a very long Faculty Annual Report form.

Here are more details, including a yummy statement from the university insisting that the guy’s activities are “fully outside” of his university role — moral turpitude not, I guess, being a UM thing.

In the 1930’s, my father and his family lived, for awhile, in Berlin, Maryland…

… which is now one of America’s Coolest Small Towns. They must have lived there because of its proximity to Ocean City, where the Rapoport family (Joseph Rapoport was my father’s father) had a boardwalk amusement store (scroll down for news of it burning down in suspicious circumstances in 1954).

Les UDs stopped at Berlin for lunch on their way back from Assateague on Monday, eating at this diner, which turns out to be famous because it was featured (along with the rest of the town) in Runaway Bride.

The Atlantic Hotel (1895) dominates the town and has sitting rooms like this.

Sunset. Just now. From our hotel balcony.

Mr UD, Still Smiling, As We Pause on Our…

Wild Life Trail hike
on Assateague Island.

An amazing, bird-filled walk,
during most of which we had
the whole place to ourselves.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories

Bookmarks

UD REVIEWED

It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.
AcademicPub

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.
Dagblog

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte