Longtime readers know that every Christmas Les UDs go to Cambridge, Massachusetts…

…to be with family. This year, rather than stay with family or at a hotel (Les UDs have a house in Cambridge, but they rent it out), we’ll stay at a friend’s house on Professors’ Row, a line of beautiful places steps from Harvard.

The term Professors’ Row, Boston Curbed writes, “is used now only with the bitterest of irony, given the costs of housing near Harvard and the pay of most Harvard faculty.” Which is to say that even, for instance, a $400,000 a year salary probably isn’t enough. You have to be edging up toward hedge fund territory.

No wonder Sheriff Ben Edelman sets his consulting fee so high.

UD will of course blog from these privileged precincts. She has been stomping around Harvard for decades (ever since she and Mr UD, a Harvard professor’s son, became an item) and she has blogged, a bit, about her impressions of Cambridge and its university people. She will now do so again.

‘“I don’t give a (expletive) where his name is,” Powers said.’

It has always been this blog’s privilege to highlight notable events at our nation’s front porch, university football. The Cal Poly scoreboard conundrum is quintessentially one such event, combining the glories of game day with ponzi schemes, claw back, money-hemorrhaging litigation, and institutional embarrassment.

A big ol’ Cal Poly booster, Al Moriarty, spent $650,000 of a bunch of suckers’ money (investors included professors at the school) to get his name plastered all over the school’s scoreboard. Now that big Al’s in jail for the kind of massive fraud you can only perpetrate if you were a hall of famer and everybody thinks you’re Jesus Christ reincarnate, Cal Poly desperately wants MORIARTY ENTERPRISES off the effing scoreboard pronto.

Well but hold on. The trustee in charge of getting some money back for the suckers says Cal Poly should pay him to take it off. And a judge agrees!

Cal Poly cannot cover or remove convicted felon Al Moriarty’s name from the scoreboard at its football stadium, a bankruptcy judge ruled Friday.

… The trustee has argued that since Moriarty used investor money to pay for the scoreboard, those investors are entitled to get that money back.

And, see, if you let Cal Poly cover up the name, it won’t have any incentive to cough up the cash.  Plus seven percent interest.

EXTORTION! screams Cal Poly.

Oh shush, says the trustee.  Pay up and shut up.

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

Details of the original agreement are fun to read. In exchange for handing his dupes’ money over to Cal Poly, Moriarty got not merely the scoreboard thing, but a guaranteed “feature on Moriarty in Cal Poly’s alumni magazine.” Talk about editorial independence! But UD is sure you don’t see that sort of money whoring at other schools.

The University of Hawaii Goes Off the Rails.

“Hawaii athletics is important to the university but it is essentially important to the Hawaii community itself,” Bley-Vroman said. “The university doesn’t itself have a solution. I think that’s important to make that clear. Athletics really is a state-level problem. Not problem, opportunity. It’s a cool thing. We like it.”

Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman babbles in front of a legislative committee, whatever capacity for rational speech he once had totally broken down by the bedlam of his university sports program. Essentially reduced to a few crazed administrators staging pretend Stevie Wonder concerts in a desperate bid to get someone to sit in their stadium, University of Hawaii athletics has lost all dignity. It has lost all capacity to do that thing most other fucked up athletic programs do: lie.

Most other programs can still keep going the lies about ticket sales, sources of revenue, players’ academic progress, etc., etc. But Hawaii can’t even do that. Hawaii’s a madman muttering to the world about its cool games, so important to Hawaii that no one attends them…

I mean, okay, right, sure, no one attends them! That’s why we’re always millions and millions in deficit and why it’s not a cool thing but a problem!

But not OUR problem. Oh no. You did it. The state did it. You have to solve it because we can’t because we don’t have any money and you have money and you have to give us the money. And we promise if you do that you’ll see an immediate turnaround and all the people who don’t give a damn about our stupid corrupt program will pour onto the field!

Sweating in his flower shirt, the university chancellor breaks down in front of the Higher Education Committee. It has come to this.

“U. of Michigan Said To Offer Harbaugh Nearly 10 Times Its President’s Salary To Coach Football Team”

Says it all.

“I don’t understand why the board doesn’t hold [Joel] accountable and fire him.”

So, let’s go there. Let’s pose the question that anyone with even a smidgeon of information about Yeshiva University over the last few years has posed: Why does that university’s grossly incompetent, buck-passing president retain his job?

UD suggests that the answer to the question lies within the question as posed up there in her headline. The board. Why doesn’t the board of trustees at Yeshiva University fire its president?

Well, let’s consider a few present and past board members of that institution. Zygi Wilf, a very powerful board member (an entire campus of YU bears his last name), was a few months ago convicted of “fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.” Ezra Merkin, Bernie Madoff’s right hand man, has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud suits, and there are tons more fraud suits pending against him. Bernie Madoff himself of course was treasurer of Yeshiva’s board of trustees, plus he chaired the board of Yeshiva’s Sy Syms School of Business. Until recently, conflict of interest was rife on Yeshiva’s BOT.

UD wonders. Maybe Joel doesn’t go because he knows too much. About the board of trustees. Maybe there’s more where that other stuff came from.

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

One more thing: UD suspects the I could puke factor is also increasingly at play at Yeshiva. Whether in terms of alumni gifts or enrollment, I have to assume that part of Yeshiva’s financial catastrophe involves larger and larger numbers of people just saying Look – the sex scandals, the money scandals, the conflicts of interest, the lying, the criminals on the BOT… All in the context of Yeshiva’s piously self-righteous self-representation… Yick. It’s just too much. Forget it.

Youngstown is Cuntstown!

Bo Pelini is headed our way! We got ‘im!

WOW.

JUST WOWWWWW.

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

All hail to thee O Cuntstown,
Our Alma Mater fair;
In sunlight and starshine
We see thee in all thy glory…

“Plagiarism within a university and a higher education system reflect[s] poorly on Nevada, which is desperately trying to improve its reputation on many fronts, including education.”

Of course this local columnist is right that the state of Nevada has a jaw-droppingly bad ed rep; but she errs in assuming even a non-desperate effort to change this.

UD has for years followed the states of New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada (UD‘s Big Four) as they run their primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools into the ground.

Not one of these states seems to know how to run schools, much less care about running them.

Nevada in particular – entertainment capital of the world – is all about building The World’s Largest 800 Million Dollar University Football Stadium and stuff like that. It’s clear the state doesn’t even know what universities are. Or – again – care. The center of its world is Las Vegas.

Las Vegas. Nevada’s tax base relies on drawing stupid people to the state, and it’s done a bang-up job. State leaders understand there’s, uh, negative utility in drawing smart people.

So who can be surprised that no one there knows what plagiarism is, much less knows that you shouldn’t do it? The same local columnist expresses amazement that the University of Nevada Las Vegas for years housed a high-profile professor who has been loudly called out as a plagiarist since “his 1990 doctoral dissertation at [the] University of Toronto.” She seems surprised that UNLV seemed disinclined to do anything about this guy until the Chronicle of Higher Ed did a big story about him. A commenter at Retraction Watch notes:

UNLV management were probably too busy hushing up scandals with the basketball team to worry about something as trivial as plagiarism on a massive scale…

The columnist seems just as surprised that the Nevada System of Higher Education “copied large sections of [a Brookings Institution] draft report and submitted it to legislators as NSHE’s own proposal.” Why not?

If you let them steal from the state long enough…

… they’ll end up ordering groceries.

The much-lauded founder and head of Henderson State University’s ESL program has been helping herself to state grant money for so long that she’s gotten sloppy. Along with buying stuff that one might argue had some connection to language instruction (a vast array of cameras…?), she began using the money for the odd olive oil or steam cleaner shortage in her household. Here’s a list, courtesy of state auditors, of some of what she bought. Let’s try to make sense of it.

Camcorder
Equalizers
Microphones and stands
Camera Lenses
Digital Mixers
Three piece luggage set

Nikon Camera
Vizeo Video monitor
Hitachi projector
Beats by Dre headphones
Two containers of olive oil
Shark portable steamer

The audit pointed out that these items were stored at the Center Director’s house. The audit also points out the Director’s husband happens to run a multimedia company.

Okay… I’m seeing the olive oil used to, you know, oil the camera equipment… And who hasn’t needed to steam clean her luggage set? … But then there’s the question of the luggage set itself…

To lug all the equipment from the language lab to the director’s house?

But wait. There’s more. Found in the language lab itself were:

635 boxes of paper/binder clips
470 batteries
308 shirts
105 umbrellas
48 pedometers
14 electric pencil sharpeners

Okay, not a problem. Batteries were obviously for the pedometers, and the pedometers… Well, this was probably a result of a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of the director herself. Ped-agogy… ped-ometer… It is possible she was under the apprehension that this machine measured teaching output…

Shirts and umbrellas no problem: For a rainy day (UD is providing these line item justifications free of charge to the director’s legal team, by the way), of which there are tons in Arkansas.

Expenditures?


$990 in stamps, although Center mail is processed through the HSU campus post office
$3,071 for a new oven and dishwasher
$39,475 for ink and toner
$30,100 for snacks
$2,692 for batteries
$42,278 for other office supplies

Okay start with the easy stuff. What modern housewife doesn’t need an oven and dishwasher at her place of work? It’s not like cleaning clothes and cooking stops at the ESL door! Are you going to pillory this woman for being as keen on domesticity as she is on having a career?

So let’s finish it out: Stamp collection; universal human need for sustenance; more batteries for the pedometer; you can never have enough ink and toner; and you’ll need to itemize those “other office supplies” before I can respond to them.

University of Georgia: OUR cheating coach deserves every bit as much support as…

… all of our school’s other cheating coaches!

See? This is EXACTLY what UD’s been calling for all these years…

…PLUS it comes with a fantastic photograph!

UD has been saying for years that the burgeoning business of business ethics courses is a joke (details here), and that universities should trash them and just scare their MBA students with guest lecturer/jailbirds — high-flying CEOs still in, or just out of, prison because of their clever lucrative business practices.

Just as football is inherently violent, so a good amount of this country’s way of doing business is inherently illegal, or so achingly close to illegal that… you know…

So one college course with some clueless pontificating non-multi-millionaire at the head of the room isn’t going to change that, kiddies. It’s only going to make it worse.

But a first-rate speaker drawn from the teeming ranks of our MBA internees – someone like Enron’s Andrew Fastow, who smiles and holds up his CFO of the Year trophy in one hand, and his prisoner identification card in the other – is fucking unbeatable. I ain’t saying every jailbound junior in the room is going to be scared straight. I especially make no promises about anyone enrolled at Wharton, a feeder school for the federal pen. What I am saying is that the simple souls on their way to this country’s hedge funds and insider trading units will be, er, unresponsive to discursive thought but hyperreactive to some guy who used to be fuck-you rich and is now fending off rapes in FCI Otisville. Fastow looks the part – graying temples, wry older but wiser face, slim wiry illfed post-prisoner body… And he’s got the gig down — props, pithy cautionary tales that speak right to the cynicism to which his audience clings…

In a rare public lecture, former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow held up his “CFO of the Year” award in one hand, and his federal prison ID card in the other.

“I got both of these for doing the exact same thing,” he said before a crowd of eager [University of New Mexico] business students.

Hear that? Hear that? EAGER. CROWD. Try getting that sort of turnout and enthusiasm for a UNM football game.

Plus Fastow’s funny.

“I think inviting me to talk about business ethics is a bit like inviting Kim Kardashian to talk about chastity,” he said.

Okay, the material’s pretty shitty. But a guy like that… with his personal history and his delivery.. the line’s gonna get a big laugh.

“I thought I was so smart; I thought I was a hero for bending the rules,” Fastow said. “It comes down to individual people making a decision — we always asked ‘is it allowed?’ not ‘is it the right thing to do?’ …

You can always find an attorney to get you the answer you want. You can always find an accountant to get you the answer you want,” Fastow said. “There’s only one gatekeeper — you.”

Unfortunately, you don’t have any sense of individuality; you’ve been trained from day one in your MBA course sequence to work in groups…

I mean, I don’t think, say, even one Fastow-or-better per semester can do much about a culture where people like insider trader extraordinaire Steve Cohen and big-time fraudster Zygi Wilf are university trustees (Wilf’s a trustee of a religious university!). I just think that if our universities are going to do anything about America’s corporate culture (it’s arguable that their MBA programs, at least, shouldn’t bother, because they hopelessly reflect that culture), they’d be much better off booking charismatic cons than pious professors.

Giving both of my final exams back to back today…

… so haven’t been able to post. Will do so this evening.

Limerick.

When pondering Jonathan Burrows
The brow assumes multiple furrows.
Though a big millionaire
He still dodges the fare!
The man should consult some good neuros.

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

UD thanks Dirk.

From Munro Leaf’s House in Garrett Park, Maryland…

xmasferd1

Ferdinand wishes
University Diaries readers
a bullish holiday season.

ALL RISE!

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, she has a series of rules that are clear to everyone. These include: 1) Only she is authorized to set the temperature in conference rooms; 2) Cabinet members all rise when she enters the room; 3) If food is served at a meeting, vice presidents clear her plate; and 4) She is always to be publicly introduced as “The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson.”

The Great and Powerful President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

One of Australia’s worst takes hostage one of Australia’s best.

She has now escaped.

[Elly Chen is an] “absolute high achiever” who had graduated from the University of [New South Wales] less than a month ago with a bachelor of commerce, actuarial science and finance.

She was a prefect in high school where she studied advanced English, Latin and physics and finished with a high ATAR of 99.25. “She is a lovely girl. She was both swimming and tennis captain at the school and now she’s an actuary,” [a friend] said.

Ms Chen, who is fluent in Cantonese as well as English, and also studied Japanese, spent the year as an environmental leader at the university’s Stationery Reuse Centre, where she organised “events to further promote environmental sustainability on campus”…

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