Michael Graves, a student of Mr UD’s father at the Harvard Graduate School of Design…

… has died.

Instablogging Kipnis.

Hokay, everyone’s talking about the Laura Kipnis essay attacking zero-tolerance faculty/student sexual relations rules at universities, and UD – like Kipnis, a veteran of such affairs – I mean, UD has never had an affair with one of her students… But she long long long ago had affairs with a couple of her professorsUD figures she’ll follow along as Kipnis makes her case and is then megabombed because of having made it.

She adopts what she calls a “slightly mocking tone,” which seems to UD fine, since sex and sexual passion and love are both fraught and hilarious subjects. Kipnis recalls her hippie days when rebellion, experimentation, transgression, whatever, were things a lot of people did. Was there a price to be paid? Yeah, maybe, sometimes, but it

fell under the category of life experience. It’s not that I didn’t make my share of mistakes, or act stupidly and inchoately, but it was embarrassing, not traumatizing.

So far so good. She and I are (echoing Oscar Wilde) on the same page. She points out that the new paradigm casts students in the role of weak vulnerable victims (“According to [her university’s] the code, students are putty in the hands of all-powerful professors.”), whereas the reality of this sort of interaction is in most cases far more complex.

This observation also seems to me (based on my own experience, and the experience of others I’ve known) quite true. Those implementing the new no-go zone codes are absurdly “optimistic,” argues Kipnis, that they can police complex desire.

[W]ill any set of regulations ever prevent affective misunderstandings and erotic crossed signals, compounded by power differentials, compounded further by subjective levels of vulnerability?

Kipnis also says the obvious:

Let no one think I’m soft on harassment.


I also believe that the myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life, because that’s simply part of the human condition.


It’s a long piece and she repeats herself a lot, but she’s a fun writer. This, at the end of the piece, got a rise out of me:

[I]f colleges and universities around the country were in any way serious about policies to prevent sexual assaults, the path is obvious: Don’t ban teacher-student romance, ban fraternities.

(She doesn’t add that the situation is now so bad that more and more universities are in effect banning fraternities. That is, they’re banning this fraternity and that fraternity; they’re telling this fraternity it can’t come back to campus for three years, and that one that it can’t come back for five years… The litigation cost to the national chapters of the most notorious fraternities is getting intolerable, just as the wretched publicity for places like Dartmouth is getting intolerable… So fraternities are shutting down, but very, very slowly.)

Anyway, so here’s UD‘s thing. There’s an inescapable intensity, for some people on some campuses, to the professor/student relationship. This intensity tends to have in it elements of Pygmalion, Oedipus, Electra, blahblahblah. Less mythically, it may sometimes simply and unsurprisingly have to do with finding a person who admires and shares your intellectual, aesthetic, and moral, passions, and falling in love with that person. I say unsurprisingly because where, other than the Yale archeology department and a few other rarified locations, do you expect to find a fellow very specifically passionate archeologist? UD sincerely hopes that soulmates who meet in this way continue to follow their hearts.

Horton Hatches a Scheme

Charles Horton, a computer sciences professor at the University of Alabama, required his students to buy a textbook he’d written, published by a company he owned.

The you have to buy my book so I can make some money bit is as old as the hills, of course; but Horton went one better by owning the publishing company!

You can’t argue with his results: Over many illustrious years of teaching, he made close to four hundred thousand dollars in this way.

However, this is apparently a felony.


… is a bit of a mouthful (though it rather nicely echoes AmeriCorps). It refers to American academia’s enormous, and always growing, corps of adjunct instructors. These non-tenured, often massively underpaid, professors do the heavy lifting at many of our schools, teaching lots of classes with little institutional support.

UD‘s friend Joe Fruscione has, with some colleagues, started PrecariCorps, a foundation that offers temporary financial support to adjuncts.

It reminds UD of her town’s Betsy White Fund, whose quiet good works UD has admired for decades.

Jay Michaelson on Rabbi Professor Freundel

When I lived in Washington, I attended Kesher Israel regularly. It was a thrill to sit behind Senator Joseph Lieberman, Leon Wieseltier and other luminaries of the American Jewish scene. They and many others took pride in articulating a literate, intelligent Modern Orthodox Jewish sensibility – and Freundel was an exemplar of it…

All this time, he was a sex offender, a fraud and a pervert.

… [T]he Freundel scandal looks a lot like the Madoff* scandal. There are questions that should have been asked, suspicions that should have been raised. But the self-reinforcing loops of elite power — X likes him, X is powerful, therefore I should like him — blinded those entrusted to keep watch.

And then there are the nonsexual allegations. One of Freundel’s victims, Bethany Mandel, told The Daily Beast that we’ve gotten Freundel wrong. “People keep calling him a pervert and yes, he’s a pervert, but he’s also a power hungry sociopath,” Mandel said. “It wasn’t about porn. It was about power, and this was additional power no one knew he had.”

This, too, should have been visible in plain view to anyone who worked closely with Freundel.

… It can seem, downing a shot of whiskey with someone of influence, that you are in the presence of greatness. Really, you are only in the presence of power.


* Board Chair, Sy Syms School of Business; Honorary Degree recipient; Treasurer, Board of Trustees — all at Yeshiva University.

Fifty-Two Shades of Freundel.

America’s voyeur-professor-rabbi supreme pleads.

Shabby, Crabby, and Gabby…

… American university professors (except for the genial, dressed for success business school guys) are often, from the point of view of a school’s corporate/trustee leadership, irritants. They file hilarious plagiarism reports against the chancellor. They blog. They get together and ask their university’s leadership why it’s spending all the school’s money on football. (They’re able to run the numbers to prove this because their ranks include really good economists.)

Two things UD has learned, over the years of this blog, about The Professor Problem:

1. Wise schools let their professors rant. No doubt it eats away at the entrails of some administrators that some professors do not behave the way employees in corporate settings behave. Yet it seldom makes sense to target this restive contingent. Doing so, you may not only be forgetting the protections of tenure; you may also be signalling to the free thinkers who will make up some of your best faculty that they’d better choose a less provincial campus for themselves. An administration which goes after irritant professors long enough ends up creating the University of Nebraska.

2. Even wiser schools realize that it’s precisely the areas of universities with which administrators feel a warm affinity – the business school, the engineering school, the medical school, and of course the athletic department – that tend to produce the really serious institutional embarrassments. Irritant professors merely irritate. Genial guys in suits (UD realizes there are exceptions to this rule) tend to be your money and/or research fraudsters, your alcohol- and sex- and violence- and litigation-challenged… It’s the quiet transportation engineer running a couple of businesses on the side to whom administrators ought to be paying attention, not the noisy old hippie making fun of the president.

Plus hey what about…

… that raise?

Because of the misconduct allegations against him, [Rakesh] Kumar has not been able to find another research job. He also alleges that GW denied a “promised” raise to him.

Foul, Free and Merry Was He

[Marco Rubio’s] co-professor, Dario Moreno, is turned out in the raggedy beard and belly of a true academic…

“I …like it because these professors can do whatever the hell they want,” [Rubio] marvels. “They never stick to the syllabus.”


Professor Song

Foul, free and merry was he
Foul was he but and ben
Foul by the banks o’ Earn
And foul in Glenturrit glen

Robert Taub: Another feather in Columbia University’s cap.

I’m thinkin it’s onaccounta it’s in New York City – smack where the money is – but Columbia University sure does have one rootin-tootin, crooked-up-the-wazoo, faculty.

This 2011 post tries to gather up some of that school’s most notorious naughty boys, but CU has outdone itself since then, having most recently splashed itself all over the tabloids with the story of eminent (awed pause here), bow-tied (classy! pause here), mesothelioma researcher (grateful sanctimonious I-don’t-wanna-know-about-the-law-firms pause here) Robert Taub.

Preet Bharara just finished transacting business with Columbia’s Gregory Rorke, and now he’s had to swivel around to the school’s Milstein Family Professor (also about the Milsteins you don’t wanna know). Bharara must have a crimp in his neck.

Columbia even boasts Mehmet Oz. But don’t get me started.

Should you be in a mood, this morning, to feel really icky all over about American politicians…

… just go to this page, and remind yourself that Sheldon Silver won the 2012 William M. Bulger (once president of the University of Massachusetts!) Excellence in State Leadership Award.



Oh goody. There’s a university professor involved. So far unnamed. UD‘s thinking identifying the person ain’t gonna be too hard.

[It is alleged that] Silver directed state research money to a university doctor in Manhattan, and that the doctor referred lucrative asbestos cases to Silver’s firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. The doctor is described as a “well-known expert” who “conducts mesothelioma research” and who had created a center at his university by or before 2002 related to that subject. The doctor, not named in the complaint, “has entered into an agreement with the USAO SDNY [U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York] under which he will not be prosecuted for the conduct described herein, and that obligates him to provide truthful information to and cooperate with the government.”

As for Preet Bharara, without whom this corruption-besotted blog could not function:

[N]othing about Bharara’s pedigree suggested he planned to burn down the New York State Democratic Party [UD is a deep-blue Democrat. She owns a house in New York State. But she’s got no loyalty to that state’s notoriously corrupt political establishment.]… Bharara, with two more years in office, is that particularly dangerous and rare political figure: a federal prosecutor who doesn’t give a fuck.


Oh. Okay. Well that wasn’t any challenge at all. Taub’s name came up immediately in a Google search; but here it is all over the papers.

The state money was provided to Dr. Robert Taub [another Yeshiva University grad] for research by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation — with some of the additional funds going for unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the court papers charges.

Taub, who is affiliated with Columbia University, is cooperating with the FBI, court papers revealed. Silver sponsored a May 2011 “official resolution” by the assembly honoring Taub.


He’s a recipient of the “Collaborator Award,” which has a special ring to it now.

Professor v. Professor

A Utah professor named Cassell
Finds Dershowitz rather a hassle.
‘So you say you’re defamed?
Two can play at that game.
Get set for one hell of a rassle.’

Death in a Tenured Position

Assisted suicide expert and criminology instructor Russel Ogden hasn’t been seen at scandal-plagued Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) since 2008…

Mr. Ogden is … living in the Vancouver area. What’s more, he’s still drawing his KPU salary. The paycheques have never stopped coming, even though the criminologist hasn’t taught a single course at the university in six years.

According to public records, he received $87,910 from KPU in the last fiscal year. For what services, the school administration refuses to say.

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.

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.


$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.

Ben Edelman:

Digging a deeper gravy for himself.

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE