This summer, Mr UD goes to Ukraine.

Western Ukraine, so don’t worry too much, to hold a civic studies summer institute.

Also on the subject of Ukraine: The country’s got its first university in exile. Most of Donetsk University has cleared out of the separatist east and moved to Vinnytsia, where students and faculty are waiting for the government to transfer the budget so they can eat. Their situation sounds rather dire.

‘The brothel attempted to conceal its activities by functioning under the guise of a “foot massage department.”‘

I think that was its mistake right there. The name gave too much away. Better choice: Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

A Polish Literary Scandal with EVERYTHING.

Sex (heterosexual and homosexual). Money (unpaid debts). Corruption (a writer nominated for a prize is apparently living with the secretary of the prize’s selection committee). Increasingly unhinged emails between the two combatants.

The ongoing story of Kinga Dunin (well-known literary journalist and Medical University of Warsaw professor) and Ignacy Karpowicz (hot young – significantly younger than Dunin – novelist) hasn’t jumped to to the English language press yet.

Basic narrative, however, is this: Dunin suddenly posted on her Facebook page a complaint that Karpowicz hadn’t repaid the $4,000 loan she’d given him; she wrote that maybe by publicizing the matter she could shame him into it.

Karpowicz responded that for some time Dunin had been allowing him to use her apartment when he was in Warsaw, and recently when she was also in the apartment she invited him to share her bed. Not wanting to make her angry, he writes, he agreed to do so. (He’s either a liar or a fool.) Eventually he fell in love with someone else and broke off the relationship with Dunin. He claims that on their last night together in her apartment, when he told her he was leaving her, she raped him.

Dunin then came back with the claim that Karpowicz threw her over for a man – a man who happens to be the secretary of the selection committee for a literary prize Karpowicz is up for.

It seems likely to UD that the story has enough intrinsic interest to show up, soon, in the New York Times. We’ll see.

Gory details here, if you happen to be fluent in Polish.

Vindictive celebrity tell-all books…

… are one of life’s great comforts, a way for millions of readers to feel reconciled to their own, more obscure, resentments. France has Valerie Trierweiler, England had Diana Spencer… and Canada currently has a former university leader, Arthur Porter, playing this important social role…

Arthur Porter? You remember. Once head of the entire McGill University hospital system, Porter will go on trial (as soon as he loses his extradition fight) for having stolen zillions of dollars from said university (massive construction project; kickbacks). He has spent his prison time in Panama profitably, penning The Man Behind the Bow Tie (Gordon Gee’s going to have to find another title for his tell-all), an attack on the cynical mercenary world which has consistently misconstrued his idealism.

UD‘s keeping an eye on Porter because she is beyond excited at the prospect of his trial, and she is truly, well, resentful that his lawyers keep unextraditing him. But…

All in good time, my little pretty — all in good time….

Venezuela and the Sacking of the Universities

Back in 2011, this blog chronicled only their attempted ideological takeover by the state.

Today, street gangs are taking over university hospitals and killing people in them.

Next week’s guest …

lecturer: Lee Joon-seok.

“Prosecutors say the data were ascertained to have been altered in many cases. We cannot help but wonder why the medical doctors at the universities were unaware of what happened. Laboratories of those universities have so far received more than ¥1.1 billion in research funding from Novartis Pharma. The possibility is high that the back-scratching relations between universities, who are eager to obtain cash from businesses, and Novartis, out to exploit research results to promote its drug sales, may have formed a hotbed of wrongdoing.”

The Japanese have actually arrested someone in the Novartis scandal (background here). Color UD shocked. Color her shocked beyond recovery if the guy actually goes to jail for more than a day or two.

Novartis embedded one of its employees – made him a staff scientist – in five Japanese university laboratories. Five.

As a Novartis Pharma employee [Nobuo] Shirahashi took charge of analyzing data from clinical tests comparing Diovan and other blood pressure-lowing drugs at five Japanese universities … between 2002 and 2004.

How did that happen? How did a Diovan pusher get accepted – hired? – into five university labs in Japan and then take charge of clinical results?

That’s the ¥1.1 billion question, ain’t it?

‘Controversies have swirled for years around Megatrend, which offers degrees in everything from media to economics and has campuses across Serbia. When Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the late Libyan leader, was granted an honorary doctorate in 2007, Srbijanka Turajlic — the then deputy minister for higher education — was quoted as saying, “This is not something this university should be proud of.” But considering “the quality of the university,” she added, “it is not surprising that it awarded a doctorate to a dictator.” ‘

Serbia’s Interior Minister, a Megatrend grad, is accused of having plagiarized his doctorate.

So what. Academic plagiarism’s endemic in much of the world. Let’s not get too excited about brave little Serbia’s borrowings.

Let us instead extract what pleasure we can from their new megatrendy university that – taking a page from Benjamin Barber’s book – celebrates dictators.

‘Mikhail Lotman, an Italian scholar of Russian origin, wrote in a public letter that awarding an honorary fellowship to [Vladimir] Medinsky is like “awarding Mr. Berlusconi for his contribution to the education of female minors.”’

Putin’s culture hack gets a big prize from an Italian university, reports Maria Lipman in The New Republic. So much disgust ensues that the vice rector responsible for granting the prize has resigned.

“… [T]he [McGill University Hospital Centre] not only topped up Porter’s $241,000 salary in 2010 with a $63,000 stipend to ensure his ‘increased availability,’ the board of directors also agreed to upgrade his company car from a Mercedes to a Bentley. This came on top of taxpayer-funded memberships in exclusive clubs, a $500,000 low-interest loan and extra pay for research and teaching that Porter may never have actually earned.”

UD‘s not ashamed to say that she has missed Arthur Porter, and that she is therefore mucho excited as Canada enters another round of Portermania. Porter was the much-loved, much-gifted CEO of McGill University’s hospital, until it turned out that he’d rigged a bid on a new facility in order to arrange an 11.25 million dollar kickback for himself. The Bentley just wasn’t cutting it for Arthur Porter, a man responsible for “perhaps the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in Canada.”

UD‘s only regret is that he’s Arthur rather than Joseph Porter; if he were [Sir] Joseph Porter, she could write a whole version of When I Was A Lad for him (sample line: But when the breezes blow, I generally go to Panama.)

But really, beyond that, UD has no complaint at all. The yummy revelations of spectacular greed and corruption at McGill University and environs will keep coming and the whole thing will be far more interesting than (yawn) Rob Ford. Personal collapse stories call for our compassion, certainly; but the Arthur Porter story is about the collapse of a university’s board of trustees as well as a region’s legislative body. It’s about how Quebec continues to claim its title as the most corrupt province in Canada.

University-Level Math, Greece.

[T]he Athens Special Affairs Unit carried out an inspection in the Development Grants Account of the National Technical University of Athens and found that during the years 2002-2013, the university submitted false income declarations and as a result it failed to pay 20,796,216 euros in tax returns.

‘”I am afraid, but there are situations in which you have to act, regardless of your own fear,” he told the Russian New Times magazine.’

Andrei Zubov gets fired (no tenure in New Imperial Russia?) for criticizing the motherland’s action in Crimea.

Meanwhile Mr UD (a Pole) is excited about Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s letter to Poland inviting it to join the fun and take whatever part of Ukraine it wants. Mr UD has been rubbing his hands together gleefully. He has taken out maps and put big red lines down the middle of Ukraine. “Here!” he says, and then redraws the line. “No. Here!”

You go girl.

Last September, [three] vice-rectors [at Uppsala University in Sweden] sent a short letter to the Ministry of Education and Research, which had appointed [Eva] Akesson as the first female rector of Uppsala, calling for her removal “due to being unfit for the position”.

They provided no argument in support of the claim, which was subsequently signed by eight of the university’s deans.

… Things did not become clearer when one of the deans, Professor Jan Lindegren of the faculty of the humanities, published a four-page letter in which he tried to explain the conflict and why the 11 vice-rectors and deans had acted against the rector.

He claimed that the collaborative climate in the university had been eroded during her tenure. But he overstated his mission of clarification when, in rather non-academic wording, he reportedly said Akesson was managing the university by “scaring the shit out of many of her employees”.

This blog has covered university protests in Venezuela…

… for some time (background here, here, and here). Here’s an update on continued, increasingly desperate, protests.

The nation’s young people are tired of enduring one of the world’s highest inflation rates, highest murder rates, scarcity of basic staples like toilet paper, and the near certainty that things are going to get worse before they get better. A few days ago, the Associated Press reported on Venezuelans camping on the sidewalk to get information about emigrating to Ireland.

… This week, the streets of Caracas, Maracaibo, and the rest of Venezuela’s largest cities saw large protests that ended in violence. Three people were shot dead, with dozens more wounded. Many eyewitnesses lay the blame for the violence on government-sponsored armed motorcycle gangs, similar to the ones used to suppress pro-democracy protests in Iran in 2009.

… They see a dark future ahead, one in which Venezuela’s slow slide into a Cuban-style autocracy accelerates and is finally realized in its entirety.

Saudi Arabia? No. England. A University in England.

The talk is called “The Effects of Sins” by an external lecturer called Ustadh Abu Ibrahim. He appears to be no firebrand, espousing moderate views that wouldn’t sound out of place in any mosque, church or temple. At the end, he stresses that the women at the back should be allowed to ask questions. “You have to be fair to the sisters,” he tells his audience.

So generous of him. All the way in the back, the sisters… They should be allowed to talk.

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