Tie One On Land

“She might have thought it was ordinary practice, judging from what I heard, that some lecturers at other places also exchange grades for some beer,” Mr Nopporn said.

I GUESS a lot of employee theft still goes on at universities…

… but in a world of cameras and tracking software, one does kind of wonder. As in the most recent high-profile … er, sign of the times, it’s just too easy to mount a camera. Cameras have caught students and professors hate-criming themselves; they’ve caught professors hauling all manner of university-owned high-tech equipment out of their offices… In the just-reported case of a University of New Orleans employee, tracking technology located a computer in his house, and then in a subsequent police search all sorts of other university goodies turned up there. Apparently the guy had just been laid off, and he decided to give himself the contents of his office as a going-away present.

Actually, this one was a two-fer: tracking and cameras.

Police said surveillance video captured [Walter] Brannon asking a custodian, who was not aware the man was no longer a UNO employee, to unlock his former office.

Brannon was able to remove two “large storage containers” before his presence was noticed, at which time he took a third storage container to his car, NOPD said.

After putting the third container in his car, police allege, Brannon told a UNO officer that he wanted to file a police report about property stolen from his office.

The property included two laptop computers, a cellphone, two tablets and a projector, police said.

Brannon refused to let another university police officer search the containers in his car for the missing property, saying he was “late for an appointment,” according to police.

When the latest technology collides with dawn-of-homo-sapiens intelligence, the results are not pretty.

In the glorious tradition of his city’s namesake…

… the president of the University of Louisville (and yes, Louisville is named after that king of France), leads his university into ruin even as he revels in luxury.

[James Ramsey's bonus is] equal to 25 percent of his current $624,000 annual salary.

The bonus, which equals nearly $156,000, comes as a reward for reaching “all but two” goals that were set for the President’s office, according to the statement.

What those goals were is unclear. A University spokesman declined to comment on the issue.

… [W]ith his annual salary, added performance bonus and the retention bonus that applies to the current year, Ramsey is set to make $1,280,000 this year.

It’s good to be the king! The peasantry needn’t know what those elusive “goals” were… Though they might be excused for wondering why the leader of one of America’s most dysfunctional universities on every level (finances, athletics, graduation rates, internal corruption, even a trustee who recently tried to jump ship but was forced to remain on board by the governor’s refusal to accept his resignation) is being showered with gold because he met all but two of I guess many goals… Wonder what the two goals he failed to meet were… Preside over a university that doesn’t embarrass everyone associated with it? Respond to any request from the media?

It’s all very reminiscent of Yeshiva University’s president. The lower YU’s credit rating falls, and the more he refuses to talk to anyone about what’s going on there, the more he gets paid.

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You wouldn’t think all of this would be a viable model for a university presidency, but there you go. It is.

Meth…

uselah.

Central Michigan University: America’s #1 Most Desolate Campus.

Desolation is too abstract. UD realizes this. UD realizes that outside of this blog you are never going to encounter a list of America’s most and least desolate universities. You will find Best Dorms, Worst Faculty – that sort of thing. But desolation… an atmosphere of sorrow and lostness… an air of wreckage and ruination…

After covering CMU for years (here are her CMU posts), and taking into account the latest news story out of that campus, UD has concluded that nowhere else among this country’s many colleges and universities are you going to find the intensity of drunken depressed spiritlessness that you will at CMU.

I mean, what part of this account of a CMU environmental studies professor who shot at two vacuum cleaner salesmen is not desolate and desolating? It’s pretty sad to contemplate being traveling vacuum salesmen making cold calls. It’s also sad to contemplate their ringing the bell at a home inhabited by an inebriated (the professor’s five charges include possession of a firearm while under the influence) professor waiting to empty his shotgun into whoever appears on his property.

This story is Desolate Meets Desolate, and the outcome of their meeting displays the seriocomic Surreal America theme of every Thomas Pynchon novel you’ve ever read. Booze, gunplay, farce, desperate escapes in trucks crammed with vacuum cleaners… This is CMU.

Argentina: The Thinking Wars

Philosopher Ricardo Forster, a member of the pro-Kirchnerite organization Carta Abierta, has been appointed as Secretary of the Strategic Coordination for the National Thinking office, managed by the recently created Culture Ministry.

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“The post looks like that of the Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness in Venezuela,” [said a member of the opposition], alluding to the Deputy Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness created by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro last year.

Fifth most powerful woman in the world.

But not good enough for Smith College’s commencement. Oh no. Not pure enough. You wouldn’t want a powerful woman, would you? Powerful women have power, and power is nasty. Power is just really icky.

“She didn’t want to see or hear our disagreement, so she decided not to join the party. Her choice. She has access to muffled rooms that silence our analysis on a daily basis and has chosen not to leave them.”

True, when Brown University students (and others) called foul on Ruth Simmons’ activities on the board of Goldman Sachs (under her watch, “the company which invented the $68.5 million CEO bonus”) she totally refused to engage her critics. As the writer I quote in my headline suggests, she’s used to the muffled rooms of America’s top corporate suites; why should she descend from those to the larger democratic community of dissent?

… Oh, whoops. The writer is referring not to Ruth Simmons, who to this day has said nothing about the Blankfein Bonuses she rubber-stamped, but to muffled, fearful Christine Lagarde, a dame who’s got absolutely nothing to say. Go to YouTube and search her name. Nothing.

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Now that Christine Lagarde has decided that Smith College is too silly for words, quite a number of faculty are expressing their embarrassment.

My prior post about the curious business of choosing a capitalist tool (Smith has chosen to replace Lagarde with “snowed by Lloyd” Simmons) over one of the world’s most powerful and admired women is here.

More on Smith and Lagarde.

[See this post for background.]

Smith College graduates will be deprived of the thoughts of Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund. She withdrew this week, under pressure from people who object to the I.M.F.’s role in the “strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems.” So, one of the world’s most powerful women will not share insights with one of the nation’s most prominent women’s colleges because of a concern about patriarchy. Evil men — that’ll show ’em.

Instead of Lagarde, the intrepid people at Smith will get arguably the most parochial speaker available: An ex-president of their own school. As for her advice on resisting patriarchy: Be Lloyd Blankfein’s toady…?

Con…

State U.

“Ruth J. Simmons, a former president of Smith and of Brown University, will take Ms. Lagarde’s place as the speaker.”

Instead of the evil head of the IMF (Christine Lagarde is also “the first woman to lead a global law firm, [and the first] to be the finance minister of a major industrial country.” She is, as well, a top candidate for head of the European Commission and is talked about as a viable candidate for president of France.), Smith College will get as its commencement speaker the woman who, as a member of the Goldman Sachs “scandal-prone” board, approved Lloyd Blankfein’s notorious multimillion dollar bonuses. (“There’s no indication in [a recent Simmons] interview that Simmons takes her fiduciary responsibilities to Goldman’s shareholders particularly seriously,” wrote Felix Salmon of Simmons’ embarrassing, “snowed by Lloyd,” tenure.) They will get the woman who was rewarded for that approval by getting paid

$323,539 [in 2009] for her work on the [Goldman Sachs] board… [She] will soon leave her position at Goldman with stock that is currently worth about $4.3 million. That was on top of her salary at Brown, which was $576,000 [in 2010].

Yes, the protest against Christine Lagarde has worked! The witch is dead; three cheers for Dorothy.

“Who would call an investment bank based in Bethlehem ‘Jesus Ltd’? Who would dedicate a shooting range in Delhi to Gandhi?”

And who would name a luxury hotel Hotel Gramsci?

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Well, but there is a bank called Institute for the Works of Religion, and another one called Banco Espírito Santo… There’s a Stalin hotel… (Watch a breezy all-American take on Uncle Joe here.)

There’s something about the state of Alaska that seems to encourage misbehavior…

… on the part of high-ranking university officials. And university priests.

There was the plagiarizing dean at one of the U Alaska campuses. One of his jobs was handling student plagiarism cases. No investigation was ever done. He just, uh, left.

Now there’s the naughty University of Alaska Fairbanks Catholic priest. Father Thomson, stopped by police while speeding his drug-laden, weapons-packed pickup around town, hit the trifecta… No, the quadfecta:

DUI, refusal to take to a chemical alcohol test, drugs misconduct and two counts of weapons misconduct for both possessing a firearm while intoxicated and failing to immediately inform troopers he was carrying a firearm.

Hold on.

No, that’s the cinquefecta.

Splenetic in the Grass

Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan resigned Saturday after just seven months in the job.

Authorities are investigating a claim that Flanagan hit a former campus employee during an argument…

The complaint against Flanagan accuses him of assaulting a former employee while complaining about the care of the lawn at the university-owned president’s residence.

Then-superintendent of grounds R. Patrick Murphy claimed that Flanagan’s saliva hit him in the face, that Flanagan’s arm hit his torso and that Flanagan yelled at him on Dec. 5 outside the home, according to a police report.

Murphy told police he was supervising a crew working on the lawn when Flanagan ran out of the house and complained about the work.

“According to a March 2012 police report, [David] Dismukes crashed his car into the car of a process server who said Dismukes was attempting to avoid being served a subpoena in connection with his 2012 study.”

Whoa. What? A university professor is being served a subpoena because of his research, and he rams the server’s car?

Let’s try and unpack this…

Back in ’12 you find this article, in which an economist dumps all over a paper Dismukes (a director of Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies) wrote. The paper purports to demonstrate that so-called legacy lawsuits, where individuals sue oil companies for damage they may have done to their land, cost citizens of Louisiana “30,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in wages over the past eight years.” The paper is waved all over the state by the oil companies as they seek to make it more difficult for people to file these sorts of lawsuits.

Testifying in front of the state legislature on the question of amending filing procedures, the economist, W. Ed Whitelaw, said:

[T]he analysis omits a relevant variable. Dismukes included data from 2005 and 2006, when the Louisiana energy industry was battered by two hurricanes, and stops his analysis in 2007.

“He fails to mention Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita anywhere in the report,” Whitelaw said.

“In our opinion, the Dismukes document fails to meet … professional standards. And this failure matters to the degree that the Dismukes document is fatally flawed, both theoretically and empirically. Nowhere does Dr. Dismukes present a coherent economic model linking legacy lawsuits and decisions to drill in Louisiana.”

Ah c’mon. Just a couple itty bitty hurricanes…

And turns out not only do the oil people really like this study; it’s their study.

Dismukes’ emails, obtained through a public records request by the state and the Vermilion Parish School Board, show a study he authored in 2012 used data given to him by Exxon Mobil, distorted facts to support his thesis and purposely concealed oil companies’ involvement in his research… The emails show the involvement of the Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corporation in Dismukes’ research, and he said in an email given to The Daily Reveille that he was under pressure to produce the report. In another email, he said he wasn’t sure how he would “fess-up” to where some of the information used in his study came from because it was provided by an oil company.

If the server comes at Dismukes again, will he ram again? Stay tuned.

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