Les UDs have what they always considered a posh neighbor across the street from their Shady Hill Square house in Cambridge. Fifty yards from their ivied walls lies the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a rather vague outfit to both UDs, but one they feel sure does good and high-minded things.

I don’t know why neither of us has ever had any interest in figuring out just what the AAAS does. Talking about it now, we were able to eke out a memory that the AAAS publishes the journal Daedalus, and that our long-ago neighbor and friend John Kenneth Galbraith was a member (we think). I’ve always been pleased that their rather small building in a large park keeps the view in that direction green and leafy…

All very nice, you say. And yet — who knows what evil lurks at Irving and Beacon Streets? A reader sends UD (UD thanks her reader) this scathing article from the Boston Globe, detailing an organization whose leader lied about having earned a doctorate (a lie that continues to help her get federal funds), makes an unconscionable salary (almost $600,000) for the head of a very small non-profit, and “requires workers to chauffeur her between the office and her luxury apartment along the Charles River in Cambridge.” (Back in 2003, the Globe had already taken notice of this woman.)

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

Now if your problem is that you’re perceived as high-handed and out of touch, how do you deal with that?

Well, you instruct one of your underlings to instruct reporters that they are to report to your expensive public relations person who will condescend to say the following:

“Neither the academy nor President Berlowitz is going to respond to subjective, interpretive, and gossipy allegations from former employees and unnamed sources. …Nor are they going to respond to personal questions that are irrelevant, do not belong in the public ­domain and, frankly, smack of sexism.”

Wow! Winner! Touched all the bases there. Advised her not to speak directly to the press. Not even to answer the phone, a job for subordinates. Announced that James Devitt, NYU spokesman who looked at that school’s records in regard to President Berlowitz, is just a mean ol’ stupid ol’ gossip. Plus you’re all sexists!

All UD can say is, next time I see the Berlowitz limo whizzing by I’m gonna let out a Bronx cheer loud enough for her to hear and tell her to move the hell out. She’s lowering the tone of the place.

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11 Responses to “There Goes the Neighborhood.”

  1. Alan Allport Says:

    Think about it. If some journalist wrote an article saying that you never earned your doctorate, would you respond with some snooty flimflam about gossip and sexism? Hell, no. You’d rip that Ph.D. certificate down from the wall, scan it, and email it over to the Boston Globe with a note attached: “read this and weep, mother*cker.”

    That is, if you really did your doctorate.

  2. adam Says:

    She comes across as positively Prussian:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Prussia

  3. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    Apparently she’s good at raising money. ‘Nuff said.

  4. Rita Says:

    I always thought that place (or at least its grounds) was a dog park. But now I see that they have postdocs too, so it’s at least a multi-function dog park.

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: LOL.

    Just talked to Mr UD: “It is indeed a dog park. It was a dog park before they bought the land, and neighbors protested when they looked as though they were going to close it to the public. So the AAAS kept it open as a dog park.”

  6. Jack/OH Says:

    Alan and adam, you’re both on to the rent-seeking, rent-maintaining behaviors of well-plumped American elites who’ve latched on to sinecures. Has anyone else noticed the behavior of some American elites is hardly distinguishable from the nasty hauteur of old European elites as seen in movies and TV?

    adam, you can trust me on this, the Prussian elites were obsolete as a class by 1870 or so, when exported American agricultural commodities undermined their means of hanging on to farm workers and servants. By 1914 all they had left (often) were government subsidies to satisfy their feeling of entitlement, a genuinely selfless devotion to duty as they construed it, and a unified Germany that was a lot cleverer under Bismarck than any of his bumptious successors.

  7. Van L. Hayhow Says:

    Well, this may be the start of the end (or, the end of the beginning), but the Globe is reporting she is on leave while investigations are starting.

  8. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Thanks, Van. I hadn’t seen that.

  9. University Diaries » Nothing against honorary societies… Says:

    […] Wallack, an enterprising Boston Globe reporter, broke the story of Lesley Cohen Berlowitz’s apparent fake credentials, as well as her very real obscene salary and perks as head of the […]

  10. University Diaries » Leslie… Says:

    […] Globe reporter who put up with all the shit the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and its risible public relations firm threw at him to try to make him go […]

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    […] (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 […]

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