UD’s sister, the Morrissey fanatic…

… is featured in the Guardian newspaper.

The animal shelter-cum-pop-up store was bustling. The dog-sweaters were available in a range of sizes and seemed to be doing particularly good business, as was a purple dog-sized bandana.

Frances Eby, 58, bought a T-shirt which had a famous image of Morrissey with a cat on his head and the words: “My life with Fanny the wondercat”. Eby was originally going to be called Fanny, she said, after her grandmother, but her parents backed out.

Eby had travelled from Maryland to see the Morrissey show. She was with her friend Diane Seltzer, whom she met in 2007 through a Morrissey message board called “Mozketeers”. “I’ve made lifelong friends through Morrissey,” she said.

That’s true about Grandma Wasserman.

We didn’t call Frances Fanny when we were growing up, but we did call her Fooey.

“President Schulz … chairs the NCAA board of governors, the NCAA’s highest-ranking committee.”

Well, you get what you ask for.

For the last few weeks, this blog has been following the tanking fortunes of jockshop Washington State University — as in, pretty bad school stays pretty bad because it’s a jockshop and jockshops are notoriously subject to the contingencies of the college sports industry and therefore keep suffering financial crises. Forget academics – little to see there. Forget student morale – low to vanishing. And why? Because the big money goes to greedy coaches and heavily indebted sports construction projects, and because the school keeps soaking its students for outrageous athletics fees.

And by the way forget reputation: Under Mad Dog Mike, the lads on the football team have really been pulling out all the stops student-assault-wise…

But then when you consciously appoint as president a major NCAA macher, what do you expect? The school is clearly being run for the pleasure of boosters (I guess; I really don’t know who’s happy about the sort of school WSU is, with the exception of the guy at the top who chairs the NCAA board of governors), and as the shit hits the fan we’re beginning to hear from oh I don’t know professors and students … They are not happy.

They might begin by asking who appointed as president of the university a person who could certainly be expected to pee his pants over sports and sports alone.

Administrators have asked students to consider paying an additional $50 per semester to help bring the athletics department into the black. The department has been operating at a $13 million deficit since 2014, partly because of higher coaching salaries, an expensive new football facility and lower-than-projected TV revenue.

The selfsame malsain Mike must be fed, or he’ll take his … curious… ways elsewhere…

One student pithily sums up the way WSU is being run:

“When was the last time you went to an expensive steakhouse, ordered more food than you needed and gave the bill to a stranger on the street?”

Mad Dog and Mr NCAA are certainly getting overfull meals every day. Let the students pay for it! Leach, that builder of young men’s characters, gets close to three million a year (with assorted perks thrown in), and as more players get arrested and pummel undergraduates we can expect that salary to rise like crazy. Five million in two years? Almost certainly. Let the students get pummeled and let the students pay for their pummeling.

University Students: A Captive Audience

Some professors look at a room full of students and see propaganda dupes, army recruits. Teaching for these people is rallying the troops, reminding them every Tuesday and Thursday of the cosmic justice of the cause.

There are more agitprop profs around than you might think. UD has covered a ton of them on this blog, including a very curious Canadian physics instructor

Slightly more benign versions of the rabble-rouser are professors who are running for state rep and who give their students extra credit for leafleting on their behalf, and professors who have found personal liberation via this or that guru and want to burble to the kids about it for two and a half hours a week. And of course there are professors who simply steal money from the sitting ducks. Details here.


Universities need to be vigilant about all of this, er, extracurricular activity; but it’s often hard to know what’s up, and students will tolerate amazing amounts of shit from professors before they complain.

When things get way over-the-top, however, students will complain, as they did a number of years ago at UD‘s own George Washington University. A visiting professor’s course, Arab-Israeli Conflict, turned out to be Israeli Wonderland. According to students, she virtually never mentioned the Arab world, let alone bothered arguing about/against it, and instead sang the praises of the land from which she came. She left the university.

And now there’s the course Berkeley shut down. And then reopened. I think.

Berkeley has a deal where undergrads can teach one-credit courses. This course was one of those.

Here’s the first article about it. After complaints by Jewish groups about the allegedly doctrinaire, relentlessly anti-Israeli nature of the course, the school suspended it. But then they reinstated it. But (the article’s last line) a “new version [of its syllabus] now goes to the Academic Senate’s course committee for consideration.” UD is confused.

Anyway. A Berkeley prof’s defense of the course is a little shaky, seems to me.

The student instructors “are not going to be teaching [some of these courses] from a balanced, cautious perspective — they’re impassioned,” she said.

“It’s as if I were to say, ‘Let’s consider U.S. history through the perspective of Native American genocide,’ … “There are people who’d say, ‘What about George Washington?’ Well, they can teach that course, too.”

Balance is for the cautious! Let your passions rule!

Is it Berkeley, or is it To God Be the Glory U?

The Leath Beneath My Wings

Give a boy a sports program. Give him his own fleet of planes. Watch him play, and watch Iowa State University pay!

ISU president Steven Leath thinks he can fly, and he thinks he’s exempt from rules about using university planes (why does an impoverished – apparently impoverished, not great university have a fleet of planes?) for personal trips.

No one at ISU seems able to keep Leach grounded.

I mean, far from being able to control the lad, university personnel struggle mightily to hide the expensive damage he does as he busts up said planes in order to fly to vacation homes.

Iowa State University President Steven Leath caused “substantial damage” to a university airplane he was piloting when it made a hard landing at an Illinois airport last year — a costly incident kept quiet for 14 months… University pilots were sent to pick up Leath and his wife with the school’s second airplane. The roundtrip flight cost more than $2,200 and was charged to the “Greater University Fund.” Leath controls that pot of unrestricted donations, which Iowa State says pays for its “most critical needs.”

What could be more critical to Iowa State University (famed for having inspired Jane Smiley’s Moo, a novel jammed with campus incidents just like this one) than supporting its president’s ongoing effort to figure out how to land a plane while the wind is blowing? The man is a treasure. He’s the guy who explains why the sports program is too poor to do anything about academics.

“We are facing a number of very large, comprehensive serious lawsuits related to athletics,” Leath said. “So before we would change our budget structure and put money into academics, we want to at least get past some of these immediate lawsuits.”

Games, games, and the president’s toys.
All jolly things for all jolly boys!

Geert Bekaert’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Semester.

The Leon Cooperman Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University must be in a pretty foul mood.

Not only is he the object of a colleague’s high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit; his very title has become besmirched. Leon Cooperman has just been accused of insider trading.

Chicago State University: North Korea U.

UD has said many times on these pages that corrupt, insane, and paranoid Chicago State University is America’s little North Korea on the Chicago Southside. Just as that country is an experiment in whether secretive ignorant madmen can run a state, CSU is an experiment in whether a similar grouping can run a university.

The two places have another characteristic in common – when you visit either location, there don’t seem to be many human beings about. I guess everyone’s in prison in North Korea, whereas in the case of CSU virtually no one applies or enrolls, which is another innovative aspect of that university: Can you run a public institution of higher education with no students?

UD has, in these pages, answered that question with a resounding yes: You can run a university without students. If the taxpayers of Illinois don’t mind continuing to fund the operation, you can simply have administrators fussing about with this and that – is the air conditioning system working? etc. – and the trustees can continue to hold their Top Secret meetings (which would not in reality be held – only alluded to in speeches from the latest Dear Leader).

[L]ast week [CSU’s] board of trustees approved a separation agreement with Thomas J. Calhoun Jr., who had been named president of the university just nine months earlier.

“But why was he asked to leave?” asked furious students and faculty at Friday’s board meeting.

To which they received a reply that was like an insult.

“Everyone agreed it’s in the best interests of Dr. Calhoun and the university,” said CSU Board Chair Anthony Young.

What does that even mean?

It was The Unanimous Will of the People. By Total Enthusiastic Acclamation the People Decided it was in The Best Interests of the State for Dr. Calhoun to go. Dr. Calhoun Accepts his Fate with Humble Trembling Gratitude and has Begged to enter a State Reeducation Farm so that he can Confess his Deviationism and Learn from the People How he can Better Serve the State.

Beech Grove, Indiana.

All-American town!

Nice work if you can get it.

Over at Chicago State University, the board of trustees handed Thomas Calhoun Jr. $600,000 in severance pay as they showed him the door after just nine months at the university’s helm.

In following the ongoing Washington State University fiasco…

UD has said that WSU is one of those American universities that doesn’t have a president – only a football coach.

Someone at WSU had the bad idea of letting its latest president-impersonator (very latest – he won his audition only a couple of months ago) out to talk to the press. Everyone was wondering what he’d say on the subject of Coach Crazyass and his Merry Marauders, and this clueless genial man did not disappoint.

“Clearly, at the end of the football season, I think it’s very fair that athletic director Bill Moos and myself and coach (Mike) Leach all sit down and say, ‘Hey, is what we’re doing working?’ ” Schulz said. “But we don’t do that in the middle of the season for anything.”

Not for anything! When you’re doing this well, you don’t fuck it up!

The Spokesman-Review covered the team’s recent history of encounters with law enforcement in stories on Sunday, revealing what appear to be systemic problems within the athletics department. Since Leach started coaching the team in early 2012, players have been arrested 29 times – more than any other college football program in the nation, according to ArrestNation.com.

The new prez has also said he won’t comment on team carnage that occurred before his ascension… WSU being a remarkably bloody location for a long time… And people are wondering why he won’t. But Mr President won’t say. That’s just how he feels. He just doesn’t feel like talking about that stuff. Fiddle-dee-dee.

As the school, under the leadership of Coach Crazyass, goes down the tubes, two factions are emerging. The allies of the coach think it’s a shame that the evil media is paying so much attention to non-events like football players breaking the heads and jaws of WSU students. This phenomenon – common on quite a few campuses – is as we all know a small price to pay for attracting the most aggressive tacklers in the country to your campus. You’re going to lose a few students. I mean, not to death haha! But to grievous injury… UD has suggested reducing the yearly student athletic fee of anyone who can show he or she has sustained significant physical or mental trauma from the lads.

The other side thinks all the attention WSU is attracting onaccounta its crazy coach and his marauding men is not a good thing.

“As a former WSU regent, I am saddened that the university’s efforts to focus on world class academic excellence are in danger of falling victim to a ‘just win baby’ mentality driven by the bottom line of big money athletics,” Marr wrote. “I encourage the regents to seize leadership on this.”

In response to this, the regents have been totally, unanimously, utterly silent.

Then there’s faculty, another peripheral group we certainly expect to keep its trap shut.

“[The coach is] embarrassing us on ESPN, on a national stage,” said Matthew Sutton, a history professor. “To me it’s just outrageous.”

Sutton said he initially brushed aside negative comments about Leach when the controversial coach was hired in 2011. Leach had been fired from Texas Tech in 2009 for ordering that a player be locked in an equipment shed, and later a darkened office, during practice.

“I gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Sutton said. “I’ve since realized that all the criticism from my colleagues about him was correct.”

Oh yeah now I see how it is! Before, this was just a dude with a bad behavior sheet the length of a football field, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But now – well, I guess all those colleagues who told me what a shit he was were right…

And why didn’t all of those colleagues… you know… designate a spokesperson and object to your university deciding to be led by a hopped-up son of a bitch? Now you’ve got yourself in the classic jockshop place: A clueless prez-impersonator; Coach El Duce and his Dudes; hospitals full of hemorrhaging undergrads; and even a fan base beginning to question The Wonderful World of WSU Football.

But don’t panic. There’s an established triage here: 24/7 surveillance for the team. Various forms of bribery (free tickets and more) to the cops to keep them from reporting stuff. Put the president back in his cage. Don’t worry about trustees and faculty – there will be a squeak here or there from them at worst. Hold off for a year on the next student fee increase. And for god’s sake: Hold a bunch of charitable events featuring players, staff, and coaches!

“The financial adviser for a longtime University of New Hampshire library employee says the man would have been pleased with the university’s decision to spend one fourth of his $4 million gift to the school on a video scoreboard for the football stadium.”

From the moment UD got a load of the now-notorious story of the UNH librarian and his gift to the school (the story has gone all the way up to the governor), she’s been calling bullshit on it. She hasn’t posted on it because she thinks it’s not only a non-story, it’s a kitsch story.

It’s about people projecting onto a photograph of a pale solitary thready bookish recently deceased man a big fat volume of values (scholarship over football, quiet reflection over rahrahrah, etc.) which seems not fully to have represented the guy. Yeah, he was a librarian and he liked books; he also spent years failing to complain to anyone, far as I know, about what a squalid party/football school UNH happens to be. In fact, “Morin got really into football in the year before he died: ‘In the last 15 months of his life, Morin lived in an assisted living center where he started watching football games on television, mastering the rules and names of the players and teams.'” (UD thanks Wendy for that link.)

That’s why UD wasn’t surprised when someone who knew him well said – well, look at my headline. The school decided to use much of his unrestricted gift to buy a scoreboard. He would have been “pleased” with it. You might not like it; you might think he wouldn’t have liked it. You’re entitled to your opinion, but not to any outrage on his behalf.

What? You think that in absolute terms, as it were, it was a lousy thing to do with his money? Now you’re guilty of betraying this guy’s wishes.

“[The police chief] said that [the] behavior of WSU’s student-athletes has improved tremendously…”

It’s gone way past Orwellian in Pullman Washington, where the most criminalized football team in the country, Washington State University, enjoys high praise from the police chief even as his officers keep arresting its players. The team’s coach, a big-mouth bully trailing accusations of player abuse from coaching job to coaching job, is loudly and persistently outraged that his guys, currently subjecting the WSU student body to torture and disfigurement, should be arrested at all, given that most of this stuff started during fights and other people were also fighting but his guys were picked up just because everyone knows who they are and just because they’re the biggest so they inflict the most damage.

Add humongous, ever-growing student athletic fees, and you’ve certainly got a creeping Ick Factor problem on that campus…

WSU is becoming a kind of laboratory for an emergent reality in American football schools. Until now, we’ve been told to regard player violence on many football campuses as a sometime thing – this domestic violence, that armed robbery, that melee, that beat-up freshman. The coach’s job was to be the wounded daddy, disappointed that junior had misbehaved. The player disappeared and we went on with the show.

WSU shows us how this picture has evolved. The coach has gone from disappointed daddy to belligerent defender of violent people. Sure, they’re violent! But so are a lot of other people, and if other violent people aren’t arrested, our guys shouldn’t be.

The violence itself has become less individualized and more team-centered: Attacks aren’t just one lunatic like Richie Incognito; they’re now liable to be three or four players working as a … team. Which is how schools like WSU rack up national most-arrested titles.

Everything’s getting more explicit: Under pressure from splashy New York Times exposés, police departments like Pullman’s are more likely to actually arrest players.

And though schools keep trying to fudge the numbers, huge spikes in student fees to pay for the glorious athletics department have not gone unnoticed.


UD thinks Mike Leach, a very high-profile Donald Trump supporter, knows exactly what he’s doing. Once a man like Trump is elected, the sky’s the limit.

Wondered where the katydid I found in the house yesterday…


… got to. It’s on my piano bench.

My Kid at 26.


Frighteningly attractive.

The University of Missouri.

Trash all around.

“[Medical University of South Carolina] staff regularly stock up on liquor for the [board of trustees’] ‘hospitality suite.’ One staff member purchased nearly $700 worth of alcohol at Burris Liquor Store and Pence’s Liquor & Wine before a February 2015 meeting.”

Motto of the MUSC Board of Trustees:


« Previous PageNext Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE





It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte