In 2007, Texas Monthly Described a Hopelessly Corrupt, Academically Atrocious, University.

Now in its sixtieth year, it has hardly known a time when its fiscal affairs were not in chaos, when its board of regents was not dysfunctional, when its graduation rate was not shockingly low, and when exasperated white politicians in Austin were not talking about putting it under a conservatorship or ending its status as an independent institution.

Thirteen years later, that legacy remains fiercely intact, with Texas Southern University one of America’s most powerful epicenters of criminal negligence in the name of personal greed. One of its recent presidents just barely avoided prison; its last president is running around insisting he had nothing to do with the law school ignoring all applications not coming from people offering bribes, but time and a thousand ongoing outside investigations will tell. Meanwhile, the TSU bar passage rate in 2018 was 27%.

Hey, maybe the board of regents can help!

Ending its status as an independent institution… well, yes, but if it hasn’t happened after seventy years of malpractice , it ain’t gonna happen. What’s gonna happen? They will build new buildings. They will organize sports teams that brawl in empty arenas. The New York Times will visit and see reason to hope.

UD remembers Susan Sontag’s scathing denunciation of the cruel and bogus notion that there was a “cancer personality.”

Her anger at cancer personality bs featured prominently in her book Illness as Metaphor.

UD also remembers wondering why such obviously implausible notions continue to be taken seriously. This might even have been the beginning of UD‘s education in the sketchy field of research in psychology (this blog has over the years covered a zillion stories of disgraced high-profile psychologists, like Marc Hauser and Diederik Stapel).

Finally we seem to have the definitive trashing of the cancer personality. About time.

‘[T]he supposed author of a Forbes story calling [Jeffrey] Epstein “one of the largest backers of cutting edge science” conceded in an interview that he was given $600 to post the pre-written article under his own name.’

UD would like to know who this pathetic, contemptible person is. Forbes has of course pulled the article; but how many other Forbes articles are lies issued under the names of people willing to sell out their bylines for – in this case – six hundred bucks from a sex convict?

Forbes‘ famously clever motto is Capitalist Tool – but until now I didn’t think I was supposed to take it literally.


Oh wait. It’s apparently Drew Hendricks! Silly UD; all I had to do was go to the 404 page and read the url. LOL. More laughs here.

Hm. Didn’t think he could get any more contemptible.

I was wrong.

“Shame on Jussie Smollett for putting American hoax actors out of business by hiring Nigerians to do it.”

Humor means we’re getting over it. Good.

‘Don’t you think for the attackers to have yelled a racist slur as well as a homophobic slur as well as having a bottle of bleach as well as having a noose sounds a bit overdetermined…?’

This excellent question about the Smollett hoax right away reminded UD of another overdetermined hoax – a university one. And maybe in this overdetermined business there’s one small clue for us as we go about defending ourselves from hoaxers.

Seeking to destroy the faculty member who discovered his fraudulent credentials and research, West Virginia University epidemiology professor Anoop Shankar had an Indian friend go to this colleague’s office and …

“You Indians have nice brown skin,” [the colleague] allegedly said [to the student]. “But you smell weird with the spices that you use for cooking.”

Right about then the grey-haired professor supposedly pulled his chair closer and snatched at the young man’s penis.

[A second friend of Shankar’s, standing just outside the office,] claimed that from the hallway, he could then hear [the professor] rise from his chair and say loudly to [the young man], “Here, taste my white c–k.”

[The young man] said he fled rather than reciprocate and that [the professor] flew into a rage, his words echoing into the corridor: “I will destroy you!”

Allow UD to quote herself, starting with her post’s title:


When scripting these scenarios (one of the friends later confessed that Shankar had written and directed this drama), you need to be selective. Minimalism is more plausible than maximalism to most audiences. Deciding to throw in not merely an ethnic slur, but sexual harassment, and not merely sexual harassment but sexual assault, and not merely sexual assault but violent threat of retaliation, is just the sort of excess you’d expect from a sociopath.

Another example of piling on: The chief of staff at Upstate Medical College claimed

that he narrowly escaped a car bombing in Afghanistan… [that] he was hired by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to work in the State Department, that he was in the White House when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in September 2001 and is close friends with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This takes the cake.

I mean, it’s better than the cake. The developing story of the latest fake hate assault has much more drama than the mere addition of some anti-gay icing.  Yet it’s the same contemptible attention- and money-seeking behavior (the cake guy sued Whole Foods; once WF proved he homophobed himself, it countersued), and UD has learned over the course of this blog that the business of staging things is sickeningly common. And of course incredibly destructive to efforts to take seriously actual hate crimes.

All the way back in 2004, UD covered the Professor Kerri Dunn business, when she spray-painted her car with swastikas etc. and everyone at Claremont McKenna rallied on her behalf and worried about incipient fascism until the guys who happened to be taking a walk nearby at the time she did it told the police about watching her paint her car. An education professor at Columbia University, under threat of dismissal for plagiarism (of her students!) hung a noose on her office door and claimed to be the victim of a hate crime. A conservative student at Princeton wrote himself some really nasty, anti-conservative letters and enjoyed right-wing martyrdom until he had to admit the truth…. Croyez-moi, I could go on! And on!


UPDATE: Now this I really don’t get. Washington Post, headline:


Heartbreak is ridiculous. Anger’s the ticket. The Post editor continues:

I tried telling myself that it is possible that two assailants were walking around downtown Chicago at 2 a.m. in January in 10-degree weather, waiting for a black victim. In addition to that, they were stalking around with a bottle of bleach and a rope. And ultimately, the prey they selected was an actor on a show that they must’ve been somewhat familiar with, because they were able to not only name the show but also know that he played a gay character. Never mind the fact that he was likely bundled up because again: Chicago, January, 10 degrees. Also, after he fought to get away, he left the rope around his neck until he got to the hospital.

This ain’t doubt; it’s close to certain knowledge he was bullshitting. And he wasn’t new to bullshitting. Mature political actors – people like newspaper editors – don’t go into denial when people do bad, illegal, and destructive things; nor do they enter into heartbreak when what seemed obviously the case turns out to have been the case. When weirdly flagrant and flagrantly weird events occur, serious people respond with skepticism.

This is more like it:

Commentator Kmele Foster put it this way on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday: “Two in the morning, almost the coldest night of the year, you were attacked and someone conveniently had a rope? My heart goes out to anyone who gets attacked, but it’s totally appropriate to exercise a bit of skepticism and to exercise a bit of patience in waiting for the facts to develop around this story.”


As for the legal implications:

Attorney and CBS2/KCAL9 Legal Analyst Steve Meister says every state penalizes fabricating a crime and the trouble this case has caused is serious.

“That’s felony conduct because you caused a lot of people a lot of problems and you cost the city a lot of money and you took time away from what cops could have been doing to solve real crimes.” Meister says.

He says every state’s laws vary as do the penalties. In California a felony conviction for lying to a police officer is punishable by up to three years in prison.


This case is an object lesson in what happens when people in positions of political and cultural authority abandon critical thinking and pressure those who don’t abandon their circumspection under pain of being smeared as bigots.

“Tuition dollars should be spent on students, not boat checks for administrators,” Pennacchio said. “It is completely unfair and unjust to ask taxpayers and students to continue to subsidize this kind of reckless spending.”

Boat check? That’s a new one on UD. Looked it up and all, and found nothing. I think the writer must have meant blank check?

It’s from an article about how Rutgers University does things like give an administrator who lasted one year in his position “a $480,000 sabbatical” year. Rest and recovery after a job well done! Plus you promise not to tell everyone how filthy the school is, right? Cuz we gave you all that money?


UPDATE: UD thanks Brian, a reader, for explaining “boat check” to her.

The Great Garcby

Fabricating a fascinating heroic you is American as apple pie among all occupations, but this is University Diaries, so we follow in particular academics who make themselves out to be far, far more than they are.

Always overcoming appalling upbringings, ever duking it out on the world’s dirtiest battlefields, ceaselessly being summoned to the offices of the great for advice, these inspirational disrupters are pleased to deliver pep talks to the rest of us as we model our paltrier lives on theirs.

But – and you know UD has been saying this for years – you will only successfully forge a longterm career as a total fraud if you follow a few simple rules.

#1: Do not fly too high. The mistake Sergio Garcia, bigshot chief of staff and senior vp at SUNY Upstate Medical University, made was becoming bigshot chief of etc. The higher your profile, the more likely the local press is going to want to get to know you. Certainly Garcia’s bet that a university which hired David Smith as president would blindly hire a sociopathic liar was completely correct; he overlooked the local press, however.

#2: Choose a really cheesy school. As a product of the local culture of Albany politics, SUNY could hardly be called non-cheesy. It remains however a mildly respectable sort of location – the sort of school where, once the fraudulence of high-ranking administrators is revealed, someone on campus will actually care. Place yourself instead in a school (Southern University; Chicago State University; almost any university in Saudi Arabia) where no one cares.

#3: If you must join a non-cheesy school, make sure you are besties with the school’s president. James Ramsey protected generations of fellow scammers at the University of Louisville; and though this is hardly a guarantee of serious longevity for you (since presidents like Ramsey may themselves have rather short shelf-lives), it’s your only hope. Like the protagonist of Black Widow, you are going to have to find out what the president loves – handball, hockey, humpback whale watching, whoring – and do that thing with him so as to create an unbreakable bond.


UD thanks Eric.

‘I met Marsha during my stunt attendance in a Masters course at Teachers College, Columbia University. I say “stunt attendance” because I was withdrawn from the course for obsessive absences – I was vacationing in Trinidad and Tobago during Carnival Time.’

Annice Kpana thanks a bride for making her her bridesmaid, and in so doing explains her class attendance policy at Columbia.

Is this the same Annice Kpana who in 2010 filed for Porsche Cayenne-related bankruptcy?

Today Annice Kpana was arrested, along with a Columbia University financial aid director and two other women. She was part of a convoluted but rewarding scheme in which the financial aid director

funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the three students between 2013 and 2017, inflating their cost-of-attendance figures on forms in years where they weren’t enrolled in any courses so they could obtain large stipends. In turn, according to the complaint, they paid her back with kickbacks in tens of thousands of dollars — sometimes including “love” or “Thank you!” in the memo line of personal checks.

So… the story is starting to bounce around big time, because it’s Columbia, and because it went on for a long while (some sources say it lasted much longer than four years). And because… why did it take the school so long to catch on? How did it finally catch on? There’s plenty more to know. Columbia hasn’t issued a statement.


From the full complaint:

“[D]uring several of these years, KPANA was also receiving federal student aid in connection with her enrollment at unrelated institutions.”

Imposters. And How to Spot Them.

The funny thing is, it’s often very easy. You don’t really need my instructions on how to detect con men (it’s usually men), because most con men are right out there. Very, very obvious. Let us consider three of them who are currently in the news, starting with … let’s call him the mildest of the cons.

This man’s trickery is in the long and highly rewarded academic tradition of Julius Nyang’oro, Thomas Petee, and Leo Wilton — all of them professors who systematically, over years, provided fake courses and fake grades for athletes. For professors who don’t give a rat’s ass about actually educating anyone, ever, the rewards of this behavior are deep, profound, and monetary. Schools almost entirely devoted to their football and basketball teams – like the schools these men work and worked for – reserve their eagerest gratitude for professors willing to confer upon athletes the trappings of academic respectability. Administrators can’t do it; trustees can’t do it — only professors can put the A-/B+ on the record and keep players eligible.

The system works beautifully, except that occasionally mistakes of judgment are made, and some female pipsqueak hired to help with the grading (in all of the cases I’ve mentioned, except that of Petee, it was a woman) turns out actually to care about educating people. She’s appalled when she realizes she’s part of a con game, and she goes public with the scandal.

In the case of Florida State University’s athlete-positive professor, we’re talking about an online (has to be online – makes it much, much easier to cheat or indeed do absolutely nothing and ace a course) hospitality course called Beverage Management.

I’m not making this up. At FSU, we have entirely entered the world of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, where a local university offers a course called Eating and Drinking: Basic Parameters.

But don’t be too harsh. FSU started out with much more curricular gravitas for its players. For decades, a music theory professor there let hundreds of athletes cheat their way through his intro course. When that scheme was revealed and became a big ol’ national scandal, FSU had to hustle to find another online curricular home for people it didn’t give a rat’s ass about educating. It lowered itself all the way down to a person who heads one section of his 33 page cv Scholary Honors (some of his students have had it up to here with his spelling). (Oh. And there’s this.)

Where does FSU go now? When this latest cheating scandal is over, where can they go that’s even lower than online courses in Beverage Management?

Okay, so the two other con men the media’s paying attention to this week:

Like the FSU guy with his article-length cv trumpeting his amazing accomplishments (come to think of it, Professor Gun-Spree also has the self-presentation of an egomaniac), the children’s book author whose PEN nomination has been withdrawn on PEN discovering what actual Native American writers have been trying to tell the world for years – the writer is a con man – also displays a hilarious sense of his own greatness.

And let’s end with Paolo Macchiarini, shall we? Stem cell research of course is the hard-science con man’s Emerald City … And this guy, like the others, didn’t exactly hide his borderline-psychotic world of lies.


UD thanks Barney.

When the New York Times Visits Chicago State University.

UD doesn’t know who the NYT thinks it’s helping – or hurting? – by running this bizarre hard-luck story about the CSU women’s basketball team. Barely a team, losing every game, attracting no audience, representing a school that – through every fault of its own successive corrupt leaderships – has destroyed itself, this group of players deserves our sympathy. Indeed, it deserves our outrage. But ultimately it deserves to be put out of its misery, along with the virtually empty institution that fails even minimally to prop it up. Almost no one attends, or graduates, from CSU. This scandalous drop-out factory continues to cost the taxpayers of Illinois serious money, most of which goes to on-campus fraudsters and off-campus lawyers.

CSU (here are UD‘s posts over many years about the place) is a little corner of North Korea in America. It cannot afford to keep the heat on. It’s a desperate deadbeat. It will not talk to the press, and it chills the free speech of its professors. Crazy North Korea launches missiles; crazy CSU launches football teams and marching bands (yes – it has plans to spend its no-money on these).

But let’s suit up!

The announced crowd at Jones Convocation Center, a first-rate arena, was 230, but the atmosphere was expectant. Players and coaches on both teams and a number of fans wore pink to promote breast cancer awareness. Allen, the Cougars’ best player, had been cleared to return after the effects of a concussion subsided.

Look at the photos that accompany the article to understand how inflated that 230 figure is. Ask yourself why the writers of this piece are trying to excite us with the expectant atmosphere, the breast-cancer awareness, and that gutsy post-concussion return.

There’s nobody home. There’s only some well-meaning Manhattanite at her breakfast table, trying to make sense of this theater of the absurd.

The NYT should be ashamed of itself, playing CSU for a scrappy up-and-comer in order to help keep a failed, expensive, and deeply destructive institution alive.

Been There, Done That.

Melania [Trump] claimed for years that she had an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana. But reporters have long known that she dropped out after her first year to model — no shame in that; some shame in lying though. Now her personal website has been totally scrubbed and just reverts to The Trump Organization’s website. In a tweet yesterday, Melania claimed the website was removed because “it does not accurately reflect my current business and professional interests.” Because fake architecture degrees are so last year.

What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

A German politician has resigned her seat in the Bundestag because she lied – extensively – on her cv.

German publications “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” (WAZ) and the “Neue Ruhr Zeitung” (NRZ) reported late on Tuesday that contrary to what her CV said, [Petra] Hinz had never acquired a higher education entrance qualification nor completed university studies in law. The lawyer for the Essen politician also confirmed that Hinz had never taken any legal exams.

In a statement published on the politician’s website, the 54-year-old’s attorney said that “in retrospect, Ms Hinz is unable to discern which reasons … compelled her at the time to lay the foundations for further inaccurate claims about her legal education and activities with the false indication about her high-school diploma.”


UD thanks Chris.

And if he can pay enough people to…

vote for him…

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