A university whose systemic academic fraud was so bad that observers were positioned in classrooms TO MAKE SURE that professors met their classes…

… tops that one by denying tenure to a scholar whose qualifications outshine almost everyone on the Chapel Hill faculty.

Not at all surprisingly, Nikole Hannah-Jones, having ultimately dragged tenure out of these dummies, immediately dumped the place for another institution. That was exactly the right thing to do: Make your point, embarrass UNC, and leave its sports-mad ickiness behind you in a cloud of dust.

Not that Howard, where Hannah-Jones has accepted a position, is a paragon. I’ve followed Howard University on this blog for years, and it’s got a pile of problems. But at least it’s trying to solve them.

And the first shall be last.

Chicago State University is arguably America’s worst university; Yale is arguably the best. Yet in Orwellian times, Yale and Chicago State meet in the Stasi space, where students denounce students, professors denounce professors, and students denounce professors, all in a context of terrified anonymity. “Students regularly attack their professors, and one another, for their scholarship, professional choices and perceived political views. In a place awash in rumor and anonymous accusations, almost no one would speak on the record.”

One might have thought Yale shot its wad when Naomi Wolf (current Wolf news here) attacked Harold Bloom twenty years after the whatever. But that was just one local accusation. We now have a world.

In the latest instance, involving a naughty law professor, a text-message “dossier” reveals …

“Evidence of what?” one (Yale professor) asked. Another called it “tattletale espionage.”

“Where are we — in Moscow in 1953, when children were urged to report on their parents and siblings?” the professor said.

Secret recordings, anonymous denunciations, a massive “whisper network” – Yale, meet Chicago State.

On September 5, a reader sent me…

this, from the MIT Technology Review. It was an insider reckoning with the school’s Media Lab, which turns out to have been an Early Epstein Responder. But unlike a lot of people and institutions, the Lab, under its modest, unworldly, cerebral, founder (“[Nicholas] Negroponte said that he prided himself on knowing over 80% of the billionaires in the US on a first-name basis…”), kept on taking Jeffrey Epstein’s money long after he had been convicted of sex crimes. (“He wiped his reputation off with the dirty money [the Lab] took. Then he raped more kids.”) Of course they tried to hide what they were doing (wouldn’t you?), and now the story of greed, moral degeneracy, and coverup at one of America’s most burnished schools has jumped all over the place, esp. the New York Times and the New Yorker.

A writer for the Guardian draws out – way out – some possible implications of this big ol’ scandal.

The ugly collective picture of the techno-elites that emerges from the [MIT] Epstein scandal reveals them as a bunch of morally bankrupt opportunists… [A] “third culture” [was supposed to] replace the [university’s] technophobic literary intellectuals with [intellectuals] coming from the world of science and technology…

It’s not uncommon for intellectuals to serve as useful idiots to the rich and the powerful, but, under the “third culture”, this reads like a job requirement… [C]lose the Media Lab, disband the Ted Talks, refuse the money of tech billionaires… Without such drastic changes, the powerful bullshit-industrial complex that is the “third culture” will continue unharmed, giving cover to the next Epstein.

As a technophobic literary whatever, UD‘s thrilled at the prospect of threadbare morally serious professors taking their no money and no influence and bashing the brains out of the techies and their billionaire buddies… but this seems unlikely. The Guardian writer seems a bit over the top. After all, it ain’t just techies – look at what Stanford med school professors have been doing forever! The future belongs to the bullshit-industrial (industrial bullshit?) complex.

Well, it makes for a hell of a personal statement.

I mean, talk about overcoming adversity. She had her heart set on being a suicide bomber and killing hundreds of men, women, and children. She got arrested all dressed up and ready to go — in full suicide-bomb gear.

Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself for undeploying, she applied to university. Something to do between vest fittings.

But her past keeps catching up with her. Universities keep throwing her out.

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

UD proposes that this woman approach Rick Singer with some serious money. Surely she’s got some ISIS cash. He can get her into Stanford.

No amount of taxation is too small for a 30-billion-dollar-endowed university to lobby against!

[Yale] has lobbied against the [new] 1.4 percent excise tax on annual endowment returns, which targets 35 universities — including Yale — with assets greater than $500,000 per full-time student. According to a budget update published earlier this month, projected spending from the University’s endowment will grow by 6.3 percent next fiscal year, despite adjustment to the new tax.

Don’t worry, Yalies! We’ll labor night and day to keep the government’s stinking hands off that 1.4 percent!

Chicago State University, America’s Little North Korea…

… (as UD has always called it) has disappeared as a university (few students attend; almost no one graduates) but continues to thrive as a taxpayer-sponsored kleptomania/litigation machine. Corruption, virtually the only game on campus (uh, plus basketball), must be kept quiet in order to sustain itself, so the school’s constantly suing or threatening to sue students, professors, and administrators who tell the truth about what’s going on. CSU loses the suits, of course, and has to pay (the good people of Illinois have to pay) big settlement and legal costs.

Here’s the latest payout, the result of the school suing two faculty bloggers who did not conform, wrote CSU, to the “high standards of civility and professionalism [that] are central tenants [sic] of the University’s values.”

Centuries ago, Leo Braudy and a bunch of other very cool English professors at the University of Southern California…

… interviewed UD in a hotel room during a New York City MLA convention; they then invited her to spend three days in LA – she gave a paper, walked around the cool campus, got taken out to cool LA restaurants, and left the city feeling extremely good about USC.

She was thrilled to get a job offer a few days later, but ultimately decided she was more of an east coaster.

UD recalled all of this when reading an opinion piece by Braudy about the resignation of USC’s benighted president, Max Nikias. He left under the impossible pressure of multiple very big sex and drug scandals, and he really had to leave. But Leo makes the important point that despite the awful scandals on his watch, Nikias did a huge amount of good for the school.

When Nikias became provost in 2005, one of his first acts was to institute Visions and Voices, an arts and humanities program that is free to all students, bringing writers, actors, dancers and other prominent artists to campus to create a vibrant nighttime activity rather than the commuter wasteland that had existed before.

… More than 100 endowed faculty chairs and 20 new research centers were established under Nikias’ leadership and with the funds he raised. The number of residential colleges, where students can fruitfully interact with faculty, graduate students and each other, increased from one to 15. Older campus buildings were renovated and new ones added, including the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, and the Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The campus itself has been beautified with more than a thousand new trees as well as numerous places for students and faculty to sit, have coffee and converse.

And if you are in search of an ethical as well as a bricks-and-mortar legacy, consider his enormous expansion of the diversity of USC’s community of scholars, and especially his strong support of first-generation students, students from foster families and DACA students.

The USC student body now is drawn from all 50 states and 129 countries. Sixteen percent of the incoming freshman class will be the first in their families to attend college; about a quarter are underrepresented minorities. Two-thirds of all USC students receive financial aid, which has increased almost 80% under Nikias, from $187 million to $325 million — the biggest financial aid pool in America. Very few “spoiled children” here.

Nor is USC any longer the University of Second Choice. The university is rated 15th nationally by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, and USC this year had 63,000 freshman applications.

At some universities, theft is endemic…

… among faculty and staff. At our most career-criminal schools, like the University of Louisville, the theft starts at the top (UL is currently trying to use the courts to claw back a few of the millions their last president apparently swiped) and moves briskly and efficiently through various heads of programs (who can forget Dean Felner?) and also into – no kidding – athletics.

UD has learned over the blogging years that the less legitimacy – hell, the less reality – something calling itself a university has, the more the random people hanging around this random place will steal. Schools with a graduation rate approaching zero percent – for instance, Southern University, with its beloved, larcenous band leader – and schools approaching zero enrollment, like Chicago State University, will be the national theft standouts.

Obviously, as the school tanks, very few conscientious people will want to have anything to do with trying to run it. You end up hiring rogues, hastening the process of decline.

“Don’t worry about me. Nobody is more blessed than Jim Ramsey of Fern Creek, Ky.”

Little Jimbo! His is the story of a local boy who rose all the way to university president, whereupon he took as much money from its foundation as he thought he could get away with. And he did! He got away with it!

I mean, maybe he did. The University of Louisville announced today that they’re gonna sue him… Gonna see if they can’t get back a little of their pilfered loot… Gonna see if they can’t make the pride of Fern Creek give up one or even two of his McMansions in Florida…

Lehigh and…

Lelow.

Paul Krugman’s Column Today on Hobbesian America…

… reminds ol’ UD to talk about a trend among prospective students and faculty at our country’s universities.

Krugman points out that

our madness over guns [is] just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

There are larger and larger areas of this country where

[people regard any] public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.

This paranoia strikes both deep and wide. Does anyone remember George Will declaring that liberals like trains, not because they make sense for urban transport, but because they serve the “goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism”? And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.

Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — [including] security from crazed gunmen…

We’re beginning to see evidence of some faculty leaving, and some students not applying, to universities in these frontier settings. Bullets, rapists, and riots, oh my…

Many such locations are already cultural wastelands; some are also beginning to look like shooting galleries.

Why, for instance, would anyone with a choice want to live – even for a few years – in Waco, Texas, home of armed cults, armed motorcycle gangs, and Baylor University? Why would a non-Hobbesian want to work there, live there, go to school there, teach there? It’s not as if there’s any cultural compensation to living in the Wild West. It’s guns and strip malls and megachurches where you beg divine protection.

Why would you go to Hammond, Louisiana and attend Southeastern Louisiana University, famous for being the last school in America willing to take Jonathan Taylor? Can anyone be surprised that at 3 AM yesterday a fight broke out on campus and a bunch of people got shot?

These schools are part of America’s Hobbesian wastelands, where you grabs your AR-15 and you takes your chances. The idea that a university could thrive under these conditions is hilarious.

Trying to teach or learn in these settings is like deciding to take your family vacation in Beach Blanket Bloodbath Myrtle Beach. Why? Unless you’re a Hobbesian and you enjoy that sort of thing?

UD anticipates a militarization of certain campuses – having been abandoned by civilization, they will become weedy tracts patrolled by open-carry paranoids offering Active Shooter Response seminars.

If you’re in the wasteland, and you can leave, you should. Get out while the getting’s good.

‘Scuse me. Just need to powder…

… my snubnose.”

Our university might be a stinking pile of shit…

… but so’s the NCAA.

The life of the mind, USA, 2018.

To live with books.

Victor Brombert, New Yorker:

In 1941, a week or two after my family’s safe arrival in New York Harbor on a freighter overcrowded with refugees escaping from Nazi-occupied countries, an old friend of my parents took us on an excursion to a small town in New Jersey. He parked his car on what I now know to be Witherspoon Street, near the corner facing the Princeton campus. Looking at the scene of university life before me then, I was struck by the confident gait of figures in tweed jackets moving along the alleys, carrying books and briefcases. No hurry, no sombre faces. Without my realizing it at the time, a series of idyllic images settled in my mind, and I carried them with me throughout the war, all the way to devastated Berlin, where, in the fall of 1945, I determined that this was the kind of life I wanted: to live with books, to study, to learn, perchance to teach.

… A sonnet by William Wordsworth extols the contentment of students in their “pensive citadels” — strongholds not for the exercise of power or for war but for the joy of studies.

‘He holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of McGill, Montréal, Laval and the Curtis School of Music.’

Until they took it down, the Royal Philharmonic conductors page included an entry on Charles Dutoit which listed some of his honorary degrees. They took it down because

Monsieur Dutoit
Is hot to trot.
All his Mais non!s
Have come to naught.

Will the schools revoke the degrees?

UD predicts that maybe one will follow the Nevernevernever Yale model (To be sure Dr Mengele performed some questionable surgeries, but we never revoke an honorary degree…), while the others will announce that they are passing Dutoit’s, uh, baton back to him.

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