Thursday, November 30, 2006
And Speaking of Fired Coaches:|
Huggins Brings His Brand of Magic to Kansas State!
From Inside Bay Area:
There are things about Bob Huggins that are not open to debate:
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
A Regular University Diaries Feature
Mike Lopresti, sports writer for USA Today, is pissed. Disgusted.
SOS reminds you that when you write from strong emotions, you want to control your tone. No one's interested in your particular tantrum on any particular day.
Moreover, some issues are worthier of intense feeling than others. Most people would agree that victims of genocide, let's say, are more important than spectacularly compensated American university football coaches who have recently been dismissed from their jobs. When you reserve your righteousness for soon-to-be-rehired coaches, readers wonder about your priorities.
You don't want people wondering about your priorities. You want them focused on your argument.
No more college football coaches sacked since sundown, but the day is young. We can use this temporary ceasefire to count the bodies being carried away, in a landscape where patience is spent even quicker than money. [We know that sportswriters as a group are metaphor-mad, with the metaphors changing from paragraph to paragraph, and Mike is no different. The scene of battlefield carnage with which he's begun, where multiple million dollar a year coaches with massive buyouts are compared to dead soldiers, will shift in the next paragraph.]
Grade: D+. The plus is for the homeless bit.
Conflict of Interest Tickertape|
Faithful readers recall that UD has asked them to imagine a busy tickertape running through University Diaries with constantly updated stories about academic conflicts of interest. Conflict of interest is so rife at universities that any serious effort to cover it would take up most of my time.
My editorial policy is to interrupt the tickertape on occasion with stories like this one:
A survey of hospital review boards that watchdog experiments on patients shows that one in three members takes money from companies that make drugs and medical devices that come under study.
Snapshots from Home:|
Adjuncts and Unions
Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed reports:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the legitimacy of a vote by adjuncts at George Washington University to unionize.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
A Mere Lad...|
...has won this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award. Twenty-something Ian Hollingshead, author of a first novel called Twenty Something, wrote of "a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles."
'This year’s runner-up was Tim Willcocks’ medieval action novel, “The Religion,” for a scene in which characters grapple passionately in a forge “across the cold steel face of the anvil.”
--thanks to Fred--
The Failed Presidential Search|
at the University of Iowa
Gets More and More Interesting
Background here. The plot thickens.
Some University of Iowa faculty say they're concerned about potential conflicts of interests resulting from ties between Iowa Board of Regents members and the state's largest health insurance company.
The University Football Fan's Creed|
After all, what is progress? Is progress making the team better academically? Is progress having closer connections to the surrounding community? Is progress selling more jerseys and being fashion-forward?
Woe Be Unto
The blogosphere has provoked quite a lot of what UD calls particularity panic among established print writers who don't like to share the limelight.
First there was Robert Samuelson ridiculing, in the Washington Post, the egotism of web writers who actually have a great deal less egotism than he.
Now there's Michael Kinsley, also in the Post, saying exactly -- but exactly -- the same thing.
Can't the Post think of new subjects to write about? Or is the Post -- struggling, like so many newspapers, with online competition -- overfond of this sort of thing?
Kinsley repeatedly condemns Web writers as "solipsistic."
[E]ven in their quieter modes, denizens of the Web seem to lug around huge egos and deeply questionable assumptions about how interesting they and their lives might be to others.
Kinsley himself not long ago luxuriated at a series of spas, and then wrote a lengthy article about where he was squeezed and how his toesies felt and shit.
I am strapped to a table in a semi-darkened room. Lush, vapid New Age music plays in the background. Two women enter carrying jars of warm peanut butter, one creamy and one crunchy (the peanut butter, that is—don't be vulgar). The women begin slathering the peanut butter on me. ... I have been slathered with [other] unguent[s] [besides] peanut butter, been submerged and sprayed...
Is going to spas on a magazine's dime and telling everybody what they did to your body there what Kinsley has in mind by non-solipsistic writing?
"We Are Out of Control."|
Controversy surrounding UNC's new football coach. Butch Davis has signed on to make nearly two-million dollars a year.
Each college contains the teacher, the student, the old, the young, the poetic, the prosaic, the bold, the shy, the clever, the plodding, the careless, the careful, the wealthy, the poor, the cold, the compassionate, the indolent, the industrious, the neurotic, the peaceful, the refined, the vulgar, the emotional, the analytical, the earnest, the satirical — and by bringing all this pied beauty together into the small, stable, academically rich setting of a residential college, week after week, year after year after year, the true promise of educational diversity is realized.
Robert J. O'Hara, an evolutionary biologist and an old blogfriend of UD's, writes in eloquent advocacy of small, decentralized residential colleges at Inside Higher Education.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
What I Did Today|
When house and garden chez Soltan get so degraded that UD begins to feel like Little Edie Beale of Grey Gardens, she calls in her cleaning crew and joins them as they work around the house. That's what I did today.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Miami football is a biohazard that has spewed poison for too long. It is overseen by a grim-faced little blood sausage of an athletics director named Paul Dee, who answers to a two-faced politician of a school president named Donna Shalala. It is a place where players pack heat in the street and get in brawls on the field, where there is always pretty talk about the team's new image followed by ugly headlines about the same old Miami....[A good new coach] wouldn't fool around with the kind of cretins Miami has pursued over the years. Larry Coker is said to be, and seems to be, a prince of a guy. But he once signed stud linebacker Willie Williams knowing full well that Williams had an 11-arrest rap sheet.
From the World of
Despite the resources of the university and the football team's boosters, the reward for information leading to an arrest [in the Bryan Pata murder] is $1,000, the minimum amount offered in all homicides. ... [The head of the local Crime Stoppers said] he had not yet been contacted by the university or by any of Miami's famous alumni, like former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who attended the campus memorial last week.
Following nearly eight months of scrambling, Eastern Michigan University officials on Monday announced what they believe will be at least a temporary solution to a football attendance problem that, if not dealt with, may have affected the school's standing with the NCAA.
Thou Shalt Have Only One God,|
And His Name Shall Be.......
A recent NCAA report about college athletics "has 13 glossy, full-page photographs of athlete-students either competing in sports events or studying among Greek columns, library stacks, laboratory flasks or computer terminals. Four pages give a photographic rogues’ gallery of smiling presidents and chancellors," writes Tom Palaima of the University of Texas, who has the stomach to analyze this sort of thing closely.
The buoyant nothingness of the report sinks a bit when its authors mark the American university professor's non-sporting ways. Year after year faculty are invited to share a world of high definition cretinism and corruption, and the fuckers just won't play along.
Details from Palaima's own UT:
...The head football coach at UT now makes a base salary of $2.55 million per year. By comparison, the entire instructional budget (faculty salaries and other teaching-related expenses) of UT’s number-one ranked petroleum engineering department is only $2 million. The average salaries of the 11 assistant football coaches last year easily outstripped the average salaries of full professors in our law school, the highest paid full professors at our institution.
The NCAA report says that part of the reason faculty members are "uninformed" and "biased, ... attack[ing] athletics unfairly," is that they don't understand the "hierarchical, top-down nature of campus administrations."
Faculty need to look at the campus salary pyramid and show a little respect.
UD read somewhere of a monastic order whose members, while laboring in the vineyards, repeatedly shout: "All for Jesus! All for Jesus!"
UD proposes that faculty put themselves in a more reverent mood by shouting, through their campus hours, "All for Coaches! All for Coaches!"
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Snapshots from Home|
Parents of UD
He was a penniless graduate student at Johns Hopkins, studying immunology (here's a book he and a colleague at the National Institutes of Health wrote). She was attending the now-defunct Mount Saint Agnes College in Baltimore -- she was one of two Jewish students at the Catholic women's school.
---UD thanks her technically proficient sister---
Once Again, America's|
Shows You How It's Done
A former athletic director at the University of Georgia lays it out:
When I picked up the Nov. 19 edition of the Athens Banner-Herald and read that members of the University of Georgia faculty have met once again to nitpick what's going on in athletics regarding student-athletes, their majors and their course selections, I shuddered at what we may do next to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Let's review the elements of the argument.
1.) Michel Foucault. The content of university curricula is radically subjective.
2.) Come Back Little Sheba. If we wait long enough our players will surely come back and graduate after they've chased their dreams of playing for money.
3.) Greed is Good. Games make us mucho money.
4.) The Coach Bag. Offer a major in coaching.
5.) Everybody's Doing It. Hell, we're just another shitty state school.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
An English professor at a university in Missouri (On his website, he tells his students that he wants to help them write about their "ideas, observations, fellings.") describes seeing a "glaze in the eyes" of students attending a campus Republican rally that reminded him of "the faces of those who attended the mass, fascist rallies in Germany before World War II."
Friday, November 24, 2006
Roger Ailes Lifts UD's Post Title|
Twenty-four hours after seeing a clever post title of mine -- "Fumento Mori" -- Roger Ailes tears over to his own blog and uses it, without attribution.
The University of Miami fired football coach Larry Coker, who won a national championship in 2001, after a season marked by an on-field brawl and the shooting death of a player.
People Are Dying to Get In...|
...to the most mobbed-up alma mater this side of Morristown!
[I]t seems a little extreme to compare a leading institution of higher learning to a Mafia family, but that is exactly what the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has become.
Time to haul this trash. Shut down the school.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Dadaism, Florida Style|
'Many Florida State University football fans were relieved when it was announced that the coach in charge of the team's offense had resigned. It looked like the assistant coach had taken one for the team after an embarrassing shutout loss to Wake Forest.
Duke, Alcohol, Athletics:|
Another Triple Play
The son of Duke University's athletics director will not face jail time in a boating accident that injured his father.
More Bad News|
'Every year around this time, Wheaties boxes featuring logos from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University hit store shelves just in time for the annual Oklahoma Bedlam football game.
LAS VEGAS (AP) - University Chancellor Jim Rogers has asked regents to investigate the viability of the system's football and basketball programs.
---las vegas sun---
Love for Four Beavers|
'Nearly 100 people gathered near Laurel Creek yesterday to remember four beavers trapped and killed last week by the University of Waterloo.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
From The Arizona Republic|
[A] lot of [Arizona State University] students ...can't figure out why the [tuition] bill has risen 81 percent in five years (84 percent at UA, 76 percent at NAU). Can't fathom how this year's proposed increases will push the tab nearly 98 percent higher than it was in 2002-03, when [President] Crow arrived at ASU.
UD Gives Thanks|
Google Images has two photos of him, neither of which seems right. In this one, he's far more amiable than I remember him, back in the 'seventies at Northwestern University, when for three years I took every course Erich Heller offered in the comp lit department. He was a forbidding and formal man, always in a suit, a Central European intellectual of a certain age. My age was what, nineteen, and I was your basic American barbarian. I'd never encountered anyone like him before.
In this one he's too grandfatherly looking. He was irritable; he conveyed right away his firm conviction that his undergraduate students knew shit and weren't about to do any of the heavy lifting that his lectures on Kafka, Mann, Kleist, and Rilke demanded. Although it was pointless to try with us, try he did -- his presentations in class were always passionate, intense, profoundly focused on a Duino Elegy or on a paragraph in The Trial.
I'd heard that he was a Jew who'd had to leave Europe; that he'd taught in Wales for awhile, and that he'd ended up here in Chicago, where he had a brother. His preoccupation with the fragmentation of Western culture prefigured by Kafka and then narrated by Thomas Mann was immediate, emotional, personal. Although his lectures never hinted at his own experience, it seemed to me he'd suffered some of the catastrophes this literature attempted to convey. I was thrilled by the force of his intellect and by the force of his pessimism. Also by the private suffering I, rightly or wrongly, intuited. This was teaching that mattered; this was a man who embodied the things he talked about.
Although he was in a way everything to me, I was nothing to him. Almost nothing. We had one brief conversation, after class one day. We must have found ourselves walking in the same direction. He asked how I was, and I said I was rather unhappy, because I was still in the school of journalism even though I disliked all of my journalism courses and loved all of my literature courses. "If you're unhappy there, why don't you leave?" he asked.
"Right," I replied, and walked over to the Medill School of Journalism, where I dropped out and then declared an English major.
Of course I'd been thinking about doing this for some time, but had dithered and dithered, worrying about the bad job market for English majors. It took Heller's simple statement to make me do it. For that, along with all that I learned from him, I'm grateful.
Heller made me a serious person. He gave me a focus and he offered a worldview. He was a wastelander; he surveyed ruins and wondered, without much hope, how poets might reconstitute them as buildings. His sensibility, utterly at odds with the pragmatic, optimistic American sensibility, was new and wonderful to me. He was not polite and cheery; he was evasive and aggrieved. This too was wonderful to me. I was at best a grotesque to him: a woman (he preferred men); an American; a teenager; a Jew who'd been tutored in Holocaust sentimentality rather than seriousness. It never did and now never will matter to him -- he died fifteen years ago -- how deep an impact he made on the dark-haired girl, third row back. Nonetheless, a good day to give thanks.
Pauvre Ivan Tribble.|
Not only does Prince Charles have a blog (plus video diary); "about a dozen or so [university] presidents, like Dr. McGuire [president of Washington DC's Trinity College], are vaulting the digital and generational divide and starting their own blogs."
Bob Johnson, a consultant to many universities on marketing, said he was mystified that university officials had not generally embraced blogs. Mr. Johnson said student blogs, for example, could be a “hugely effective” recruitment tool, even if they carried the implicit promise — or threat — of uncensored truth, however unflattering.
Many thanks to my student, Rachael, for forwarding this to me.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
UD's Deep Into Guy Territory Here...|
...thanks to her blogpal, Chris Lawrence. He led her to a conversation between Orson Swindle, from the sports blog Every Day Should be Saturday, and Michael Lewis, who has a book out called The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. Some excerpts:
ML: All these [big sports] schools have the smooth [academic] track for the football players–
More From Mike Holder!|
Mike Holder has a message for University of Oklahoma fans balking at paying top-dollar for Saturday's Bedlam matchup at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Then There's the |
Michigan-Ohio State Game
Despite the game's billing as one of the most important college football showdowns in recent memory, the demand for high-priced tickets may no longer be greater than the supply.
---the michigan daily---
Eleven Players in Search of an Audience|
Yessiree, time to drop in on ol' T. Boone and his boys -- his Cowboys -- at his beloved Oklahoma State University, where they do football fever like NOWHERE else!
STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State University graduate Bill Bearden has been a regular at Bedlam football games since the mid-1970's, but will not attend Saturday's OU-OSU clash at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Andrew Sullivan on Slasher Slashed|
What matters is merely the sell, which increasingly means the hype. The actual product comes last in priority. With free markets comes great freedom but also some responsibility: to publish books worth publishing, to air TV shows actually worth airing, to care about content as well as ratings and sales. Those criteria are distinguishable from what the market will reward. That distinction has been lost in many places. It is not a criticism of the market; it is merely a reminder that markets also require integrity among those who work in them. That point deserves recovering.
Add to his list universities and their many overcompensated presidents.
Monday, November 20, 2006
In the Middle...|
...is a fine young blog, featuring a group of medievalists, among them UD's colleague, Jeffrey Cohen. Well worth a visit. I'll be adding it to my bloglist soon -- and when I do, I'll tidy up the whole list, deleting inactive blogs, adding a couple of other interesting blogs, etc.
Shut Up and Eat Your Cotton|
Cotton, for thousands of years one of the most important crops for clothing and shelter, might also become a source of food.
News Corp. says it has canceled publication of the O.J. Simpson book and television special "If I Did It."
Rhetoric Heating Up
UD's written quite a lot about Europe's medieval universities, mired in the past and in no mood to change. Lately, a few people have been willing to express their anger about this.
Lecture halls at Europe's oldest university, the University of Bologna in Italy, are crumbling. French university libraries are outdated, poorly accessible and increasingly ignored.
More on the Latest Survey|
of University Presidents'
Pay, from Richard Vedder
Higher education professes to be a higher calling. We subsidize it rather than tax it. The public sacrifices to allow it to exist and flourish beyond what strictly market forces would dictate.
Don DeLillo, |
Whose Birthday is Today,
On the Writer's Counternarrative
After September 11, 2001
"The event itself has no purchase on the mercies of analogy or simile. We have to take the shock and horror as it is. But living language is not diminished. The writer wants to understand what this day has done to us. Is it too soon? We seem pressed for time, all of us. Time is scarcer now. There is a sense of compression, plans made hurriedly, time forced and distorted.
But language is inseparable from the world that provokes it. The writer begins in the towers, trying to imagine the moment, desperately. Before politics, before history and religion, there is the primal terror. People falling from the towers hand in hand. This is part of the counternarrative, hands and spirits joining, human beauty in the crush of meshed steel.
In its desertion of every basis for comparison, the event asserts its singularity. There is something empty in the sky. The writer tries to give memory, tenderness and meaning to all that howling space."
The Clueless Man...|
...whose bizarre and insulting behavior (background here) drove a brilliant woman recruit to MIT to reject MIT's job offer, has resigned his administrative position:
The famed neuroscientist at the center of a hiring controversy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is resigning as director of the research institute he created. Susumu Tonegawa, a Nobel laureate, will stay on the faculty but will focus entirely on his research.
--chronicle of higher ed--
Just Because They Can|
Why, according to the latest, much-discussed survey, are many university presidents getting compensation more and more obscene?
Because they can.
Because they don't care how much damage it does to their institution's intellectual integrity that it has a leader more interested in personal aggrandizement than the reputation of the campus. If money's being passed around, they'll take as much of it as they possibly can.
Presidents of some of the nation’s biggest public universities are closing the salary gap with their rivals at private institutions, with the number of top executives earning more than $500,000 nearly doubling, according to an annual survey of compensation by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The survey also found that seven presidents of private colleges, universities and medical schools currently receive more than $1 million in compensation.
The latest survey of 853 colleges, universities and specialized schools for subjects like medicine found that 112 paid their presidents at least $500,000. And it showed the upward spiral of compensation occurring in public institutions as well as private ones, with 42 presidents of public colleges earning $500,000 or more compared with the 23 reported in last year’s survey. The Chronicle is scheduled to make the survey public today.
At a time when New Jersey is awash in Rutgers football fever, William Dowling would appear to be fighting a lonely, Quixotic battle.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Warfare at Washington State...|
...between a couple of College Republicans and a couple of Ethnic Studies professors.
The College Republicans seem to be winning.
Professor David Leonard apologized last week for demanding that College Republicans member Daniel Schanze stop filming him during [an on-campus political] demonstration.
Voici les combattants:
Professor Leonard comes to us from Don DeLillo's White Noise.
Professor Streamas says one of his turn-ons is "world peace."
A Slow-Burning Scandal|
Compare the public university systems of our two populous, well-off, sunny states on either coast - California and Florida - and your eyes pop out of your head. One, the pride of a nation; the other, a national laughingstock.
The reason is simple: Florida's residents don't give a shit, and the legislature couldn't agree more.
UD has followed each twist of this remarkable story, including the latest one, about which a Florida newspaper columnist writes:
The board of governors of the state's university system last week approved a $1,000-a-year increase for all but the poorest UF students. The idea must still get the OK of the state Legislature if it's to go into effect next fall.
Some of this may remind you of the New York state university system's problem. There aren't any truly great SUNY campuses because the state has always refused to name a flagship and be more generous with it than with the other campuses.
When Your University Stinks to High Heaven...|
...of corruption, you should expect this sort of problem to rise from the dumpster.
A former project coordinator at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has sued the embattled medical school over her termination this year.
Raro and Beautiful...|
...thoughts on academic blogging from Oso, an English professor who (rare bear!) writes with elegance.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Regular as Clockwork|
BOBBY KNIGHT may be the poster boy for obnoxious conduct among college coaches, but he's hardly alone. Flip the channels on most weekends and there will be a parade of red-faced coaches ranting, raving and storming at referees or somebody else.
---beloit daily news---
Thursday, November 16, 2006
University of Texas Pays|
An Extra Hundred Thousand to Cover
Its Godzillatron's Ass
'The Godzillatron is turning out to be more expensive than expected. The same goes for the cost of relocating live oaks, installing fire-protection sprinklers and other work at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
Yes, yes, I don't seem to have gotten the graphics up there about Jenny's and my forthcoming book to look very pretty. I'm working on it.
Update: That's better.
|Milton Friedman Has Died.|
More on the NCAA Tax Exemption|
[T]he NCAA budget for a recent fiscal year was just north of $520M and close to $500M of that money came from TV rights to March Madness.
---sports fan magazine---
As Long As We're|
On the Subject
Of Academic Heroes...
...there's Tom Palaima.
The University of Texas at Austin NCAA sports programs have been in the national spotlight. In early October, the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee sent the president of the NCAA a letter containing 25 detailed questions about funding practices and educational values in big-time college athletics.
Abusing a Few Hundred Young Men|
From the Washington Times:
If Charlie Rangel and his Democratic tax men are seriously looking for someone to squeeze, they might consider the NCAA.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Max S. Baucus, the Montana Democrat who will become the committee's new chairman in January, announced plans to hold a hearing on December 5 on potential tax abuses by colleges and universities. According to committee staff members, the hearing will not focus on problems with big-time sports programs, but will likely touch on them.
UD is going to try to attend. She doesn't teach that day. Instablogging, if she gets in, would be nice, but she doesn't know whether congressional rules will allow her to...
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
'Paris [Hilton’s] presumption comes off as especially obnoxious in this hard-nosed, meritocratic age. Who is she to flaunt her easy privilege, her mindless entitlement, her careless idleness? One reason her “celebutard” IQ grates on us so much—“Could anyone be this stupid?” Newsweek asked in its review of The Simple Life—is that it comes at a time when we believe brains, or at least Ivy League degrees, are a necessary precondition for legitimate success. The panic over fancy diplomas dominates domestic life for many Americans and seems to spare almost no one, even the sons and daughters of the very rich. Evidently Paris didn’t have the gray matter to do what so many of our country’s young heiresses do these days: that is, go to Brown.'
Scenes from the Upcoming|
'Mr. Brand, let us know here today
NCAA: Nobody Does it Better|
From Slam Online:
Chappelle’s Show made me chuckle. Borat made titter. But no one knows funny quite like the NCAA. Here’s the latest proof…
Western Kentucky University:|
Emery Boyle-Scott, a student journalist at Youngstown State, explains why Western Kentucky's decision to go Division 1-A was really stupid:
The Hilltoppers had no idea just how good they had it.
Not that I understand one tenth of what Emery's saying here (don't explain it to me!), but it's clear he understands some of the deeper reasons why WKU is being dumb.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
A Grim Town|
Longtime readers know that UD grew up in Garrett Park, Maryland. She went to college and graduate school in Chicago, then lived on Capitol Hill in DC for many years. But eventually she returned to Garrett Park, and has now lived there for ten years. She covers Town Council meetings for the local newspaper, the Garrett Park Bugle.
Last night's monthly Town Council meeting was grim. Only a couple of hours before the meeting, a Garrett Park boy was killed, hit by a car on the town's only thoroughfare, Strathmore Avenue. Here's the Washington Post article about it.
Shortly after nightfall Monday, Luke Carter-Schelp and two friends set out to cross a crowded Montgomery County road. He made it halfway across Strathmore Avenue, then slipped on leaves, falling into oncoming commuter traffic.
A Diplomatic, Well-Bred |
Brown University Student...
...begs to ask, in the campus newspaper, fundamental questions about that school's ripoff curriculum:
"At present, courses in many departments appear to be based merely on the preferences of the faculty...Brown faculty members like to hug the shorelines of their specialties... [M]ost fundamentally, is maximizing students' choices the only criterion for the curriculum's success?"
This student is beginning to grasp the dimensions of the scam. Throw infinite disconnected numbers and types of courses at students in order to make it look as though you're responding to consumer desire for variety ("maximizing students' choices"). If students fuss, toss yet more courses in. Whatever. What the hell. More choice.
Slowly it dawns on some of the students that they're leaving school with bits and pieces of exotica (often corresponding to professors' specializations) and no real education ("I've been able to become an expert on many subfields, but it has been difficult to find broad classes that cut across the curriculum."). It's a scandal that'll go on and on, though, for the institution is powerful fond of it ...
The Good Ship Scholarship|
Stick a bunch of moneyed kids from all over the world on a cruise ship. Do not have a curriculum. Assess their work in terms of how much more culturally sensitive they've become after a $20,000 semester on a luxury cruise.
Get the sort of faculty who enjoy the idea of not having to teach (they'll just be around... facilitating experiential whatever...) while getting paid to cruise to Tahiti. Put it all together, and you get...
The Scholar Ship!
So far, this new venture has produced,
in the Miami Herald, one of
the worst graphics UD's ever seen.
It's also produced some mighty fancy descriptive prose from one journalist, who calls it a "floating beacon of erudition."
And it might turn out to be all rigorous and serious and all. The organizers insist that "they plan to offer serious educational programs -- not a booze cruise."
WRITE IN UD|
The Washington Post education columnist announces a blog-judging contest:
I hope readers will e-mail me at [email protected] and Gardner at [email protected] the links to their favorite education blogs -- no more than five per reader, please, and I would love you to rank them in your order of preference. Gardner and I will look them over and reveal our favorites in a future column. He and I have different views on some key issues and different tastes in writing styles, so entries should not be at any disadvantage no matter what their slant or tone.
New Jersey's University of Medicine and Dentistry:|
And getting stronger by the day.
Today's New York Times:
Nearly a year after avoiding prosecution for Medicaid fraud by consenting to have a federal monitor investigate its finances, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is engaging in “illegal activity” that “persists to this day,” according to a report from the monitor released on Monday.
What will it take for the state to shut down this organized criminal activity?
Monday, November 13, 2006
Not only is University of Tennessee Chattanooga Professor Fred Ruhlman about to be shocked to find that he unconsciously plagiarized from a book about the Civil War; he's also about to be shocked to find that he was the innocent victim of a diploma mill.
First, the plagiarism, as reported in a local paper:
A New Hampshire author is alleging a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga adjunct instructor used plagiarized material in his recently published book.
Here's Fred's university page, on which he tells us he graduated from a school whose unusual name should have caused his colleagues to do a little checking. UD did the checking for them.
Another Reason Government Control|
of Universities is a Terrible Idea
From the International Herald Tribune:
Vienna University Seeks to Expel Pro-Nazi Board Member
Who knows why the Education Minister insisted on a Nazi? But isn't the real problem the university's absolute lack of autonomy?
Fine, fine! All you had to do was ask!
'Austria's education minister said Tuesday she planned to dismiss a supervisory board member at Vienna's Medical University for a speech honoring a Nazi air force officer.'
UD Very Seldom Singles Out...|
...university heroes. She is doing so today.
His name is Professor Robert L. Dietle,
and he teaches history
at Western Kentucky University.
A chronicler of modern European thought, Professor Dietle has fought and fought to keep his benighted school from throwing much of its money, and its students' money, into football, rather than into desperately needed academics.
Dietle and most of the rest of the faculty voted against taking one of the most impoverished and academically backward schools in the state to expensive, corrupt, and often disastrous Division I-A status; but pretty much everyone else on campus thought it was a hell of an idea, so it's going to happen.
It's bad enough that WKU has done this surpassingly stupid thing to itself. Far worse is the way its trustees told dissenting voices at the discussion before the vote on the issue to shut up, and then indeed simply shut them up, arbitrarily closing off debate. The same trustees are now attacking Dietle in the press as the devil incarnate.
And of course I guess he would be, devoted as he is to intellect rather than games... UD is always a little shocked -- even though she knows how anti-intellectual this country is -- when violent anti-intellectuality breaks out among university presidents and trustees. She's seen it at the University of Colorado and she's seen it at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas... she's seen it at lots of universities. But she's still amazed. These are our universities.
Few faculty have the heart to sit in the same room as campus fuckwits and watch them destroy the life of the mind. Dietle was willing to do so, even though he must have known it was a lost cause. For this, UD salutes him most admiringly.
Long Article in New York Magazine...|
...on America's happiness hustlers, quite a number of them university professors. The author quotes Adam Phillips saying what must be said:
"Happiness is fine as a side effect,” says Adam Phillips, the British psychoanalyst and lay philosopher whose latest work, Going Sane, examines functionality and well-being, but from a much more literary and ruminative perspective. “It’s something you may or may not acquire, in terms of luck. But I think it’s a cruel demand. It may even be a covert form of sadism. Everyone feels themselves prone to feelings and desires and thoughts that disturb them. And we’re being persuaded that by acts of choice, we can dispense with these thoughts. It’s a version of fundamentalism.
Some readers may be reminded, along these lines, of Robert Nozick's famous "experience machine" argument.
If you're after a more serious consideration of happiness, check out this just-released book:
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Utility: Happiness in Philosophical and Economic Thought by Charles and Anthony Kenny.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Four years ago, the University of Northern Colorado upgraded its NCAA sports affiliations to Division I.
Note to Kay Norton: Time to do lunch with Donna Shalala.
Meanwhile, here's a letter from a UNC grad to the local newspaper:
Someone needs to take control of University of Northern Colorado
Up Close and Personal With|
Two Fine Academic Officers
Selena Roberts, New York Times:
"Hotheads on Parade” begins this weekend when teams from college basketball’s repository for bullies — the Big 12 Conference, or the Notorious B.I.G. 12 — tip off with the habitually ticked off.
Congress is making noise about taking away bigtime college football and basketball's not-for-profit status, a status which rewards fat and corrupt programs with government subsidies.
I'd be surprised if anything happens along these lines anytime soon; but the congressional noise itself may draw people's attention to the ever-viler world of the major university teams.
Meanwhile, in an article pondering the subsidy, a money columnist at CNN notes a looming fiasco in university sports that'll have them taking even more than they already do from academics in order to stay in the game:
... [T]he current college football season will see an extra game, and for the major college programs, an extra 100,000 tickets being sold. [C]ollege basketball is squeezing in extra games as well. [C]onferences like the Big Ten [are] starting [their] own cable network.
"A Rather Startling Arrogance"|
Elegantly written, elegantly argued summary of the
sordid Andrei Shleifer case at Economic Principals.
Thanks to Cold Spring Shops for the link.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Snapshots from Home:|
Apostles of O'Neill
[ud 's comments in green]
'... They live on quiet 35th Street NW, in a stately section of Georgetown, where [Georgetown University student] Brian O'Neill Jr., 20, and his roommates moved in August and promptly held pool parties so loud the university and police were called.
MORE FROM UD'S STUDENT|
ABOUT JULES HILBERT,
POPULAR CULTURE'S CURRENT
REPRESENTATION OF THE
'The English professor (Dustin Hoffman, known in the movie Stranger Than Fiction as Jules Hilbert) is actually very WHITE NOISE-esque. [Note to UD's readers: This is a reference to Don DeLillo's novel, White Noise, virtually all of whose professor characters are popular culture specialists.] We never see him teaching a class, he has a television in his office that is always on, and the only time we ever see him read, he has Sue Grafton in his hands.
Three Postcards from Florida|
UD has often wondered whether the students in Florida's shameful public university system know how ill-served they are. Here's a strong-minded and extremely well-written answer to that question, from the University of Florida student newspaper:
Don't trust [President] Machen
'Time for a vote of no confidence from the Board of Trustees. FIU's President for Life [Mitch] Maidique's incompetence makes the International Herald Tribune.
'Dear Mitch, I wanted you to know why I won't be in the stadium Nov. 11 when Florida International University plays its next home football game.
---from miami today ---
The Importance of|
Reading in Context
'There cannot be many Americans who are unaware that Jim Webb's novels include steamy sex scenes. During what was one of the most bitter Senate races in recent history, the campaign team of George Allen, the Republican senator running for re-election, attempted to tarnish Mr Webb's reputation by flooding the internet with salacious passages from his books. ... [Mr Allen], ... whose presidential ambitions are in tatters, now has enough time on his hands to read Mr Webb's novels in context.'
UD Is Aware...|
...that the new film, Stranger than Fiction, features an English professor -- described by many reviewers as "eccentric," natch -- but hasn't pulled herself together to go to the thing yet.
Already, however, more than one student in her Contemporary American Literature course this semester has emailed her, urging her to see it, because she'll be reminded of the class (and of her eccentric self?).
UD enjoys watching the pathetic English professor character as it appears in popular film. She'll blog about this latest representative of the breed as soon as she sees the thing.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The President's helicopter just flew right by my office window.
Or was it Nancy Pelosi's?
Sad ongoing story at the University of Mississippi, where a drunk and drugged student killed a campus police officer. The officer was trying to get the guy to stop driving, so he could arrest him. The guy kept driving, dragging the officer to his death.
When lurid, high-profile things of this sort happen, university leaders decide they'd better do something. Ole Miss has arrested a bunch of underage drinkers, and it has announced a new, nastier alcohol policy.
The university and Oxford have come under fire in recent weeks for alcohol use by students, particularly during football weekends. The issue came to a head Oct. 21 when University officer Robert Langley died after an encounter with a student during a traffic stop.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
[A Regular University Diaries Feature]
Two Formulaic Writers:
Which is Better?
[thanks to whitehouse.org]
Here we have a passage from a Wild West romance novel.
When judging prose that means to be formulaic, prose that wants to follow the conventions of an established and popular genre, we need to ask about its adequacy to our generic expectations.
The writing, judged in this way, has certain strengths. The antediluvial cliche, "wave of revulsion," is excellent, as is the Snidely Whiplash dialogue: "feisty, ain't she... that kind's the most fun..." We get our money's worth here.
But there are problems, in particular with the scab.
The convention, in scenes like this one, is that the woman is repelled not really by the grossness of the man, but by his overpowering masculinity, with which, as a mincing little belle, she's unfamiliar (see Rhett, Scarlet). Thus she initially, defensively, proudly, hypocritically, reads this authentic rough maleness as grossness and pushes it away; but the man's insistence that she take sex on his terms changes her from Miss Prissy to Natural Woman.
The scab, however, really is gross, so none of this works.
It can only work if this novel means truly to depart from romance conventions and be, as Lynne Cheney's novel, Sisters, seems to want to be, a lesbian Wild West romance. Then it makes sense to make men scab-ridden dogs who deserve to be dumped for women.
Yet in making its case for homoeroticism, the novel shifts genres, from bodice-ripper to Louisa May Alcott. Here, it evokes the utopia that awaits:
"Let us go away together, away from the anger and the imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you do your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl. . . ."
This formulaic novel fails not only because it wavers between formulae, but because it fails to make lesbianism competitive even with scabby heterosexuality. Cross-stitching in retirement is an unattractive option for someone who has bought a book that presents itself -- as Cheney's does -- as a hard-breathing romance novel.
"[He] could see Jawbone and Ashley Asthmatic [two guards at a Vietnamese prison camp] napping together in the grass. They faced inward, their arms entwined. It looked like they were masturbating each other. It didn't surprise him. … It was common to see men holding hands, embracing, playing with each other. Some of them [the guards] had wanted him. He could tell in those evanescent moments between his bao cao bow, the obligatory deference when a guard entered his cell, and the first word or blow that followed it… Quick, grinding voices, turgid with repressed passion. An exploratory reaching of the hand near his groin…”
This second formulaic novel lies squarely in the rigors-of-war genre. Its rough, tell-all disposition is directly opposed to the oblique and sweet romance. We expect -- I think the cliche is "searing honesty" -- as such novels place young men in bloody and bizarre settings and follow them as they survive, changed forever.
In the scene above, we have, instead of female eroticism, male, in the context of a Vietnamese prison. In order to fulfill our expectations, this scene must ring true; it must feature exoticism; and it must convey a lack of fear on the part of our hero. And this it all does, quite nicely.
My only complaint is the use of the word "turgid." Turgid, an absurd-sounding word, is used to name the insane superstud in Dr. Strangelove (General Buck Turgidson). Along with satire, pornography is turgid's natural habitat, and it is best to leave it there.
"[Fogarty] has been thinking of the firm, springy skin and the sweet smells of a young Filipina woman named Maria in whose bed he had spent three nights almost twenty years ago. . . . She was a deliciously bad young woman. . . . On the second night, he had brought her a box of Godiva chocolates . . . . he had awakened to find her in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet with her knees underneath her chin, eating chocolates and counting her rosary beads as she prayed."
This is actually quite good, although "deliciously bad" sounds suspiciously like G.B. Shaw's "deliciously low" in Pygmalion. Again, it's got what we went to the book for: exoticism, reality... And even a little bit more, for that final image of the girl on the toilet eating chocolates is spectacular. I've never imagined a scene like that before, so it's got a provocative freshness about it... the sort of thing we go to far more ambitious novels for. I'd rewrite the last sentence, though, by taking out "as she prayed." We know that's what the beads are for, and the sentence is punchier without those final words -- ending on "rosary beads" is stronger.
These, of course, are among the scenes from James Webb's novels that George Allen revealed to Virginians, in order to prompt their moral disgust and get them to vote for him. Now that that shabby trick has failed, UD considers the passages as writing, pure and simple, and finds them really not bad. Not good... But as formulaic fiction goes, better than respectable.
In the contest, then, between the Vice-President's wife and Senator Webb, it's Webb by a longshot.
Careful What You Wish For|
The victory of Gallaudet University's students in forcing an incoming president they didn't like to leave has brought serious scrutiny to the school.
Faculty vice chair Lois Bragg said the administration has been spinning bad news for years, "trying to hide from the public evidence of low academic standards and absolutely risible admissions policies. . . . The administration has lost all credibility in the campus community."
Graduation rates are terrible:
[Gallaudet's own] 42 percent [figure] is an estimate meant to include any student who graduates, regardless of how long it takes. Graduation rates are more commonly based on the number of students who graduate within six years. By that measure, Gallaudet says it averages a 28 percent rate.
With medical advances, fewer and fewer students want or need to go to a school for the deaf:
Gallaudet has been recruiting more aggressively to keep enrollment up, Kimmel said. Beyond medical advances, federal laws now enable more deaf students to attend mainstream schools. Those laws have been "a double-edged sword," she said.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Webb : 1,170,564 50%|
Allen : 1,162,717 49%
"Can there be any doubt," said Mr. UD to UD this morning, "that your silly comment about Churchill made all the difference?"
UD Writes About...|
... The Faculty Bench in this morning's Inside Higher Education.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
'MIAMI FOOTBALL PLAYER
All Manner of Venality|
College sports are so scandal rife, herculean muscle must be applied just to compile a list of recent NCAA scandals. Merely listing all categories of college sports scandals is exhausting. NCAA athletes and coaches, even professors who cater to college athletes, have industriously devised all manner of venality to further the cause of victory for home teams. There are all sorts of scandals: hazing, sex scandals, grades, recruitment, point shaving, and game fixing. Throw in gambling and rape, and you haven't even begun to list them all.
---bonnie erbe, us news and world report---
"The blogosphere really has the potential, when it works, to completely decentralize the conversation," says John Odum, a former Democratic political operative who pens Green Mountain Daily. "Who has the clout and who has the power and all of those types of perceptions are usually channeled through the traditional media and then to the public. Blogs break that out. They allow an avenue into that flow of perception and information."
---times argus, vermont---
Too Eager to Post This|
To Come Up With a Title
'When Charlotte Catholic's boys' soccer team got to Forestview High School in Gastonia on Saturday night for an N.C. 3A playoff game, the Cougars heard something over the public address system they never would've expected:
UD in This Morning's|
Palm Beach Post
...'Empty seats have outnumbered spectators at every home game this season at [Florida Atlantic University's] 20,000-seat Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
Innovation Village, Ho!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Another UD INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION Piece|
Y'all know how much UD likes bigtime university sports programs. She's written a love letter to them for Inside Higher Ed. It'll appear this Wednesday.
America's Worst University|
Deals with Loss
“I knew right when we lost (to Tennessee) I was going to have to deal with a fight,” said Jamon Kessler, a University senior and a doorman downtown. “And sure enough, an hour later, I had to kick somebody out,” he said.
--red and black--
Two Articles of Interest in Today's|
George Washington University
The ego being what it is, let's start with this one, which talks about GW professors who blog:
"I was struck by things at universities that seemed to be operating wrong," said Soltan, who receives about 700 visitors a day to her blog. "And I wanted to think of ways that I could contribute to make American universities better."
The article features a couple of other GW edubloggers, and has sensible things to say.
Then there's this headline:
OFFICIALS SAY CNN RANKING
The article goes on to note that GW's fixed-tuition approach means that over four years GW students may pay less than others who will deal with yearly rises in tuition. Even granting this, however, GW's tuition is extremely high relative to almost all other colleges and universities. The real question involves quality; and as long as GW is over-dependent on part-timers, for instance, that question remains somewhat open. I've watched GW's general quality rise dramatically over a couple of decades; but when you charge that much, it makes you vulnerable to the very highest expectations.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Richard Gilman, 1923 - 2006|
from the nytimes obit:
“I don’t think of myself as a critic or teacher either, but simply — and at the obvious risk of disingenuousness — as someone who teaches, writes drama criticism (and other things) and feels that the American compulsion to take your identity from your profession, with its corollary of only one trade to a practitioner, may be a convenience to society but is burdensome and constricting to yourself.”
What's Some |
What a disgusting way for a university to make a major decision -- by closing off debate… by stopping the exchange of ideas.
A columnist in a Kentucky newspaper marks the first steps of Western Kentucky University's ascension to one of the country's great universities.
The New York Times on Borat:
'Whether you rush for the exits or laugh until your lungs ache will depend both on your appreciation for sight gags, eyebrow gymnastics, sustained slapstick and vulgar malapropisms, and on whether you can stomach the shock of smashed frat boys, apparently sober rodeo attendees and one exceedingly creepy gun-store clerk, all taking the toxic bait offered to them by their grinning interlocutor.'
UD's Sixteen Year Old Daughter on Borat:
"There was a man in the row in front of us who laughed so hard he jumped out of his seat and had to stand in the aisle for a couple of minutes."
“The Web is far and away the most important development in journalism — and almost every other aspect of life — since I finished school and started working,” he went on. “When Microsoft hired me to put out what became Slate, the economy and the immediacy were what appealed to me about the Internet. Imagine: there were tiny businesses in suburban shopping malls that could ‘publish’ the equivalent of The New Republic (where I then worked) and it would cost less than $10,000 a year.”
--michael kinsley, new york times--
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Ohio State Gears Up|
For Showdown with
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Three convenience stores near the Ohio State campus have stopped selling glass bottles of domestic beer at the university's request.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Academic Evasion Centers|
'At the University of Tennessee in the late 1990s, a tenured English professor, Linda Bensel-Meyers, found that athletic tutors were doing too much of the work themselves and that the athletic department had the influence to change grades. Bensel-Meyers was ostracized for bringing her findings public, and she later left for the University of Denver.
--new york times--
Denice Denton: The Medical Examiner's Report|
UD's guess last June that Denton was suffering from paranoia seems to have been correct. From yesterday's Mercury News:
Former University of California-Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton was suffering from severe depression and was in the care of a psychiatrist last June when she plunged 33 stories to her death from a San Francisco high-rise, according to the San Francisco medical examiner's report released today.
Denton was clearly mad when the psychiatric institute released her. Did she insist on being released? Was the hospital obliged to release her if she insisted? Or did someone at the hospital think she was well enough to go home?
Eydie, A GW Friend of UD's...|
...tells her that Eydie's mother enjoyed watching UD interviewed on Fox News the other night. So I guess that happened too.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Rewards of Teaching|
UD's students understand her
enthusiasms. They send her photos
of themselves in front of old buildings
on Great Jones Street. And they send
her, as Jason just did, photos of
themselves with James Joyce.
Bad Jokes Travel Fast|
1925 - 2006
'[I]t was an unconventional routine he stuck to: sleep until noon; read and think in bed for another hour or so; lunch with Rose around 1:30; run errands, deal with the mail, listen to music, daydream and generally ease into work until 4. Then up to the workroom to write for four hours, perfecting each paragraph until 200 or 300 words are completed; have cocktails and dinner with the family and friends at 8 or 9; and stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, drinking and reading and smoking and listening to music.'
Von Hoffman Vents...|
...on the subject of overpaid university presidents. But all he does is vent.
If you're after more than hot air, there's always UD. Type university president in the search engine up there, and breathe deep.
Fond Memories of Last Weekend...|
...at America's worst university.
This may be as good a time as any to rethink big-time college sports. The University of Georgia could begin the process of a new look and possible overhaul. As football season winds down, the Dawgs are ripe for change.
As Long as We're on the Subject...|
... of horrible European universities...
Longtime readers will recall UD's description of her semester teaching at the University of Toulouse - Le Mirail. Now the latest Economist compares Le Mirail to the other Toulouse university, where UD's husband had an appointment, Toulouse I Sciences Sociales.
The Chronicle of Higher Ed summarizes the article nicely:
For years, none of France's public universities has numbered among the world's top 40 in rankings conducted by Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the reason for that poor showing is the system's overcentralized, bureaucratic model, writes Sophie Pedder, the magazine's Paris bureau chief.
The Chronicle diplomatically omits a comment that the shit who runs the Toulouse II show makes to the Economist:
Daniel Filatre, Toulouse II - Le Mirail's president, does not consider [all of] this to be his problem: "This is a left-wing university which has a social project," he explains. "It is not an institution designed for professional training."
...as UD told a George Washington University newspaper reporter this afternoon, when he interviewed her about blogging, never forget that with all of their flaws, American universities are far, far better than what most of the rest of the world has to offer.
Recall, for instance, UD's recent series of posts about the pathetic European university system. The worst of the worst was Greece (with Italy a close second). Here's an update:
The head of a panel of academics that put together proposals on tertiary sector reforms earlier this year criticized the government yesterday for pushing back a draft bill introducing changes to universities.
Got that? Introduction of private universities.
Ever Since UD's Notorious Washington Post Comment...|
...appeared ("Webb's novels [should not be seen] as indicative of his views, any more than voters in England should have been deterred by some of Winston Churchill's more shocking writing."), she has been overwhelmed with requests from people who want to know precisely what shocking writing she has in mind.
She was thinking not of Churchill's fiction, but some passages from his journals.
August 12, 1951
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
As James Webb Overtakes George Allen...|
... the Independent Women's Forum adds to the mystique of female mathematical illiteracy:
"Ah, I fear that Margaret R. Soltan, English professor, has just won Allen a few more votes."
Update: Shut your ears, girls, it's another smut peddler!
The charge by assorted gentry that James Webb is not qualified to serve as a U.S. senator from Virginia because there are lewdnesses in his published fiction rattles one's faith in democracy. A few questions need to be examined, beginning with the primary charge: smutty passages in Webb's fiction.
William F. Buckley
"All I know is that, up until just a few years ago, I blithely, and perhaps a bit fatuously, used to tell students and younger colleagues who asked how to get ahead in our odd occupation that they should stay loose, take risks, resist the cleared path, avoid careerism, go their own way, and that if they did so, if they kept at it and remained alert, optimistic, and loyal to the truth, my experience was that they could ... have a valuable life, and nonetheless prosper. I don't do that any more."
A Maryland Rough Rider...|
... on the beach for Delaware's Sea Witch
Festival, October 2006.
Sea, Sky, More Sky|
--- rehoboth, october 06 ---
Fellini on the Beach|
-- sea witch festival
rehoboth beach, delaware
october 2006 --