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UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gallaudet University
Now on Probation.

Background to this sad story here.

'Gallaudet University has been placed on probation by its accrediting agency.

The move by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a warning sign that problems persist months after protests shut down the school for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Gallaudet is struggling to meet standards set by the commission. It remains accredited but has until November 2008 to show that it's in compliance with eight of 14 standards, including its leadership, integrity and retention.

Last year, before new President Robert Davila arrived, the school was shut down for days because of protesters angry about former president Designee Jane Fernandes and other issues on campus. Fernandes' appointment was later terminated by the board of trustees.'
{NOTE: This SOS post has already appeared at UD's branch campus, Inside Higher Education. She reproduces it here in order to add it to her SOS-labeled posts, now all gathered in one place. Just click on SOS at the bottom of this post to get to UD's Scathing Online Schoolmarm collection.}

Scathing Online Schoolmarm

A vain man struggles with the threat to his self-importance that student evaluations represent.

His writing, in the New York Times Magazine, is a good example of something UD's written about on her main campus, in relation to another New York Times writer, Jane Brody: If you're not a very good writer, your writing may reveal unpleasant elements of your character. These elements, which you of course do not wish to reveal, but which your inability to control your writing will out, may fatally distract your reader from the content of your argument.

The writer, David Holmberg, a man of the left, has strong political views. A piece he wrote for The Nation elicited a furious letter from someone he interviewed about the Emmett Till case:

Holmberg provided misinformation to your readers by not accurately quoting me and, in several instances, by misquoting me regarding my supposed subjects--from conversations that were strictly off the record. One individual erroneously mentioned by name in the troubling piece later contacted me by phone. "This article has ruined my family!" he said. I never identified any individual when speaking to Holmberg, neither confirming nor denying his speculative assumptions. I certainly did not quote any source by name at any time. Holmberg's actions have cast The Nation in a dreadful light.

Holmberg's response makes pretty clear that he considers what he pompously calls his responsibility to "history itself" to be a higher moral imperative than niceties like source protection:

... I'm sympathetic with his concerns, but I don't consider it journalistically responsible to indefinitely withhold possibly important information about a historically significant case. And as a practical matter, it's not possible in a competitive journalistic environment.... As for compromising or jeopardizing his sources, that's a risk journalists take every day when they decide to publish a story. It can't be used as a permanent excuse for sitting on information that's vital to the public, and in this case to the possible administration of justice and to history itself.

Here's the New York Times piece:

We know, aphoristically, about sticks and stones breaking our bones and words being comparatively harmless. But those of us who work with words professionally may be especially susceptible to etymological wounds. [Already a bit strange. Etymology refers to the study of the history of words. UD's been wounded by words, sure, but never by the study of the history of words.] I have been a working journalist and a part-time professor, both of which harbor a verbal vulnerability factor — or should I call it a linguistic punishment index?

During four decades or so in the journalistic trenches [cliche], I tried to develop a resilience to tough critiques by editors, reporters, readers; that seemed de rigueur to protect one’s sanity. Then I started teaching journalism, as an adjunct professor at New York University for four years and at Drew University in Madison, N.J., for one year. And much to my chagrin, I realized again just how hurtful words can be. As the focus of student evaluations, I suddenly became the reader, not the writer, and I started to react as other readers might when they think they have been wounded in print. [The writer wants us to believe that the notorious rough language of adults in newspaper and magazine offices is less wounding than student evaluation form language. UD finds this really unpersuasive.]

An established tool of student empowerment in American higher education, student evaluations are a staple in all classes at the end of each semester. A journalist-professor friend who is less than enamored of teaching caustically refers to them as “customer service.” Translation: He has been burned by his students. But his larger meaning is that higher education, like American society in general, is increasingly market-driven, and by his jaded reckoning a student and his parents are not markedly different from Harry the Striving Suburbanite roaming the aisles of Home Depot. [This is a guy who wants to write caustic American satire. His horrible writing only manages a sneer.]

Student response to the product must be quantified — a college education is a product for which someone is paying upward of $40,000 a year. Just as television executives cannot assume that people are watching their channels and approving of what they put on the air, the powers-that-be in higher education cannot afford to be less than responsive to the reactions of their fussy postadolescent clientele. [I haven't marked all the cliches this writer has already used, but I trust you've noted them. The writer's effort to reduce the whole business of course evaluation to profit-driven baby-sitting has failed, but he is certainly succeeding in drawing a personal character sketch.]

So you have course evaluations. First, there are the forms. Students fill in blanks to rate the correctness of several statements about their classroom experiences. Here are three typical statements from a Drew University evaluation form: “Sequence of course material was logical and systematically organized.” “Instructor was clear and understandable in giving explanations.” “Instructor seemed open to and interested in the concerns of students.”

Then students are encouraged to add written comments — anonymously, as with the forms. Take your best shot, or give credit where credit is due: those are the implied options. In my pedagogical innocence, I failed to realize at first how much impact evaluations could have, especially those scrawled comments that ranged from harsh indictments (“Professor Holmberg is the worst professor I’ve had at N.Y.U.”) to high praise (“Professor Holmberg is a great editor.”) [How much impact they could have on him, that is. Most professors, receiving empty generalities like these about how great or horrendous they are, dismiss them.]

The “worst professor” comment came, I am virtually certain, from a schmoozing student who curried favor with me throughout the semester. But during our one-on-one semester’s-end interview that I had with all my students, he said sarcastically about this presumably helpful ritual: “Are you trying to be a talk-show host, or what?” [Put aside the image of this man squirreling about in search of the identities of students who hurt his self-esteem. This is Scathing Online Schoolmarm, not Scathing Online Freudian. Note only his deadly overuse of adverbs: virtually, sarcastically, presumably...]

Only in retrospect did I recognize the underlying hostility of this silly remark. (As always, incidentally, I determined this unnamed student’s probable identity by carefully and compulsively analyzing the few facts the students gave about themselves on the forms — the grades they expected in the class, for instance. It was a pathetic sight, no doubt: the old, aggrieved journalist-professor poring over the slings and arrows from youth in bloom who had penetrated his sheltered universe.) [Again, ain't this weird? What sort of journalist gives a shit about what pishers say? And maybe the writer means these excruciating cliches -- youth in bloom, slings and arrows -- to be ironic, but it's just not coming off.]

The bottom-line appraisal of me at N.Y.U. by a supervising faculty member: I was a “fair to good” teacher. That was probably an equitable assessment, and as far as I could determine, it was based largely on the senior faculty’s evaluation of evaluations. At N.Y.U. and Drew, I was not subjected to classroom visits and critiques by full-time faculty members. So it doesn’t appear to be an exaggeration to say that in higher education the students often make the call on the caliber of their teachers. [A confused paragraph. If the appraisal was fair, why does he go on to say that it wasn't fair, since it was based not on adult visits to his classrooms, but exclusively on student evaluation?]

Sad to say, because Drew is such an exemplary school that in one of my three classes there I experienced the worst psychic injury in my university stint — from words I thought were severely lacking in intellectual openness and self-knowledge. I began the semester with what I hoped was an illuminating discussion of the digital revolution and its impact on print journalism. And throughout the term, as I had done routinely at N.Y.U., I used The Times as an educational tool. I tried very hard to convey the value and enormously important traditions of print, of quality journalism. [See how all of his intensifiers and qualifiers and cliches not only muck up his prose, but somehow evoke for us a man whose pomposity and offended sense of personal greatness create self-involved, petulant forms of expression?]

But in their evaluations, 4 out of 11 students ignored my efforts [Well, you've told us you tried "very hard," but we're not compelled to believe you. Maybe you didn't. Maybe those four students were right. Your writing hasn't been able to make us like and trust you enough to put us securely on your side in the case.] and attacked my journalistic and professorial credibility in what was for me an unprecedented fashion. They said I showed a “liberal bias” by using The Times in class (perhaps echoing the political bent of their parents, as the young are wont to do) [Or perhaps his students noted what Holmberg himself does not note in his bio for this piece -- his most high-profile writing has been for The Nation...], and two students said — glibly and absurdly in my view — that the class was of no benefit because of my perceived bias. One said bluntly, “I learned nothing from this class.” Another — very likely a medical student with whom I worked more than the rest because she was outside her field — said that “I did not learn anything in this class besides a strong dislike of The N.Y. Times. There was no journalistic background taught.”

That last remark was so stunningly and obviously wrongheaded [Pause a moment with me to collect our last batch of mad-as-hell adverbs: glibly, absurdly, bluntly, stunningly, obviously... See what I mean about how prose can do you in? The guy's sputtering with outraged self-love.] that I nearly tore up the evaluation sheet. An overreaction to be avoided, of course. My always-supportive English department chairman calmed me down, and with the acuity of a true educator put student evaluations in perspective. She explained that there was an ambivalence about New York implicit in the suburban students’ comments, in addition to the political component. I thanked her for her wise counsel and began bracing myself for another set of evaluations: this summer I’ll be teaching a course in introductory journalism at Drew.

My heart goes out to the department chair. Here's a paranoid furious man doing personal searches on students who've offended him, practically tearing up evaluation sheets, getting pretty wretched course evaluations again and again... What the hell can she say? She's gotta think fast. Why do his students dislike him? The reasons are as obvious to her as they are to us, but... uh... no, it's suburban bias against the big city! Plus they're clones of their right-wing parents! Calm down, man!


Friday, June 29, 2007

Fax, Fiction

As ever, eventually an anonymous tip comes along. This time, it came via fax:

'The longtime director of the Detroit Zoo could lose his $175,000-a-year job after acknowledging that he never received a doctorate in zoology, officials say.

"I feel terrible. It's difficult to face now," Ron Kagan said. "I'm sorry and I know it's damaged the zoo."

The issue came up last Thursday when the Detroit Zoo Society's board of directors received an anonymous fax stating that Kagan had misrepresented his academic qualifications on his resume, zoo spokeswoman Patricia Mills said.

Zoo Society Chairman Gail Warden said Kagan, 55, admitted it when confronted about the letter.

Kagan said he completed his course work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem during the mid-1980s, but was never formally granted the degree. He returned to Israel twice but couldn't settle the matter and eventually gave up, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported.

Kagan holds a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Massachusetts. He received a master's degree from Hebrew University in 1980, Mills said.

The zoo director's job does not require a doctorate, but an executive committee was scheduled to meet today to decide whether to recommend action to the full board, Warden said.

"You have to take into consideration his track record, (his) many, many accomplishments and the impact it would have on the community if we ask him to step down," Warden said.'

---grand haven tribune---
Snapshots from Home
Further Bloodletting

I'm not sure how descriptions of my regular donations at the National Institutes of Health's blood bank became a series on University Diaries, but okay.

And I mean regular. I looked at my printout while I was waiting to give. I'm what they call a "galloner."

It all starts with a phone call from a woman named Sparkle (her real name). She reminds UD that her O positive, CMV negative blood is all the rage, so would UD please come over and give them some.

Today, as it happens, UD is having lunch with her friend Karyna in 'thesda, and Karyna's happy to drop her at the big barred security gates of NIH after their meal at Cafe Deluxe.

UD has a salade nicoise .

Naively, UD begins walking toward the NIH campus at the entrance where Karyna drops her off. An anxious security guard immediately accosts her, and directs her to wait for a perimeter shuttle down the block.

This shows up in seconds. There's no one on it but UD and the driver, and they have a wide-ranging chat about his love of gambling in Atlantic City; his tall dark and handsome son who's having trouble fighting off women; his inability to give blood because of his diabetes; UD's love of the sun and how if she had it to do all over again she'd be an undergrad at the University of Hawaii; UD's preference for places like Rehoboth over Atlantic City; and how it doesn't matter if you can't give blood, because there are lots of other good things you can do.

She's in the Clinical Center now,
a gargantuan building

in which UD must walk down corridor after
corridor to get to the blood bank.

They're having computer trouble today.
UD is asked to sit tight in the little
examination cubicle where they check her
iron content and pulse and blood pressure
to make sure she's able to give. Idly, UD
wanders to the computer in the corner of the
room and does some GMAIL chatting with a
friend of hers who works at US News.

"Hope you don't mind my commandeering your
computer," UD says to the nurse who eventually

"Actually, I do. That's government property."
UD stops what's she doing immediately, of course.
But UD, daughter of a long-serving NIH scientist,
is so not impressed by this. Her father, and
everyone else, was always bringing home government
property... Of course, it was mainly those ugly
black pens...

No computers in those days...

UD aces her pre-donation
tests and walks into an adjacent room to
lie down and have the stuff out. As always,
before she lies down, UD grabs
the stupidest-looking magazine she can find.
With her right arm (the veins are better in her
left), she holds this aloft and reads it intently --
all in order not to look at the nurse sticking
a needle in her arm, and then not to look
at her blood in the tube. She finds that things
go more smoothly - in this as in so many
aspects of her life - when she's in denial.

At some point another nurse, with a notepad,
comes over to interview UD as
part of an experiment about iron content
in which UD's been entered as
a "control." (That is, UD's
part of the group that has no trouble with
iron content.) Then it's just a matter of
squeezing the little ball they give you to get
the blood out faster... doesn't take long at all...

And now the nurse is wrapping a bright pink bandage
with happy faces on it (would it be rude or
snobby to ask for another...? oh, forget it...) around
her left arm, and UD's free to go.
Bishop Pricked

Back in February, UD anticipated that, given general corruption levels in the state of Alabama, specific corruption levels at Bishop State could go on indefinitely. She quoted a local editorial about it:

'... [I]t's hard to top the story of a [Bishop State] employee (since charged with a crime) whose 67-year-old disabled grandmother was receiving athletic scholarships to play three sports at Bishop State just months before she died.

But in an audit released this week, the true scope of the problems at Bishop State comes into focus. The picture is not pretty.

The Examiners of Public Accounts identified more than $438,000 in financial aid abuses, including other athletic scholarships to employees' relatives who did not play sports.

Indeed, the athletic program awarded $87,000 in scholarships to 42 relatives and others who didn't play on teams. Among the transactions cited in the audit were scholarships for men's baseball given to two women, three scholarships given to the daughter of the school's softball coach, and two scholarships for the spouse of the women's basketball coach.

The audit also found that tuition was wrongly waived for 15 employees and 31 relatives, that 48 people received federal aid for which they weren't eligible, and that employees manipulated grades and attendance records. One instructor received 23 credit hours for taking 10 courses he taught.

...[C]riminal charges already have been filed against some Bishop State employees and others who are accused of financial aid fraud. Let's hope a similar fate awaits anyone who took or awarded aid money in a fraudulent manner. Remember, those who wrongfully received aid did so at the expense of people who were entitled to assistance and surely could have benefited from it.

...Bishop State President Yvonne Kennedy cannot escape responsibility for all that has happened under her watch. She can't claim she wasn't aware of the problems. State auditors have been citing problems with aid money at Bishop State at least since 2001. The campus also knew there were problems in its handling of federal grants, having already agreed to repay the federal government $155,000 for wrongly dispensed aid. (The latest audit suggests the debt may be closer to $300,000.)

If the school is ever going to emerge from this scandal and regain the public's confidence, Kennedy must go.

It won't be easy to make her leave. Two-year college presidents are politically powerful. Kennedy is even more so because she is also a member of the state Legislature. But it's clear she has not been running Bishop State as it should have been run. Perhaps she was too distracted by her legislative duties and is another example of why legislators shouldn't be allowed to hold a second state job.

Regardless, Kennedy should step down from the two-year college job. If she can't bring herself to resign, interim Chancellor Thomas Corts should show her the door.'

The real beauty here was Kennedy's simultaneous appointment as president and state legislator... UD figured this amazing synergy would give her and her buds a free hand as long as she liked...

Yet even Alabama has pillage limits, apparently. UD's friend Scott Jaschik, at Inside Higher Ed, reports:

Yvonne Kennedy on Wednesday announced plans to resign as president of Bishop State Community College, The Mobile Press-Register reported. The State Board of Education has been facing calls to oust Kennedy as leader of the scandal-plagued Alabama institution. Twenty-seven people, many of them former employees, [face] charges of theft of financial aid and sports funds from the college; state and federal officials are questioning the college’s management of various grants; and the college has been placed on probation by its accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. On Thursday, the state board ordered Kennedy to fire David Thomas, head of the college’s Division of Adult Education and Economic Development, because of his recent impeachment from the Mobile school board over accusations that he used school money to but $9,000 worth of Mardi Gras parade items, and because he pleaded guilty to charges of leaving the scene of an accident after a 2005 incident in which he ran over a 8-year-old girl’s foot.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This is Nicely Written...

...but there's a curious tension in it that has to do with money.

'The Indianapolis Star is reporting that NCAA President Myles Brand was paid $895,000 in salary, benefits and expenses last year. What for? [Okay. So begins by asking a basic and important question: Does Brand deserve the enormously high salary he gets?]

University of Hartford president Walter Harrison, whose term as head of the NCAA's executive committee ended in April, said Brand is doing a "spectacular job."

"The job is incredibly challenging in a way most people wouldn't recognize," Harrison said. "Most people think of the major headlines -- congressional inquiries, overseeing academic reform, the controversies of the day. But there are lots of other things, like how one keeps the peace among numerous constituencies. And, he's running a $500 million organization."

So, the parts of his job that nobody knows about, he handles with enough aplomb to merit 4% and 3% raises in the last two years. Cool. No problems there.

The problem is, the part of his job that people do see --- they tend to think he sucks at it. Congress is breathing down the NCAA's neck as it considers eliminating its tax-exempt status. There's a pending class-action lawsuit filed on the behalf of former and current athletes who are seeking greater compensation. In the college football world, the NCAA's weak investigation and enforcement powers, silly and inflexible rules and tone-deaf handling of something so basic like the clock rules have people furious with NCAA leadership. There's also that little supplement issue where schools are afraid to give their athletes peanut butter for fear of breaking the rules.

And then there's the kicker, Brand's stated position of having the NCAA's mission overlap with "social advocacy". Last I checked, social causes weren't really part of the organization's fundamental mission.

In fact, it looks like a perverse overreach and has eroded public trust in the organization. Save the advocacy for groups professionally committed to those tasks who have the expertise and clarity of mission to pursue such causes. The NCAA has other fish to fry and frankly I'm not sure it has done a superb job at handling some of its more pertinent, basic, fundamental issues. [Nice detailed condemnation.]

I don't find fault with Brand drawing such an impressive salary. I'm a capitalist - I say more power to him and may he find ways to make much more money through whatever legal avenues he can. But I am curious and deeply skeptical as to whether he's earned it and whether both Brand and the NCAA can do better for what he is being paid.' [This is the part of the argument I find odd. The whole essay has been about this guy finding fault with Brand's enormous salary, given that Brand's actually bad at what he does. Being a capitalist doesn't mean endorsing in a kind of radical isolation every individual in his or her quest for more and more money; it doesn't mean abandoning your sense of reasonable upper limits, or, as in this case, your sense that salary should reflect job performance. The writer has in fact demonstrated quite nicely that money is usually for something, about something, and it can seem too much money if something's being done badly.]

---fanhouse, aol sports---
A Woman's Calming Touch... so what's needed in this anxious masculine analysis, by William Deresiewicz in The American Scholar, and Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed, of eros in university life. Both men worry at length about the pathetic emasculated male humanities professor, as he's portrayed in popular culture, and as he may well be in real life -- a "pompous, lecherous, alcoholic failure," as Deresiewicz writes, a man who's all about "moral failure and the frustrations of petty ambition."

Deresiewicz cites an absolute ton of films and books over many years consistently portraying professors like this -- humanities professors, that is:

'It seems that in the popular imagination, “professor” means “humanities professor.” Of course, there are plenty of science professors in movies and books, but they are understood as scientists, not professors. Social scientists are quoted liberally in the press, but generally under the rubric of “scholar” or “expert.” Stereotypes arise from the partitioning of complex realities — academics play multiple roles — into mutually isolated simplifications. Say the word professor, and the popular mind, now as in the old days, conjures up the image of a quotation-spouting bookworm. And it is that figure who has become an object lesson in the vanity of ambition.

In the popular imagination, humanities professors [Deresiewicz, again, means male humanities professors] don’t have anything to be ambitious about. No one really knows what they do, and to the extent that people do know, they don’t think it’s worth doing — which is why, when the subject of humanistic study is exposed to public view, it is often ridiculed as trivial, arcane, or pointless. Other received ideas come into play here: “those who can’t do, teach”; the critic as eunuch or parasite; the ineffective intellectual; tenure as a system for enshrining mediocrity. It may be simply because academics don’t pursue wealth, power, or, to any real extent, fame that they are vulnerable to such accusations. In our culture, the willingness to settle for something less than these Luciferian goals is itself seen as emasculating. Academics [again, he means male academics] are ambitious, but in a weak, pathetic way. This may also explain why they are uniquely open to the charge of passionlessness. No one expects a lawyer to be passionate about the law: he’s doing it for the money. No one expects a plumber to be passionate about pipes: he’s doing it to support his family. But a professor’s only excuse for doing something so trivial and accepting such paltry rewards for it is his love for the subject. If that’s gone, what remains? Nothing but baseless vanity and feeble ambition. Professors, in the popular imagination, are absurd little men puffing themselves up about nothing.'

Here are a couple of typical observations along these lines. The first is a charming bit of self-awareness from a professor commenting on McLemee's piece in IHE:

"I’ve learned to accept that my students tend to see me as some sort of quaint loser, somewhat along the lines of a Disney dwarf. If that’s the price I have to pay for not racing with the rats, no problem — well worth it. I suppose I’m protected from the Viagra thing [McLemee calls these desperate, not-very-impressive lechers "Casaubons on Viagra"] by being fat and jolly."

The second is from Gillian Rose's autobiography, Love's Work, in which she describes herself at a faculty meeting one day:

"I found myself in a routinely tedious faculty meeting... On this particular occasion, I was aware of an intense aura emanating from someone whom I had never seen before, an intense, sexual aura, aimed precisley and accurately at my vacant being. 'A man,' I wondered, 'could there be a man in this meeting?'"

(Of course the room was full of men, all castrati as far as Rose was concerned; she's describing the appearance of a new faculty member, actually recognizable as a real man.)

How much of a problem, though, is this, really? We're talking only about male humanities professors who haven't gotten with the program. What program, UD? The program that, later in his essay, Deresiewicz describes in this way: "A single-minded focus on research plus a talent for bureaucratic maneuvering." This is how most academics in all departments, at least at competitive schools, live, as Phillip Rieff long ago explained to one of his graduate students:

"[Y]ou had better understand that the profession that you are going into [should be] all about teaching [the student recalls Rieff telling him]. I know many professors who went into this business because they loved writing books and articles and developing a little coterie of admirers. ...Most academics are too narcissistic to be the parental figures that they need to be. They will slam their door on a student just so they can write their next forgettable article or book... These self-involved characters will also turn their wives into secretaries and sacrifice their children to feckless books."

Now it's true that in this cohort, as Rieff goes on to say, there will be a few -- a few male humanities professors -- who will get "into their 50s and ... feel the limits of their talents." This sad lot will fall "into very serious despair, because it [is] clear that they [are] never going to become the Kierkegaard that they imagined they were, and they [dread] teaching."

But let me be a bit more generous than Deresiewicz or Rieff here and suggest that another reason for lecherous alcoholic despair among certain male humanities professors can be found right inside that Kierkegaard. If, every single semester of your life, you had to descend into fear and loathing and sickness unto death, or had to reread every stanza of Tennyson's In Memoriam, or had to recite "Margaret, are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving," wouldn't you get a bit down? Serious thought undermines. As one of Saul Bellow's characters says, "Maybe an unexamined life is not worth living. But a man's examined life can make him wish he was dead."

A final reason for the glum horny thing we've got going here is what UD'd call a lack of scope for rascality. It's hard to feel you're a real man unless you can occasionally misbehave in gratifying ways, but the only departments where this can be done (aside, obviously, from athletics) are business, economics, engineering, and those hard sciences that attract a lot of funding. This is where Deresiewicz's thing about a talent for bureaucratic maneuvering comes in. You want to feel you're a player in capitalist sport, but there's just no way to play in English departments. No one cares how badly you abuse the little gifts -- the Guggenheim, the weeny grant for two weeks in a room near an Italian lake -- that the humanities offer. If, as Rieff suggests, the humanities professor is not supplementing his goodie bag with a love of teaching, he's on his way down.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Recent Rash

'A Samford University football player has taken the recent rash of off-field arrests to new heights - by robbing a bank.

Michael Sherrod Hall, a 20-year-old defensive end, was arrested and is being held on federal bank robbery charges after allegedly holding up a Hoover bank last Friday.

"This totally shocks me," first-year Samford head coach Pat Sullivan said in a statement on Monday. "Right now, Mike is suspended from our football team."

Hall, a 2006 transfer from Arkansas, was arrested in Douglas County Friday morning, just two hours after a man with a pistol robbed an AmSouth Bank in Hoover, police said.

Local authorities say they found about $18,200 during a search of the vehicle Hall was in when he was picked up.

Hall started nine games for Division I-AA Samford last season, finishing the season with 13 tackles and two sacks.'

It's the total shock that gets UD. How totally shocked do you think the head coach really was? Even if he was first-year? It's like this poor guy Akey at the University of Idaho. (UD thanks Dave, a reader, for sending her the following, from The Idaho Statesman.)

'Next month, Idaho football coach Robb Akey will head to Wallowa Lake in Joseph, Ore., for an annual fly-fishing getaway with friends.

If anyone deserves such a vacation, it's Akey.

Hired in December to rebuild the Vandals (the University of Idaho football team] — and provide stability to a program that has had four head coaches since 2003 — Akey has instead spent more time handing out punishment than scheming Xs and Os.

Seventeen players have been removed from the roster in Akey's short tenure for a variety of reasons — family obligations, academics, stealing textbooks, dealing drugs, violation of team rules and just plain quitting.

Some Vandals have a longer rap sheet than Pacman Jones and Lindsay Lohan.


"I didn't anticipate this many disciplinary issues," said Akey, his normally enthusiastic voice dipping slightly.

"When you tell people things are going to be done one way, it needs to be backed up. That's not why I signed on to be a football coach. Being the principal isn't the job I wanted. But it's my responsibility to make sure that things are done that way."

In setting the tone for his program, the first-time head coach believes he has made the Vandals better on the day that matters most — Saturday afternoons.

"We've increased the character of our football team. We've increased the strength and base we're going to build from," Akey said. "If we've got guys doing the wrong things in the community, it makes it tough on everybody and we get looked at in the wrong light."

Athletic director Rob Spear is selling sunshine as well.

"We have a solid foundation now. And I think the message has been sent and there is a way we're going to do things and a way these student-athletes are expected to do things," he said.

"I'm not going to predict we'll never have another problem, but I do think we have a solid foundation and are moving in the right direction."

Akey, Spear and the rest of the Idaho athletic department can spin this as positively as they want.

I'm not buying it.

Nor do I think Vandal fans should.

I'm not buying that having to dismiss roughly 15 percent of your football team for disciplinary reasons is a positive.

If Akey's efforts are to be applauded — and I believe they are — then it also raises alarming questions about the state of the program.

If it's a testament to Akey's character — and I believe it is — it's also an indictment of the previous regimes and, in many ways, the leadership in the athletic department overall.

"The instability with the head coaching position has had an impact. I do think we were in a rush to fix things quickly rather than doing it over a long period of time," Spear said. "I'm not going to be critical of coach (Dennis) Erickson and coach (Nick) Holt."

Why not?

If character is so important to building a winning program, then why weren't the former coaches held to such a standard? And the quick-fix argument doesn't hold much sway.

After all, Idaho is 20-61 since 2000. The Vandals went 9-27 under Holt and Erickson.

If the problem requires this drastic of a solution, how come it wasn't uncovered sooner? And would these problems have come to light if Erickson — not exactly noted for his devotion to discipline — were still the coach?

Spear said he told coaching candidates that they would have to carefully evaluate the personnel on the team. He knew there were some problems, but did not realize they ran so deep.

"There were enough things happening that I was concerned about, which is why I was up front with the coaches we interviewed," Spear said.

And if tearing down is the only way for Akey to build the type of program he and Vandal fans can be proud of on and off the field — and again, I believe it is — then why weren't others tasked with the same objective?

It simply sounds too convenient.

Yes, it's great that Akey is cleaning up the program, but that doesn't mean you ignore the fact that it needed such a drastic cleaning in the first place.

The actions of this spring will not go away soon. Idaho will feel the effect in future NCAA Academic Progress Reports, which could lead to a loss of scholarships.

"We're making a conscious decision. We will sacrifice an APR score for good character," Spear said.

And they will be felt on the field this fall. Akey is likely to shift to a 3-4 defensive alignment because of the number of defections along the defensive line. Depth will be a huge issue at several positions.

"We've improved our football team by doing this," he said. "Sure, it'd be nice if the guys you got rid of were slow and not good football players, but it's not that way."

Akey better enjoy that fishing vacation. Something tells me this fall will be even more difficult than the spring.'
Blogoscopy / SOS

A lot of guys find blogs threatening. I don't know why. We've seen Robert Samuelson growl at them. We've seen Michael Kinsley whine about them. Now there's Paul F. Campos.

I once asked a friend of mine, a novelist, why so many writers have drinking problems. "A better question is why so many drinkers have writing problems," he replied. [This is amusing, but what's the connection between the sally and the point coming up about there being a lot of law bloggers?]

His response came to mind recently when I began to toy with the idea of starting a blog. Although the contrarian in me is attracted to the prospect of being the last law professor in America without one, the forms' advantages are obvious. [The writer is correct that, among academics, law professors are particularly drawn to the blog form, with Ann Althouse among the most prominent.]

A blog allows one to dash off a brilliant riposte to some flawed argument or rhetorical atrocity, without having to deal with publishing schedules or, worse, editors who insist that factual assertions be true, and who place other tiresome demands on creative genius. [
The sarcasm ain't working. It's failing partly for stylistic reasons -- the guy's not a good enough writer to pull off humor -- and partly because it's unfair. It doesn't
describe what legal bloggers do or how they think of themselves at all.]

These same features also represent the disadvantages of a blog. Every time I hear the Blog Siren singing its Celine Dionesque song [Have no idea what this means.], I end up thinking of a certain type of legal academic blogger — the sort who has a habit of concocting (intentionally?) preposterous posts, which then elicit a predictable stream of insults from various precincts of the blogosphere. [
The guy absolutely has to name a few of these, with links. I can't think of any, and I read lots of legal blogs.]

Our brave blogger then sallies forth in a state of high dudgeon, demanding apologies from those who have insulted her, while at the same time exacerbating the situation by engaging in the most incredibly juvenile banter. [Constipated writing. Again, not funny. UD can help this guy out with his problem: He should not start a blog.] I find it difficult to believe such witticisms aren't composed with one hand, while the other holds a glass of cabernet sauvignon the size of Lake Tahoe.

Among writers in general, and bloggers in particular, alcohol and narcissism go together like peanut butter and chocolate. [Does the writer mean this to mean that they do go together? What the fuck?] Psychologists define narcissistic personality disorder as involving a grandiose sense of self-importance, and an overwhelming need for the constant attention and admiration.

What better example of this can there be than bloggers obsessed with how many "hits" their posts are eliciting, or how often they're mentioned on the Internet, and who take pride in drawing attention to themselves by being aggressively obnoxious? [Once again, if the writer's unwilling to name any legal blogger who does this, he's easily dismissed as a jerk.]

Blogs pose special dangers for academics. The whole point of academic life is to offer those who live it the time to spend months and years becoming expert about, and reflecting upon, complex issues, before committing thoughts on such matters to print.

The same can't be said for the chardonnay-fueled rant posted at 3 in the morning, which may inadvertently tell your readers far more than they wish to know about your living-room decor, your psycho-sexual neuroses and your views on "American Idol."
[Lame and lamer. Get ready for two bizarre final paragraphs.]

None of which is to deny many bloggers, including academic bloggers, do excellent work. Just a few of the lawyers and law professors who regularly write first-rate things in the genre include Glenn Greenwald, Jack Balkin, Eugene Volokh and Sandy Levinson. [If you want to be taken as a powerful satirist, with those chardonnay references and all, you can't restrict yourself, like some little missy at a teaparty, to naming law bloggers you like. You've got to name the ones you're attacking... Notice, by the way, that the guy gives a female pronoun to the sort of blog he hates, and then lists among the blogs he likes only those written by men. Biggies like Ann Althouse clearly have this guy's knickers in a twist. Who cares.]

I could list many more. These writers represent a variety of perspectives, but they all write fluent, accessible prose, they mostly avoid shooting from the hip and their analyses of various topics are, if I may say, generally quite sober. [End of essay. No particular reason why it's the end of the essay, but then this piece of writing is incoherent from the get-go. UD's advice: Consult a psychologist.]


More on French Universities...

...from an American currently teaching in one. (For UD's own impressions of a semester teaching at the University of Toulouse, go here.)

My students are surprised that school curricula and funding varies according to state, whereas I still have difficulty getting my head around centralized National Education; my students are intrigued by the idea of "autonomous" American universities and I openly advocate for universities in France to be liberated from the grip of the State; my students are impressed that American students can take time off from university and come back when they want; my students are shocked at the cost of higher education in America and yet at their French university they cannot find a computer, much less a printer, on which to type up or print out their final papers. There is little to no infrastructure in place for the students-- no student newspaper, no career services, a minimally-equipped library open very few hours of the day and not at all on the weekend, a student cafeteria open only for lunch, and they still refuse to pay any more than 400 euros a year. "Studying is a right, not a privilege," is the slogan they repeat, and this slogan prevents French universities from instituting a selection process or charging tuition.

---huffington post---

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From the Santa Clara University
Media Relations Office

'School’s out, summer is here, and it’s time for the Ethics and Leadership Camp for Public Officials at Santa Clara University.

In an effort to prevent the next big government ethics scandal, mayors, city managers and other public officials from around the country will spend two days, June 27 and June 28, (from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.) dissecting ethical dilemmas and trying to engineer a new, ethically enlightened public servant for the 21st century.

“With the kinds of problems we’ve been seeing on the national level, citizens and lawmakers are starting to say we’ve got to do something to defuse these land mines,” says [Judy] Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and former mayor of the city of Santa Clara.

Among the campers will be officials from San Diego, Los Angeles, Gilroy, Los Altos, Santa Clara and San Jose as well as elected and appointed officials from cities and counties around the country.

In addition to Nadler, “camp counselors” will include:

Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and former chair of Santa Clara County Political Ethics Commission.

Carla Miller, co-ethics officer for the city of Jacksonville, Fla., and board member of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), and founder of

LeeAnn Pelham, executive director of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

Elsa Chen, assistant professor of political science at Santa Clara University and leader of the Public Sector Program.

Media opportunities:

June 27, 9 a.m.: Ice breaker where campers will don hard hats for interactive exercise

June 27, 12 noon: Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose will give presentation

June 28, 9:15 a.m.: Campers will be asked to put on protective masks and sanitize their hands during a presentation about ethics during a flu pandemic – who gets medicine, transportation, etc.

This year’s camp theme: “Bridging the Ethics Gap”'
I Guess Length Does Count.

Headline, today's Chronicle of Higher Education:

'Private-Colleges Group
Proposes Template to Foster
Comparisons of Members'
UD's Proud to Say...

...that The American Scene, "an ongoing review of politics and culture," now links to University Diaries.
Cries and Whispers

This morning, SOS shifts her ancient glittering eyes to higher level problems in prose, problems that can convey a kind of whispery weakness to an essay. She considers an okay piece in Inside Higher Education that would be much better if the writer stopped overusing to be verbs.

First, here's the deal on to be verbs, from the South Dakota State Writing Center's webpage:

To be verbs are all the various forms of that verb: am, is, are, was, were, has or have been, had been, will have been, being, and to be. They are used to link a subject with a noun or adjective complement, to precede the ing-form of an action verb to form continuous tenses, and to precede the past participle of a transitive verb to form the passive. All of the following examples are correct, but many of them are boring. Changing them to the actor-action sentence pattern normally makes the sentences more interesting and concise.

Laura is a photographer for the local newspaper.

Better: Laura works as a photographer for the local newspaper.

Better: Laura shoots photographs for the local newspaper.

George hasn't been well for a long time.

Better: George's illness has lasted for a long time.

That scandal is interesting to a lot of people.

Better: That scandal interests a lot of people.

Let us see how to be or not to be plays out at greater length.

This month I finished my first full year of teaching as a tenure-track professor. I’ve learned a lot this year [redundancy of "year...year" not a great idea], much of it an odd amalgam [odd amalgam's nice] of the practical and philosophical: I’ve reflected on the nature of education. I’ve pondered the ultimate existential importance [drop ultimate -- already the reader's getting a general sense of wordiness] of education for the development of the individual. I’ve also mastered the overhead projector in my classroom and learned how to make two-sided hand outs on the office photcopier. [This is supposed to be funny, the absurd disproportion between grandly existential values and the trivial business of two-sided handouts. It could be funny. But it's not, because the writer's prose isn't sharp and lean enough to let the humor out. Again, it's the wordiness problem.] But the one thing that I learned this year that I did not expect to learn was the value — and inevitability — of intimacy.

As an adjunct teaching for the first time I hungered for acceptance and praise. I wanted my students to tell me that I knew what I was doing because I couldn’t quite convince myself that I did. I quickly learned, however, that adjuncts have to have thick skin — negative student feedback is inevitable [The to be problem begins to creep in - feedback is inevitable is less interesting than, say, feedback happens...] when you are inexperienced and overworked. [I'm going to start bolding the problem.] And of course students are interested in receiving a high grade and learning a thing or two along the way, not being caught up in the complex interior psychology of their professor [Overuse of adjectives is a problem here too. Drop "complex," and certainly drop "interior," as UD is unaware of any psychology which is not interior.] As a result, the message I took away from my years of adjuncting was the importance of separating my private thoughts and feelings from my public role as an academic: professionalism, judiciousness, and a commitment to the craft of teaching were all skills that I worked to cultivate.

Of course, these are not values that I gave up once I became an assistant professor (a point I’d like to underline in case my chair is reading this!) But now, at the end of my first year, what has struck me most about being in a tenure-track position is interplay between professionalism and personal intimacy. And the nature of this interplay is, as far as I can tell, denial: a necessary and yet futile insistence that we can separate who we are as professors is different from who we are as people.

There is very little in a professor’s life that does not stem from intensely personal commitments. With the job market the way it is these days you don’t become a professor unless you are in love with your area of expertise. In fact, given the length of graduate school and the rise of adjuncting as a near-inevitable phenomena in some fields, it takes so long to become a professor that you have to fall in love with it two or three times as you grow and change as a person in the course of your career. Of course it might not be love for you — it might be obsession, addiction, or any of the other emotions that keep people coming back for more when they should walk away. But regardless of which [This is wordy and awkward: Just write "Whatever feelings draw you in..."] particular feelings draw you in, this is a line of work that’s hard to get into without it getting pretty deeply entangled in who you are.

In many ways, however, these are unseemly entanglements that ought not be displayed by professionals. Pencils do not get purchased and job advertisements do not get written when faculty meetings involve table-pounding denunciations of the false readings of Blanchot perpetuated by others in your department. Students leave your classes feeling wounded and bitter when they become ego-fests in which your personal agenda dominates. For all of these reasons and more, we tell ourselves that professors — “even professors” — must act professionally.

Of all the lies that we tell ourselves, this one is probably the most necessary and also the most heinous. Like most strongly-enforced boundaries, we insist on separating intimacy and professionalism because in practice the line between them is so blurred as to be indistinct.

Take teaching, for instance. I was very lucky this semester to have some very good discussions in one of my classes. I remember one moment in particular when the class as a whole began focusing in on one particular issue. I could feel the entire room poised on the brink of commitment to the idea that what we were talking about was not just interesting, but important. It was one of those rare moments of intellectual and emotional commitment that educators live for. [Again, note the wordiness. Going through the paragraph, UD finds that the following words diminish the writing's power: very, very, in particular, as a whole, particular, entire, on the brink, rare. Drop them all.]

But why were we only on the brink? What was missing? As I attempted to draw students out I realized mid-sentence that the missing ingredient was me. I brought an important issue to the table, but in doing so I distanced myself from it because I was, at some level, afraid to let my students see just how seriously I took it. I was just about to tell a joke — the easy way out for all young hip assistant professors — to lighten the mood but instead I stopped, reset, and tried to lead by example by demonstrating how important I thought the topic in question was for me.

It is not easy for students to speak in class, especially when what they say lays who they are out on the line. In these moments students need to know it is OK to take risks, and the way they learn this is by seeing their teacher do it. As an adjunct I learned the downsides of this sort of openness, but this year I was struck by how inescapable and important it is to temper one’s professional remove with a generous helping of intimacy.

Advising graduate students is even more clearly a case of managing the tension between intimacy and professionalism. As someone whose Ph.D. is just over a year old, I have more in common with my graduate students than I do with some of the faculty members in my department. Indeed, some of my graduate students are older than I am. And yet, professors have power over graduate students: Structurally, they control letters of recommendation, grades, and of course approval of M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s. They have soft power as well — graduate students care about what professors think of them, and we have an infinite amount of opportunities [This should be number rather than amount.] to make ourselves feel more important by making our students feel less so.

Despite — or rather because of — the ambiguities of this boundary, professionalism is key. And yet graduate students are ill-served by professors who hide behind a shield of professionalism. Professors are role models, and much of graduate teaching involves modeling what Malinowski called the “imponderabilia of everyday life” for our students: methods of underlining books, the intuitive way we handle data, and of course the informal shop talk of our disciplines.

Even more important, professors demonstrate to students what a life lived as a professor is like. Having these sorts of role models is key not just to earning a Ph.D., but to one’s choice of career. It is not impossible to become a professor in today’s job market, but it is difficult. What, then, are we supposed to tell our students? Not to pursue the careers that we ourselves have chosen? The truth is that being a professor is good, but it is hard — and we need to let our students inside our lives so that they can see this, and make up their own minds about their careers informed of both the intimate and professional side of the professoriate. In my case, I believe the best way to do this is let my graduate students see me in all my anthrogeekery.

Of course [Notice how often of course shows up in this short essay.] the other thing about have graduate students is that they figure out stuff about you whether you want them to or not. In fact, they figure out stuff about you that you yourself didn’t know. Does my extroverted overenthusiasm in class hide a deeper, more easily wounded side that I hide from others? Is my overblown dislike of certain approaches bluster which papers over a private more embracing pluralism or am I in fact a brittle, doctrinare academic?

This is the other side of intimacy: its inevitability. As an adjunct I could get in, teach, and get out again — the relationships I had at the institutions where I adjuncted were relatively unentangling. But mentoring graduate students allows them to see who you are — indeed, it is in the very process of working with them that I find myself spinning out who I am and will be as a professor.

Even the complex webs of self-cultivation woven during graduate advising seem as nought compared to the ultimate form of academic intimacy: faculty meetings. Hard decisions about important topics get made in faculty meetings, and it is exactly in these high-stakes situations that it is most necessary to act professionally to advance the interests of your department, rather than just yourself. And yet these are also the decisions that will have the most effect on us as people, and deal with the topics that we are least likely to compromise on. You cannot escape being who you are for other faculty in these sorts of situations.

And worse, like some sort of existentialist novel, departments perdure [The comparison is unclear.]. We have track records. Decisions made and relationships forged decades ago play out in every faculty meeting. This means that new faculty walk into rooms filled with history, and it makes us — or me, at least — keenly aware that the decisions we make today will impact us for many years in the future. Here intimacy is at its most inevitable.

I’m very lucky to have a department full of colleagues who have been [Drop who have been] welcoming and eager to help me get my footing on the tenure track, and overall my first year went really well — especially after I learned how to use the projector in my classroom. [Again, the attempt at humor fails.] As I take my first tentative steps down the road to tenure, I realize once again that however much we tell ourselves the academy is not ‘the real world’ [Grr. Quotation marks.] it is far more real than the cubicleland to which many of my high school friends have been consigned. Professionalism is important because it is the only way we [Word missing here.] to deal with the very scary fact that professors and students share a life together that is both very real, and intimate.

One of the commenters on this piece at IHE writes "Get an editor. Brevity is the soul of...oh, never mind." This person is noticing... er, notices, what UD has noticed: Although in fact a short essay, it reads long because of its writing style.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Page A1,
Sunday New York Times

This morning, Scathing Online Schoolmarm considers a very well-written, high-profile news article on the front page of the Sunday New York Times -- arguably the most prominent, most-read, front-page in the world.

UD has already noted on this blog occasional lapses of news-sense on the part of her beloved newspaper, moments when this impressively international publication loses the bigger picture and betrays a certain parochialism. Here's an example.


A Fairway View, But the Window is Often Broken

Intriguing. What's it mean? What's it about? Golf, I guess. A good headline -- makes you want to read on. Let's do that.

When she moved into her retirement condominium on a golf course, Eleanor Weiner admired the lush, pristine views of the fairways and greens, a landscape she never had to mow or maintain. Not long after, as she prepared dinner, a golf ball shattered the kitchen window, whistled past her head and crashed through the glass on her oven door. Ms. Weiner retrieved the ball from her oven and stalked outside to confront the golfer who had launched the missile.

Starts with narrative. A very good idea. But the writer clearly means this story to generate sympathy for poor Ms. Weiner, shattered by the evil golf ball. And we're going to have trouble sympathizing, aren't we?

“He told me that’s what I get for living on a golf course,” said Ms. Weiner, who has lived for a dozen years alongside Rancho Las Palmas Country Club near Palm Springs, Calif. “That was the first time I heard that, but it surely hasn’t been the last.”

Damn straight. Live on a golf course, get golf balls. UD's with all the guys telling her off.

So the story's already a bit broken.

Also, UD's beginning to wonder why the editorial staff of the New York Times thinks golf balls in your windows is a subject, let alone a Sunday A1 subject. Has Ms. Weiner has been hit in the head by so many golf balls that she's become a demented invalid? If UD doesn't read something like this in the next few paragraphs, she's going to wonder even more why an international newspaper has put a non-story on its front page.

The intersection of errant golf shots and private property is not a new phenomenon. But with new gear that enables average golfers to hit a ball 250 yards, and with golf communities sprouting nationwide — 70 percent of new courses include housing — it is becoming an increasingly prominent problem. Most homes built near this country’s 16,000 golf courses may not be in the cross hairs of slicing duffers, but thousands are.

Already the note of desperation. The writer knows how microscopically trivial his assignment -- the dueling interests of the rich, the battle royale between lush-living retirees and state of the art golf gear owners -- is, so he struggles to beef it up with words like "prominent" and "cross hairs."

Plus look at that statistic! Thousands of people just like Ms. Weiner all over this country are being shattered by golf balls...

And listen to this!

Before buying a five-bedroom house in Maricopa, Ariz., Jenny Robertson scrutinized it, with her mother’s help, according to feng shui principles to assess its harmony with its surroundings. Mrs. Robertson, who is not a golfer, barely looked at the tee box 150 yards from her backyard.

“We did not consider the feng shui of bad golfers,” she said. “When I go outside, it’s like dodgeball out there. I wish I knew that you have to be careful where you live on a golf course.”

Some people have become virtual prisoners in their homes. Earla Smith lives at Lookout Mountain Golf Club in Phoenix. Look out, indeed.

“The second day I was in the house, I kept hearing a banging outside,” Ms. Smith, 85, said. “It was golf balls hitting the outside walls. Three or four windows were broken. I sat out on the patio and I was lucky I wasn’t killed. I had a 70-inch picture window broken on the front of the house, and that doesn’t even face the golf course.”

In Rehoboth, Mass., Joyce Amaral collected 1,800 golf balls from her property abutting Middlebrook Country Club, then lugged them into court when she sued the club. Ms. Amaral’s house was hit so regularly, her landscapers wore hard hats. Balls set off the burglar alarm and dented her car.

Abu Gharib nothing! Look what people right here in this country are going through! And this woman did everything right -- she feng shuied for Chrissake! And the havoc! Dented cars!

But there's a solution. There's a happy ending. Which also makes UD wonder why the Times ran this piece.

Ms. Weiner ... turned to Screenmobile, a company that specializes in heavy-duty screens for doors and windows. Screenmobile said it received more than 400 calls from homeowners last year.

Four hundred calls just last year.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Medildo Meltdown

You already know, if you've been paying attention, that UD attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University for one year (Medill students called themselves Medildoes when UD was there) before transferring to NU's English department. She was not happy at Medill.

Now it turns out that "a series of internal and external audits in recent years [has] judged Medill -- which enjoys seeing itself as a journalism school without equal -- as an academic basket case." The Chicago Reader story that reports this doesn't say exactly how Medill's a basket case, but I'd guess this means it's losing students to other J-schools, isn't getting good jobs for its graduates, has an incoherent curriculum, has high levels of student discontent, etc.

Because of the crisis, NU's president has appointed a new head of the school who's all about technology, online venues, and consumers rather than writing style, newspapers, and readers. Inside Higher Ed reported on the shift last year:

Further integrating media management into the journalism education is now essential for a well-rounded education [said the new head of the school]. In a statement, [he] referred to much of the media’s inability to keep up with technology and consumer preferences. [There's a] growing need for media outlets to increase their marketing savvy... [The school also needs] to help students understand trends in how people consume media. [Another person involved in the change said that these changes will] certainly make marketing a larger part of the average journalism student’s experience. [He said that] marketing knowledge doesn’t necessarily “infect” journalistic content, but that if journalists want readers, they need to know how to produce good work, but also “how the audience wants to get it, and who they are.”

The bottom line, as a commenter on the IHE thread put it, is that "traditional print news publishers haven’t figured how to make money at new methods of electronic publishing."

In an NU alumni magazine article, Medill's new leader says that

The use of technology is another area that will be beefed up....
[S]tudents must be equipped for a world in which consumers want multiple ways to experience a story, whether by watching a video clip or looking at graphics and photographs or listening to a podcast or reading the text of an article.

UD's ambivalent about these changes. She needs to know more about them. She certainly remembers a very unimpressive Medill School of Journalism, but she suspects that all schools of journalism are unimpressive because they're schools of journalism.

Anyway, Northwestern's faculty has decided it's royally pissed:

The faculty senate at Northwestern University has formally accused NU’s administration of abolishing democracy at the Medill School of Journalism. A resolution passed unanimously June 6 by the General Faculty Committee says it found NU’s “suspension of faculty governance at [Medill] to be unacceptable and in violation of the University’s Statutes.” The resolution predicts “curricular changes that are ill considered . . . the demoralization and enmity of the faculty . . . damage to the national reputation of the School . . . the loss of and the inability to hire faculty who believe that the faculty’s role in governance is important for students, faculty and the public.”

Again, UD would have to know a great deal more to say whether the faculty's right to be outraged. You don't want to mess with faculty governance unless you've got very good reasons for doing so. Some good reasons for doing so would be a school within your university that's mired in the past, that can't govern itself or evolve intellectually, whose faculty is so internally riven that it can't make appointments, etc. Assuming some of this was going on at Medill, the university might have been justified in moving unilaterally.

Friday, June 22, 2007


The Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday gave a 25 percent raise in pay and benefits to Arizona State University President Michael Crow.

The board voted unanimously on the unprecedented five-year contract, which raises Crow's annual salary and benefits to more than $720,000 a year. He also gets a one-time bonus of $600,000, paid with private funds, if he remains president for five years.

"I view this as sort of 'carry on and work harder,'" Crow said...

Crow can earn a bonus of up to $150,000, approved in March, if he meets 10 performance goals next year.

... "He's worth every dollar he gets paid because he delivers," DeConcini said.

... His aggressive approach has been unpopular with some faculty, who feel business values have intruded too much on the university's core academic mission.

---the arizona republic---
A Slap on the Wrist

Florida A&M University, a national disgrace that UD has argued should be shut down, rehabilitated, and reopened, has now been placed on probation, reports the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

... The decision on Thursday by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the latest blow for Florida A&M, which has been reeling from financial turmoil, turnover, and infighting.

Belle S. Wheelan, president of the association's Commission on Colleges, said Florida A&M was placed on probation for problems with 10 standards, including those dealing with financial stability, compliance with financial-audit requirements, and the integrity of administrative and academic officers.

Other violations dealt with control of sponsored research and outside funds, and compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that prohibits sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funds.

Florida A&M officials could not immediately be reached to comment on the accreditor's action.

Note that they can't even pull themselves together to say something like we regret but understand this action; we pledge to whatever... They had to have known probation was likely to occur.

This university has so far misappropriated around forty million dollars of state funds. It's a huge scandal, against which six months of probation looks puny. Criminal proceedings will come, of course. What should also come is an acknowledgment that a university this foul no longer serves its students. Operations there should cease.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More Students =

'Paul Ciesielski, [University of Florida] associate professor of geology, developed a book with Faulkner Press that he uses in a large lecture class on dinosaurs that draws about 3,000 students each year.

Ciesielski's class started with an enrollment of just about 40 students a semester, but it grew substantially over time.

He now says he churns out 9,000 student credit hours a year for UF, and the university receives state appropriations based on the number of credit hours students take.

"I'm not saying I didn't know it was to my benefit (that enrollment grew), but it was to everyone's benefit," Ciesielski said.'

Yessiree, more students in a classroom benefits everyone; classes with three thousand students are going to be much better for students than classes with forty; and when the professor gets royalties on each book sold to them, well, it's win-win!

Even this fantastic outcome can be improved upon, however. A professor can own his or her own publishing company!

'Seigfred Fagerberg, a professor in UF's College of Health and Human Performance, has formed his own company to market his materials.

Students who enroll in Fagerberg's health and medical terminology class are instructed to buy an online textbook for $99.95 and, if they want to pursue extra credit, an additional workbook for $29.95 is available, according to his syllabus. Both books are published by Caduceus International Publishing Inc., which Fagerberg owns.

Fagerberg said he's disappointed to be in the "hot seat" amid an increasing investigation into professors' profits, adding that his product represents the very kind of innovation UF ought to be promoting. Fagerberg says his textbook has been adopted at three universities in Florida and he plans to market it nationally.

"(UF) should be encouraging faculty to develop these things to be competitive with other universities that are doing the same thing," he said.'
Old English in New York... the wonderful name of a blog kept by a grad student/medievalist in the big city. Here are some of her Bloomsday thoughts:

Ah Yes, Now I Remember

Blogging on the road from Orlando, Florida (yes, the Hurley Family Vacation 2007 was to Disney World, more on that later), I connected to the internet, and saw on my bloglines this lovely post at University Diaries. I spent Bloomsday 2007 in perhaps the most anti-Joycean way possible, but reading this made me long for my bookcase in New York, and my well-worn copy of the book that captured my imagination at the age of 17, and gave the first (albeit short-lived) direction to my hopes for an academic career:

... The phrase and the day and the scene harmonized in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey-fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language many-coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?

Yes, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (quotation courtesy of University Diaries, as I'm too lazy to look it up myself). Maybe it's a bit cliche, but at 17, Joyce spoke to me in a way nothing else ever had, not even medieval literature. It's nice to remember, at a point in my career where I've chosen the critical over the creative, a moment when that choice hadn't been made yet, when I first thrilled at the possibility of language, molded and shaped into art. Not to suggest I've lost that intoxication with the power of words. I only write about poetry now -- but re-reading these lines from Joyce make me realize why so many of the colleagues who I am most grateful to have as interlocutors are poets and creative writers, professionally or not. It's a constant reminder that poetry isn't something only in the past -- it's something being continually reborn...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Whoring After Money

As Florida Atlantic University demonstrates, there's always the temptation for universities to prostitute themselves for cash.

A couple of articles appeared today on the subject.

The Gazette, a Canadian newspaper, notes that

The worst kind of controversy that could affect our universities is the suggestion our degrees are for sale, that foreign students can simply fork over enough money and get a piece of paper attesting to proficiency.

The danger to Canada's reputation abroad is what makes the charges against the Universite du Quebec a Montreal's executive MBA program in China so serious. As The Gazette's Peggy Curran found, 11 students enrolled in UQAM's executive MBA program in China are said to have been admitted despite speaking virtually no English. This represents more than an impediment, since half the classes are given in English.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed discusses rising anxiety among serious university people about the proliferation of Ph.D.'s lite:

[S]ince there are no standards defining the professional doctorate [that is, a doctorate that tends to be about brushing up job skills for people already employed full-time], they say, there is a tendency to use the term "doctorate" very loosely. While a Ph.D. takes on average about 12 years to complete from the start of college, the new degrees, sometimes mocked as a "Ph.D. lite," typically take six or seven years. (The occupational-therapy degree is often completed in five and a half years, though new standards will require six years as of January.) Generally the new degrees do not require a major research project.

"For the last 15 or 20 years," says John D. Wiley, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, "we've been under pressure to take what is basically a master's degree and call it a doctorate."

In recent years Wisconsin introduced professional doctorate programs in pharmacy and audiology. Mr. Wiley says many faculty members initially opposed the programs, which some considered a cheapening of doctoral education. But in the end the university went ahead because it did not want to lose enrollments to institutions that were already offering them. Unhappy as they may be, Mr. Wiley says, "no one institution can afford to boycott the process."

... [T]he new degree programs are usually run by institutions' professional schools and are outside the "coordinating oversight of graduate school." Worse, [one] report says, many of the new programs are popping up at institutions "that offer few if any other doctoral programs," leading to concerns about their quality.

There are even fears, the report concluded, "that the new degrees will erode the integrity and primacy of the research doctorate in U.S. higher education."

...One issue that particularly troubles educators is the degree programs for people already working in a profession who want to upgrade their qualifications to a doctorate. Known as postprofessional, or transitional, programs, they operate under virtually no supervision because the professional associations generally accredit only entry-level programs.

... [I]f educators do not cooperate [in fixing the problem], ... weaker and less scrupulous institutions will see opportunities to make money from low-quality programs.

"In the worst case," [one observer] says, "you'll have a competitive rush to the bottom."
UD's Only Quibble...

...with this study (which she discovered via Andrew Sullivan) is that it leaves out the reason for the yelling. A woman assumes the seat will be down. When she sits on it and it's up, she experiences an unpleasant shock, and must save herself from falling somewhat into the toilet.
BYU Athlete Bats Cleanup

'A star runner at Brigham Young University was arrested after getting out of his car and striking a pedestrian with a mop, police said.

Kyle Perry's vehicle apparently got too close to the man, who was pushing a bucket with mops across a street ....

"Angry words were exchanged," Provo police Capt. Cliff Argyle said.

"Mr. Perry exited his vehicle and grabbed a mop out of the pedestrian's mop bucket and started to strike the pedestrian," Argyle said. "The pedestrian grabbed another mop and used it to defend himself. Eventually the pedestrian was shoved over a planter box and fell onto his back."

The man, who had a bump on his head, blocked Perry's car until police arrived and arrested the track star for aggravated assault, Argyle said. ...'


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Your Medical Education on Drugs

All cultures, I guess (let me put on my anthropologist's cap here) have what might be called sacred corrupt spaces. I pay a lot of attention to one such space on this blog: Mega-corporate university sports programs. We all know how foul they are; but most Americans worship them, and wouldn't think of laying a finger on the Elmer Gantrys who run them. Our cheatin' hearts love their cheatin' hearts...

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times discusses another well-established sacred American corrupt space: Continuing medical education.

The writer points out that legitimate medical schools have abdicated their responsibility to teach doctors, having handed this task over to drug companies, with predictable results:

...The chore of teaching doctors how to practice medicine has been handed to the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, dangerous side effects are rarely on the curriculum. ... Most states require that doctors obtain a minimum number of credit hours of continuing medical education each year to maintain their medical licenses. Not so long ago, most of these courses were produced and paid for by universities and medical associations. ... [But] drug-industry financing of continuing medical education has nearly quadrupled since 1998, from $302 million to $1.12 billion. Half of all continuing medical education courses in the United States are now paid for by drug companies, up from a third a decade ago. Because pharmaceutical companies now set much of the agenda for what doctors learn about drugs, crucial information about potential drug dangers is played down, to the detriment of patient care.... Education that doubles as advertising for drug companies occurs in all branches of medicine.

How did this happen?

Drug companies should never have been allowed to become the primary educator for America’s doctors. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, a nonprofit organization composed of the major medical associations, establishes the rules that govern continuing medical education. According to the guidelines, companies are forbidden from directly paying doctors who teach continuing medical education courses.

But the standards have a loophole that allows drug companies to circumvent the regulations. They hire for-profit “medical education communication companies” to organize the courses. These companies receive millions of dollars from drug companies to create course work and to pay doctors to deliver the content. Sometimes, they pay doctors to give lectures to other doctors. Other times, prominent doctors are paid to be listed as the authors of journal articles that are written by ghost writers, a practice that was extensively documented in court records from a lawsuit against Pfizer.... Either way, the content is rarely developed by the identified experts. Instead, it is developed by the undisclosed communication company, which is paid by the sponsoring pharmaceutical company.

Essentially, this is a new twist on that well-known instrument of corruption, money laundering. Drug companies don’t directly pay doctors to teach courses. Instead, they pay someone else to cut the checks. Similarly, the drug companies don’t explicitly tell doctors to say good things about their products. Instead, they hire a company to write good things about their products and to pay doctors to deliver the messages.

Something in our culture worships the rascals who engineered this scam, worships the money they dispense in order to corrupt people and institutions. We have more difficulty focusing on the unpleasant outcome of this set-up: The promotion of drugs that may be dangerous, and the neglect of drugs that may be life-saving.

As with bigtime university sports, we have a curious reverence for people whose team wins at any cost.
Aye, 'tis a sad day indeed...

...when even salespeople poop 'pon PowerPoint:

If you present for a living – whether you're a CEO selling your ideas to the board, a department manager trying to get funding from corporate for a capital project or a salesperson trying to win new business – your job is tougher than ever. You face relentless competition. People are bombarded with messages from the media, the Internet and other sources. It's getting harder and harder to break through the clutter, yet that's what you must do in order to persuade your audience. And ironically, in a time when you most need to hit your prospects with a powerful pitch, you're likely to fall back on an ineffective crutch: PowerPoint.

"Sellers have become projectionists, throwing words onto a screen while listeners read ahead and sellers plod behind, mouthing what's already been displayed," says Paul LeRoux, the co-author (along with Peg Corwin) of Visual Selling: Capture the Eye and the Customer Will Follow (Wiley, April 2007, ISBN-10: 0-4717936-1-2, ISBN-13: 978-0-4717936-1-8, $24.95). "PowerPoint's electronic barrage of words, bullet points and sentences threatens to turn the art of persuasion into a lost art."

That's right. LeRoux is on a mission to break presenters from the seductive PowerPoint routine. When you allow yourself to play second fiddle to PowerPoint text, you cripple your own selling efforts. [Sure, sure mixed metaphor...] By adopting the principles of visual selling – which basically means drawing attention to yourself and shaping images, room environments, personal appearance and gestures for maximum impact – you can give dynamic presentations that truly persuade.

Interestingly, says LeRoux, presenting your ideas with images rather than text says four important things about you:

1) You're different from the average presenter. From the first visual, you're separating yourself from competing ideas, dramatically and non-verbally.

2) Your work and service also will be personalized. Tailored image presentations are more difficult to create than text slides, and they show you'll go the extra mile.

3) You're smart enough to speak without huge cue cards on the screen.

4) You're creative. Rather than presenting the same old material the same old way, you've demonstrated your ability to think conceptually. Your images reflect your imagination.

"People respect individuals who exhibit these four qualities," says LeRoux. "Even without saying, 'I'm dependable; I deliver,' you're conveying these facts. They understand implicitly that the person who is creative, who is smart, who makes an effort and who is different is more likely to deliver than someone who is not."

When will professors get the message? How long will their students have to endure dull dull dull PowerPoint presentations?

While the Palm Beach Post bears down on Florida Atlantic University, the Toledo Blade is bearing down on its own local university scandal.

The University of Toledo's athletic department has for years been going about things in its own way, with very little oversight, and the results are as corrupt as you might expect. [Go here for background.] The Blade chatted with an increasingly pissed off Dr. Jacobs, president of the university (Jacobs is pissed off at the paper for asking questions, not at his athletic department), about the many misdeeds of his athletic department -- and in particular, this one:

[The president of the University of Toledo] also addressed the situation with Suzette Fronk, a former assistant athletic director for business affairs whose position was eliminated with the merger of UT and the former Medical University of Ohio, according to UT officials.

The work formerly done by Ms. Fronk will be done in the office of finance and strategy, university officials have said.

An attorney representing Ms. Fronk, Kevin Greenfield, last week told The Blade his client was fired by UT officials because of her questioning of improper spending in the athletic department. He said he is considering legal action on behalf of Ms. Fronk.

In an interview with The Blade last week, Dr. Jacobs insisted Ms. Fronk was not fired or removed from her job, but that her position had been eliminated as part of the UT-MUO merger. At one point in the interview he became angry, threatening to “terminate” the interview when asked if he was concerned about athletic officials’ decisions.

University e-mails obtained by The Blade show that for the past two years Ms. Fronk warned athletic officials that spending needed to be kept in check because the department was running a deficit. She butted heads with coaches and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien several times when she refused to approve what she considered improper expenditures. She was backed up repeatedly by top UT finance officials, but that didn’t save her job.

The day Mr. O’Brien informed her that her job was being eliminated because of the university’s merger, Ms. Fronk said she was surprised. “I told him I didn’t know MCO had a football program.”

You'll never get far as a bigtime university sports program in this country with scrupulous money people running things. Gotta chuck 'em out.

UD thanks John for the link.
Finna den Blogger

'A senior Swedish minister's MBA was taken at a notorious American 'degree mill' it has emerged.

Labour Minister Sven Otto Littorin lists on his CV on the government's website an MBA taken at Fairfax University in the United States. The MBA was on the subject of 'a service company's establishment in the United States'.

But Swedish blog Friktion has reported that Fairfax University is listed as a so-called degree mill by many US states.

... Fairfax University applied in 2000 for accreditation from the Louisiana Board of Regents, but then withdrew its application, Friktion reports. The board noted in its minutes that "by withdrawing its application, Fairfax University agrees to discontinue operations immediately in Louisiana as an academic degree-granting institution."

Fairfax, now known as Fairfax University Institute, is today registered in the Cayman Islands. [Diploma mills do get around.]

Littorin says he took the MBA as a distance-learning course while working for Swedish-owned PR agency Strategy XXI in New York.

"I considered it to be a serious course, as I had contact with a tutor," Littorin told Expressen on Monday. Asked where the university was situated, he said he did not remember. [Hm, where was it...]

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was unimpressed by Littorin's qualification.

"We would not rate a degree taken there," said Lars Petersson, head of the department for evaluation of foreign qualifications, to Svenska Dagbladet.'

---the local---
Visit UD at Inside Higher Ed...

...for a description of her Bloomsday.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Writer as Truth-Teller

From the Deccan Herald:

[Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who just won the Orange Prize for her fiction] is doing a master’s course in African Studies at Yale, which she says gives her access to material she would never find in Nigeria, and teaches creative writing. Despite the success of [her novel] Half of a Yellow Sun, she reckons she will still need to teach to provide a steady income.

“Creative writing programmes are not very necessary,” she says. “They just exist so that people like us can make a living.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

All-Out Warfare...

...has been declared between a newspaper and an important local university. Here's hoping the Palm Beach Post gets a Pulitzer for it.

UD has already chronicled the squalid relationship between bigtime donor, fake degree holder, and unscrupulous businessman Barry Kaye and Florida Atlantic University. She has SOS'd the letter of indignation FAU's president wrote to the Post after it published a scathing account of the cynical and mercenary ways of FAU's top administrators.

Now the Palm Beach Post has done its own SOS of the same letter, on its editorial page, and it's a stunner:

Florida Atlantic University is circulating a multicount indictment of this newspaper that is inaccurate, dishonest and untruthful.

Yet in the first paragraph of a letter FAU sent last week to "the University family," President Frank Brogan, Foundation President Leslie Corley and board Chairman Norman Tripp praise the university for striving "every day to provide accurate, honest and truthful information." If FAU had done that for the past 10 weeks, FAU wouldn't have a complaint with The Post.

This began April 3, when staff writer Kimberly Miller reported what FAU called the resignation of Lawrence Davenport, the university's chief fund-raiser. Curiously, though, Mr. Davenport got a severance of nearly $600,000. Why a severance for someone who resigned? Why had Mr. Brogan failed to notify FAU's fund-raising foundation, especially since the "resignation" letter had been dated March 19? Why didn't all the trustees know about the severance?

Trying to explain, Mr. Brogan sounded like a student ducking questions from a professor. It hadn't really been a resignation, because there were "significant differences" between the president and the fund-raiser. But why would someone fired for cause deserve a severance? Firing him would have looked bad, and none of the severance will come directly from the university. In fact, it will - from concession money that otherwise would go toward student programs.

Accurate? Honest? Truthful?

Then in late April, Ms. Miller reported that FAU mega-patron Barry Kaye is marketing his life insurance business by calling himself an FAU professor and the holder of a doctoral degree. He is neither. Mr. Kaye may have donated $20 million, but colleges aren't supposed to express their thanks by handing out fake credentials.

It must be something about Boca. In 1992, The News of Boca Raton reported that philanthropist "Countess" Henrietta de Hoernle had bought her title. Ms. de Hoernle threatened to withhold donations unless the paper apologized. After charities fawned over her and slammed the newspaper, she relented.

Similarly, FAU and other organizations that benefit from Mr. Kaye's donations have defended his good works. The letter from FAU says that his "generosity should not be vilified," as it presumably has been by The Post. But the paper never has "vilified" his generosity. In fact, The Post ran an editorial on Jan. 18 praising Mr. Kaye's gift to FAU of $16 million.

But in an editorial two weeks ago, The Post again raised the main point: Does FAU care that Mr. Kaye is misrepresenting himself? The letter from FAU never addresses this point. The Post asked for a revision so we could run it, but FAU declined. [This bit is particularly damning: The president of FAU simply will not address the bogus degree issue. That's as good as admitting that the Post is right about it.] As with the Davenport affair, FAU is talking around a controversy rather than talk about it.

Instead, predictably, FAU is blaming the newspaper. News coverage of the two stories, and editorials that followed, "malign and damage the reputation of Florida Atlantic University and philanthropist Barry Kaye." The paper is "damaging the reputation" of FAU and "hurting each and every alumnus ... and also students working towards their degree (sic)." The paper's "relentless onslaught ... has the potential to negatively impact the university's relationship with donors."

From that dishonest hyperbole, people at FAU might think that The Post has been the university's worst enemy for years. They would be wrong.

For three years, The Post has supported FAU's expanded medical program, which starts next year. In 2005, The Post saluted FAU's Holocaust studies program. And since Mr. Brogan, Mr. Corley and Mr. Tripp have short memories, The Post crusaded nearly 20 years ago against a new university in Broward County that would have reduced FAU's reach and influence.

But this paper also has sounded off about things that actually could damage FAU's reputation. The best example was the illegal attempt in 2002 to give President Anthony Catanese a going-away Corvette. Now, as then, FAU's problems are secrecy and special favors - not this paper's stories, which were accurate, and its editorials.

FAU's trustees and the foundation members seem to think that their job is to protect this public university from scrutiny, not to ask questions. That isn't the way to get to the truth.
Kevan Duve's Bloomsday

My friend will transfer from GW to Columbia this September. He's spending the summer at Berkeley, studying French. Here's his account of his Bloomsday.

File this under why it's better to be living in Berkeley than in Akron [Kevan's from Akron.] ... My front door is just steps off Telegraph Avenue, where I can get my body pierced, buy flowers, visit a hipster music store, have an espresso and eat falafel without ever leaving the intersection. Just two windows around the corner is Moe's bookstore, which hosted a 13-hour reading of Ulysses today.

I dropped in near the end (10th hour) expecting them to at least be at Nighttown... they were just ending the chapter before Sirens (my edition didn't have the titles) [That'd be Wandering Rocks.]. They were seated in a circle just taking turns at breaks in the text. I wasn't there to read aloud, more out of curiosity to see what it would be like.

I know what a public celebration of music looks like (and appropriately enough, the radio station at the coffeeshop today was playing Carmina Burana); and I sort of get what a public celebration of art looks like (I haven't been to an official art exhibition but I think I get it). I was just curious to see what a celebration of literature would look, would feel like... Bloomsday being the perfect occasion.

Aside from just being funny -- Ulysses is even funnier aloud -- I did take something else away from it.

When I got to the bookstore there was a girl in a wheelchair at the top of the circle... from my vantage point I could only see ULYSSES spread-eagled in front of her face. It was soon her turn to read (wasn't even sure if she would); I looked ahead at the passage - it was, I think, mainly a list of the attendees at Dignam's funeral or something similar - certainly not a coveted passage at all. Then I heard an energetic, wry voice emerge from behind the book, almost perfectly on meter. This girl was not only managing this torrent of names and titles, but also having quite a bit of fun with it -- her voice assuming an air of snobbery (think over-refined British) while skipping through Joyce's excess of pretense.

Listening to her really made my day because you heard someone who truly loved this book... when she did put the book down it was clear she had muscular dystrophy or something related... I was absolutely stunned by her command of the prose... perhaps someone who struggles with everyday speech just bounding through Joyce like she'd read it aloud a hundred times.

For all the pooh-poohing about inaccessibility and such, seeing that proven wrong was meaningful. I certainly never thought I'd see Ulysses as an example of literature as democracy, of its equalizing power - to be enjoyed by anyone who cares to pick up a book and read. It was also nice to see art's ability to give pleasure so openly manifest - it does have quite the reach.

Be still my heart.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

James Joyce,
Portrait of the Artist
As a Young Man

The university! So he had passed beyond the challenge of the sentries who had stood as guardians of his boyhood and had sought to keep him among them that he might be subject to them and serve their ends. Pride after satisfaction uplifted him like long slow waves. The end he had been born to serve yet did not see had led him to escape by an unseen path and now it beckoned to him once more and a new adventure was about to be opened to him. It seemed to him that he heard notes of fitful music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a diminished fourth, upwards a tone and downwards a major third, like triple-branching flames leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood. It was an elfin prelude, endless and formless; and, as it grew wilder and faster, the flames leaping out of time, he seemed to hear from under the boughs and grasses wild creatures racing, their feet pattering like rain upon the leaves. Their feet passed in pattering tumult over his mind, the feet of hares and rabbits, the feet of harts and hinds and antelopes, until he heard them no more and remembered only a proud cadence from Newman:

-- Whose feet are as the feet of harts and underneath the everlasting arms.

The pride of that dim image brought back to his mind the dignity of the office he had refused. All through his boyhood he had mused upon that which he had so often thought to be his destiny and when the moment had come for him to obey the call he had turned aside, obeying a wayward instinct. Now time lay between: the oils of ordination would never anoint his body. He had refused. Why?

... The phrase and the day and the scene harmonized in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey-fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language many-coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?
A Question of Trust

"Last month, he was named Hotelier of the Year at the Asia Pacific Hotel Investment Conference," reports The Age; this month, because he made up his university qualifications and then rose high enough for someone in his past to notice him and tell on him, the chief executive of InterContinental Hotels Group's Asia-Pacific unit, Patrick Imbardelli, is over:

Imbardelli, 46, who was due to be promoted to the IHG board next month, had invented three degrees: a bachelor of arts from Victoria University, and a bachelor of sciences and a masters in business administration from Cornell University in the US.

... A spokesman for IHG said Mr Imbardelli had attended classes at the universities but never graduated. Although there were no concerns over his ability to do the job, the spokesman reportedly said: "With something like this, the fundamental basis of trust is undermined."

This trust thing is the point I was making about MIT's dismissal of Marilee Jones a few weeks ago - she was the admissions person who lied about all of her degrees too. I argued against Barbara Ehrenreich's claim that MIT had to get rid of her because she undermined the sanctity of the almighty college degree ("She had claimed three degrees, although she had none," wrote Ehrenreich. "If she had done a miserable job as dean, MIT might have been more forgiving, but her very success has to be threatening to an institution of higher learning: What good are educational credentials anyway?"). As I wrote then, "Ehrenreich wrongly assumes MIT had something in mind about the inherent worth of a college degree when it dismissed Jones. There's no reason to assume this. MIT had the trustworthiness of highly responsible administrators in mind."

Friday, June 15, 2007

People do tend to go all out. This garden art
was done in 2004, for the Bloomsday centennial.
Bloomsday's tomorrow.
Snapshots from Home

So we're all shaking hands and introducing ourselves in the conference room at Inside Higher Ed's offices (two blocks from UD's GW office) yesterday, and it turns out that Susan Herbst, interim president of SUNY Albany, one of the IHE reporters there, and UD, had all attended or taught at Northwestern University. Medill, the school of journalism there, was mentioned a lot, and UD said that she'd spent a year at Medill but hadn't liked it much, and had transferred to the English department.

"And look at you now," said Herbst, meaning you became a journalist anyway.

UD explained that her primary job was in fact as an English professor down the street. But UD was happy to think that here at IHE among other journalists she was taken for a journalist too. She was happy that IHE had given her the opportunity to be a journalist, as well as a professor.... Which is the subject of a nice piece this morning in the Chronicle of Higher Education.... I mean, being a professor and a journalist.


When UD was making plans to drop out of grad school in English at the University of Chicago -- Wayne Booth talked her out of doing it -- she started looking into journalism positions in the city. One magazine looking for writers was Dog World.

Having grown up with dogs (UD's mother showed and bred English Cocker Spaniels), and having equal respect for freelance and academic forms of writing, UD had no objection to writing for Dog World, and intended to apply for a job there.

She was sitting in a leathery woody old student lounge in the humanities building at the university, paging through the latest Dog World and imagining her new life on its staff, when the man who would later become Mr. UD walked in, got his coffee, and sat down next to her. He gazed long and long at Dog World. Occasionally he glanced at the book he'd brought -- Being and Time or something -- and then stared again for a long time at Dog World.

"Why are you reading a magazine called Dog World," he asked superciliously.

"I'm applying for a job there."


"No. I'm leaving grad school. I'm thinking of writing for Dog World."

Mr. UD laughed. "Dog World."

Until that moment I hadn't really lined up, for clear comparison, writing articles comparing flea shampoos and writing essays about James Merrill. Until that moment I hadn't realized that the very title of the magazine sounded ominous...

So Mr. UD, in his own obnoxious way, also helped keep UD in grad school.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nothing to See Here!

'University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs yesterday ordered a massive restructuring of the UT athletic department, citing problems with team travel, lack of financial control, and unlawful handling of medications.

The expansive reorganization calls for many actions within the department, from urging dismissal of the department’s team doctor to moving sports accounting and bookkeeping from the athletic department to the finance department.

Dr. Jacobs also focused on athletes, mandating that “every basketball and football player, with the exception of incoming freshmen” be interviewed by outside/special counsel and a faculty athletics representative to determine their eligibility for the upcoming season.

Despite the reorganization of the department, Dr. Jacobs said he continues to support Athletic Director Mike O’Brien and is recommending that his contract be extended or renewed. [Everything's fine!]

Dr. Jacobs’ directives come more than two months after the FBI announced a point-shaving investigation involving a UT football player, and one day after The Blade questioned top university finance officials about improper spending within the athletic department.

The university president said the overall shakeup of the athletic department is being done to ensure UT’s policies are honored.

“What we’re trying to do is create a culture of compliance in this organization,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Not only in the department of athletics, but across the institution. We are an organization that believes in following the rules, and my job is to try to create a culture where people understand that we follow the rules.” [Bit convoluted there. We follow the rules here. We're creating a culture in which people will follow the rules here.]

The UT athletic department has had its problems, beginning in October of 2006 when the NCAA approached university officials three days before the UT-Kent State football game on Oct. 14, notifying them that a large bet had been placed on the game.

The NCAA later informed Mr. O’Brien in an email that no further investigation was warranted at the time, but football player Harvey “Scooter” McDougle, Jr., was arrested by the FBI in March on charges that he conspired with a Detroit-area gambler to fix scores of UT games. Those charges were later dropped.

Two weeks later, a second football player — Richard Davis — was charged with attempted aggravated burglary after he mistakenly broke into an off-duty Lucas County sheriff’s deputy’s house looking to settle a dispute with a teammate. Mr. Davis was carrying a gun.

A Blade investigation has found numerous examples of questionable spending by the athletic department, spending that Dr. Jacobs confirmed was also being investigated by UT officials.

Records obtained by The Blade show that the wives and girlfriends of UT coaches, and boosters and other nonessential personnel, were allowed to fly with the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams at university expense. Records also show that coaches traveled to Germany and charged trip expenses to their UT credit cards.

UT’s president said these issues and others currently being examined by the university are what caused him to make changes within the athletic department.

“We have a set of values listed in our strategic plan that we’re trying to live out, and whatever we encounter in other internal assessments, we deal with them openly,” Dr. Jacobs said. “If there’s something wrong, we’ll fix it.”

Dr. Jacobs said he asked the university’s internal compliance officer to begin looking at some internal control issues within the athletic department more than two months ago. He said the investigation is still ongoing and is currently focusing on “travel and other fiscal issues.”

Previously the investigation centered around coaches’ compliance with eligibility rules, the athletes’ study and training habits, and medical practices within the department.

Dr. Jacobs said the findings are added to a running report that is currently protected from public release by attorney-client privilege.

But in that report, according to a letter written yesterday by Dr. Jacobs to Mr. O’Brien, is evidence that “applicable laws” of the control of medications were violated within the athletic department.

The university president ordered that the “inventory, storage, and dispensing of medications” in the department be placed “immediately” under the direction of the university’s director of pharmacy.

Dr. Jacobs also urged Mr. O’Brien to replace current team physician Dr. Roger Kruse with a “full-time university employee physician in an effort to improve the conformity to applicable laws concerning the control of medications.”

Dr. Jacobs told The Blade yesterday that he didn’t think there were any medications distributed to the wrong persons, and there were no athletes harmed. He said because the UT investigation found that rules or laws were violated, he was considering whether to refer the matter to prosecutors.

“One of the things that comes out of [UT’s merger with the Medical University of Ohio last year] is that we have a pharmacy that knows [medication control laws] and practices those practices,” Dr. Jacobs said. “This allows me to put our pharmacist in charge of those issues.”

Other changes Dr. Jacobs is implementing include:

• The compliance officer within the athletic department will now report to UT’s institutional compliance officer rather than Mr. O’Brien.

• All athletic accounting and bookkeeping will be conducted by the university’s finance department.

• UT football coach Tom Amstutz and men’s basketball coach Stan Joplin will now report directly to Mr. O’Brien. Previously, the two coaches reported through Mike Karabin, who is the university’s senior associate athletic director for marketing and promotions.

Dr. Jacobs said switching who the coaches report to was not something inspired by the investigation.

“This is something I’ve decided to do on my own,” he said. “I’ve discussed this with [Mr. O’Brien] and he certainly has no objection to it.”

Mr. O’Brien did not speak directly with The Blade yesterday, but released a statement through the UT athletic media relations department supporting Dr. Jacobs’ changes.

“Dr. Jacobs and I have been in conversation about the changes in the structure of the athletic department, and I see these changes as being very positive,” Mr. O’Brien said. “… I perceive this as an opportunity to make our department stronger and more responsive to the changing nature of intercollegiate athletics.”

Dr. Jacobs also informed Law Professor James Klein that he will no longer be the faculty athletics representative. Those duties will be assumed by Alice Skeens, associate professor of psychology.

Mr. O’Brien was also ordered by UT’s president to implement an educational program for all athletes in areas “such as gambling, dealing with agents, and the effects of, and prohibitions relating to alcohol and drug usage.”

The athletic director was instructed to “improve the process for discipline of student athletes who violate team rules, university policies, and NCAA and MAC rules and regulations.”

“You will pay particular attention to the sports of football and men’s basketball, where I believe there is unusual vulnerability for student-athletes.”

The point-shaving charges against Mr. McDougle, 22, were dropped by federal investigators in April, but attorneys for both sides agreed that the case against the UT running back is far from over.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Mr. McDougle allegedly took bribes from Detroit gambler Ghazi Manni in return for finding UT football and basketball players willing to affect the point margins — although not necessarily the outcome — of games.

President Jacobs said yesterday that the point-shaving scandal was not the reason UT football and basketball players would be interviewed by an attorney before they play next season.

“None of these actions are a direct result of that. Ascertaining, determining the eligibility of athletes, is a really important issue, and I just want to be sure that this year it is done very, very well,” he told The Blade. [Everything's fine... Just, you know, fine tuning this and that...]

Does this mean Dr. Jacobs has lost confidence in Mr. Joplin and Mr. Amstutz?

“Do they have my support in everything? Possibly not,” he said. “I don’t know what everything is that they do. Do I hold them accountable? We have 7,000 employees. I hold every one of them accountable for our value system. I hold them accountable for doing their job, everyone accountable for following the rules of the state, the NCAA.”

As for Mr. O’Brien, Dr. Jacobs said he wants him to remain as athletic director, but is appointing a committee to advise him on whether that should happen.

“I think Mr. O’Brien has done an excellent job in scheduling games with opponents,” Dr. Jacobs said. “He’s done a great job of organizing, he’s a good leader, and furthermore, he’s a friend and good person. I would like very much to extend his contract, but I’d like to create an objective process to advise me.

“The changes I’ve made here are not a reflection of his job performance.” [No connection at all. Everything's fine.]'

---toledo blade---
51 Tackles, Three Interceptions, One Million Bail

'University of Montana cornerback Jimmy Wilson was charged with murder after being accused of shooting a man during an altercation earlier this month.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told the Antelope Valley Press of Palmdale that Wilson was in custody Wednesday. A deputy, Kelly Simon, identified Wilson as a Montana football player.

Wilson was being held in Los Angeles County on $1 million bail. He turned himself in to authorities Tuesday in Lancaster, which is about an hour northeast of Los Angeles.

... Wilson started as a junior for the Grizzlies last season. He had 51 tackles and three interceptions for the Division I-AA playoff team.'
Tomorrow Afternoon...

...(look at the time -- make that this afternoon) UD's visiting the offices of Inside Higher Ed, here in DC. She's looking forward to meeting the staff, to seeing the premises, and to getting a sense of the reality of the place.

She'll also join some other people there to have lunch with Susan Herbst, appointed interim president of SUNY Albany after the drowning death of Kermit L. Hall (UD reported his death here).

Herbst has been handling one particularly sticky problem for a few months -- the insane raise SUNY -- i.e., the taxpayers of New York -- just gave one of Albany's professors. IHE wrote about it:

A striking, $140,000+ annual salary increase for the head of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York at Albany has attracted attention as the largest payroll raise in state history, according to The New York Post, which broke the story Monday.

Under the new agreement, the base state salary for Alain E. Kaloyeros, a professor of nanosciences and vice president and chief administrative officer for the college, rose from $525,000 to roughly $667,000.

That’s in addition to money he earns from his research efforts: In the 2006 fiscal year, he also received $258,701 based on his generation of external grants, contracts, licenses and royalties...

... Kaloyeros’s base state salary alone is now more than double the average $325,000 presidential salary at a doctoral institution [He makes tons more than Herbst.], and more than four times the average $153,951 salary for an executive vice president, according to data on administrative salaries released by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) in February. (Relative to his professorial hat, his new base state salary is more than eight times the average $81,329 brought home by full professors in the physical sciences).

He also makes $500,000 more than the governor, an AP article points out. What's he do with all of it?

...Kaloyeros is a colorful figure with a penchant for high-powered sports cars. Several years ago, his stable of vehicles included a Porsche Boxster with a license plate that read “GEEK.”

Why is this story attracting - and maintaining - so much attention? After all, Kaloyeros is bringing all kinds of money and investment to the state... He's an enormously valuable commodity who's always fielding job offers and threatening to leave... Every time he threatens, SUNY throws more money at him, Porsche stables being a very expensive hobby...

The unease people feel in this situation is rather like the unease many in the Harvard community felt when they realized that their fund managers were getting almost thirty million dollars in salary. Universities are non-profit institutions. When they start acting like for-profits, paying their people at corporate levels, observers wonder whether the designation "university" means anything anymore. And Harvard is private. SUNY as a public institution will attract far more criticism for behaving in this way.

For UD, the real problem with the fund managers and with people like Kaloyeros is that they don't belong at universities because they are much more about greed than intellectuality. In fact the fund managers left Harvard as soon as people breathed a word of criticism about their salaries. Their salaries are the most important thing to the fund managers; they'll go where they're paid the highest. Similarly, Kaloyeros, although aware that his outrageous money demands are making trouble for Herbst, for the SUNY system, and for the state, clearly intends to keep shaking everyone down so he can increase his fleet of sports cars.

By the way... A recent ex-chancellor of SUNY, Robert King, had a related car problem [for background, go here]. King attracted negative attention to himself and to SUNY because he maintained, at state expense, a team of three chauffeurs, Tom, Ray, and Ed. Tom, Ray, and Ed were there (combined salary, $170,000 plus) at King’s bidding to transport him from place to place in the course of his busy day (UD's quoting here and in what follows from that earlier post).

According to one press account at the time, ‘One government reform activist questioned whether SUNY needs a driving staff for officials in light of recent budget cuts and tuition increases. "At a time when so many cuts are being proposed, the question is, is everyone sharing in the sacrifice?" said Rachel Leon of Common Cause New York.'

Monetary greed was also a factor in the King case: Having gathered to himself a "$250,000 salary and $90,000 housing allowance [which] already make him the highest-paid official in the state,” Mr. King then asked (this all happened in 2005) “for a six-month paid leave of absence to pursue professional and personal goals. He pulled the request within a week after an outcry.”

The main point I wanted to make, though, has to do with the car theme.

‘Some students said the drivers did not seem to be a good use of SUNY's funds. Emily Kern, a senior at the State University College at Purchase in Westchester County, said she has seen student fees go up and the number of full-time professors fall. "The students aren't a priority really at all," said Kern, 22, of Long Island, a senior art and psychology major. ’

UD sees an intriguing boys and their toys angle emerging in the ongoing SUNY saga...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

UD's Essay...

... titled "The Online Amplification Effect" can be ordered here. The organization is the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Bloomsday in Roxbury

Michael Duffy, a reader, sends UD the following Bloomsday (well, one day after Bloomsday -- they're stretching the celebration into a full week in Dublin, so I think this is fine) event information:


SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 3 - 5PM

Guiness, Irish stew, colcannon, steak and kidney pie


8901 Y SAUK CITY, WI 608 643 8434


Duffy's in the Irish musical group that's performing at Roxbury Tavern that afternoon -- it's in Roxbury, Wisconsin. He says they'll give you free beer and an Irish dinner if you'll get up and read a passage from Ulysses.
'Complete Lack of Pretension as a Person.'

My man McLemee, at Inside Higher Ed, has a marvelous meditation on Richard Rorty this morning, which includes a lengthy statement by Morris Dickstein. Here's part of what Dickstein said:

“To my mind... [Rorty] was the only intellectual who gave postmodern relativism a plausible cast, and he was certainly the only one who combined it with Dissent-style social democratic politics. He admired Derrida and Davidson, Irving Howe and Harold Bloom, and told philosophers to start reading literary criticism. His turn from analytic philosophy to his own brand of pragmatism was a seminal moment in modern cultural discourse, especially because his neopragmatism was rooted in the ‘linguistic turn’ of analytic philosophy. His role in the Dewey revival was tremendously influential even though Dewey scholars universally felt that it was his own construction. His influence on younger intellectuals like Louis Menand and David Bromwich was very great and, to his credit, he earned the undying enmity of hard leftists who made him a bugaboo.”

McLemee notes

Rorty’s consistent indifference to certain pieties and protocols. He was prone to outrageous statements delivered with a deadpan matter-of-factness that could be quite breathtaking. The man had chutzpah.

It’s a “desirable situation,” he told an interviewer, “not to have to worry about whether you are writing philosophy or literature. But, in American academic culture, that’s not possible, because you have to worry about what department you are in.”

... UD wasn't surprised to read of Antioch College closing, because her blogpal Ralph Luker, who at one time taught there, told her a few months ago that it was likely to happen. (Ralph has a good roundup of links on the story.)

Nor was she surprised by this comment by a trustee about confidentiality:

Ms. Winslow, who has been a university trustee for 12 years, the greatest length of service among the 26 board members, declined to comment on the board's stewardship of the college, citing board confidentiality policies. But she said most of the college's alumni are likely to believe the board has neglected the college in trying to oversee the larger system.

Now ain't that a bit of silly? Longtime readers know UD considers American academia in general confidentiality-addled, refusing to talk about this and about that because after all we must respect confidentiality... And yet here's an example, IMHO, of how absurd reflexive confidentiality can be. This college has passed on. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. What's being protected here?

And note what the policy forces this woman to say -- I mean, it's odd, isn't it, rhetorically, how she can only acknowledge that "most of the college's alumni are likely to believe the board has neglected" things? The poor woman can't even defend herself... Or is she tacitly acknowledging the truth of the alumni's belief? We'll never know because... it's confidential...
Li'l Rascals

'...Gil Fuller, [the vitamin maker] Usana's senior vice president and chief financial officer, has been described as a certified public accountant but let his license to practice public accounting lapse in 1986, long before he joined the company.

...Fuller is the fourth company official to have to revise his resume recently.

Usana sales associate Ladd R. McNamara, who called himself a licensed medical doctor, quit the company's medical advisory board last week after The Wall Street Journal reported his medical license had been suspended in Georgia and Ohio.

"He had stopped practicing medicine for some time, but the important thing to remember about Ladd is he was on a non-decision making board - really an idea board," Fuller said.

Other Usana officials have claimed degrees they didn't have.

In March, Denis Waitley resigned as a director after acknowledging he didn't have a master's degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., that proxy statements claimed was his.

And Timothy Wood, vice president of research and development, changed his resume to show his Yale University doctorate was in forestry, not biology as he had claimed.

Fuller said Wood's dissertation was on a topic of biology and that he found it easier to describe his education by saying his degree was in biology....'


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UD Today.
Oh Kaye!

Sunday's Palm Beach Post carried the following article:

I Give I Take It Pays!

Florida Atlantic University budget chief Ken Jessell says FAU conducts Internet searches on donors such as Barry Kaye, the self-made millionaire who has donated more than $20 million to the school and for whom FAU's business college is named. A loud hint that FAU may need to begin inquiring a bit more closely came after a Palm Beach Post check with the Florida Department of Financial Services.

That public records request uncovered two past investigations of Mr. Kaye, and FAU was aware of neither. Add new allegations that FAU failed to uncover - Mr. Kaye's company may be involved in defrauding a 73-year-old woman - and the fact that Mr. Jessell says he is not concerned is of some concern.

Mr. Kaye is known by the ads that echo the title of his latest book: You Buy You Die It Pays! His business is part of a new industry. Investors buy life insurance policies of senior citizens in hopes that they will die sooner rather than later. The Post reported last week that after a state investigator wrote in 2004 that Mr. Kaye's publicity was "grandiose" and could "lure unsophisticated consumers" to the free insurance seminars he offers, Mr. Kaye reached settlements with the state on two cases dating to 2002.

The new allegations come amid questions about Mr. Kaye's business symposia held on FAU's campus, replete with newspaper ads designed by FAU and carrying FAU's logo and Web address, and brochures listing him as FAU professor "Dr. Barry Kaye" although he is not an FAU professor and holds no traditional Ph.D. [Background on this here.] Now, a state Office of Insurance Regulation complaint says one woman would have received "substantially" more than $968,832 for her two insurance policies worth $19.4 million had she been dealt with in good faith, in a transaction on which Mr. Kaye's company earned $800,000 in commissions for work regulators could not specify.

Mr. Jessell is serving as interim head of the FAU Foundation, which President Frank Brogan had hoped might finance some of the still unexplained $577,950 severance for the fund-raising arm's former director, Lawrence Davenport. At least some FAU trustees, however, are expressing concern about misuse of the university's name and logo, and urging new naming policies.

Mr. Kaye is leveraging his relationship with FAU. His attitude contrasts with that of FAU's largest donor, the Schmidt family, which made a quiet, yet nationally record-setting donation of $75 million for the Charles E. Schmidt Medical Center on FAU's Boca Raton campus. How long does FAU intend to tolerate Mr. Kaye's behavior?

FAU's president has issued, in response, the following campus letter:

Subject: To the University Community [Oh hell, SOS can't help sneaking in here... In what way is "To the University Community" a Subject?]

Over the last several weeks, the Palm Beach Post has written several articles and editorials about the University and philanthropist Barry Kaye. The University shared its stance on the newspaper's position through a letter to the editor, which the editorial board members have indicated they will not run as submitted. [Stance... indicated... There's already evidence that we have here what's formally known as a corncob-up-the-ass writer.]

We strongly believe the University family should know our opinion on the issues raised by the news outlet. Below, you will find a copy of the letter we provided to the newspaper. We would like to thank you for your continued support. [Who's we, and what support is he talking about? UD got this letter from a faculty member at FAU who is not at all supportive.]

June 7, 2007

To the Editor:

The primary mission of any university is to serve as a forum where knowledge is imparted to its constituents. [Oy. Why not start pontificating about the primary mission of universities in a letter to a newspaper editor about a shady businessman who's taking advantage of your school...] Great responsibility comes with serving as a vehicle for this knowledge -- universities must strive every day to provide accurate, honest and truthful information. [Gevalt. Whatever word gets you past "pompous" applies here.] A similar responsibility is expected of the press. This is why we can no longer continue to tolerate the clear attempts made in the last several weeks by the Palm Beach Post to malign and damage the reputations of Florida Atlantic University and philanthropist Barry Kaye. [Again, get the "we" business. If I were a student or faculty member at FAU, I wouldn't be too happy with the president's papal approach. I realize this letter has three writers -- see below -- but in the context of the president's beginning this by thanking everyone for their support, it feels as though he's speaking for the FAU community.]

In its latest editorial of June 3, the Palm Beach Post stated its official position on a variety of subjects pertaining to FAU, including a current professional regulatory agency investigation of Barry Kaye's company. In the editorial, the Post calls a question, "How long does FAU intend to tolerate Mr. Kaye's behavior?" The Post is clearly hungry to condemn Barry Kaye, rushing to judgment without allowing due process to take its course in the completion of the regulatory review. The timing of the Post's editorial is particularly upsetting; coming one day after the Sun-Sentinel reported that the investigation of Mr. Kaye may be the result of an error. Is it the Post's contention that FAU should not "tolerate" Mr. Kaye potentially being the victim of a mistake?

By taking this reckless action, the Post is not only damaging the reputation of an institution of higher education that is making great strides in programmatic and research endeavors but is also hurting each and every alumnus whose degree carries the University name and also students working towards their degree. [Inept run-on sentence. Barry needs to fund some ghost writers.] Furthermore, the Post's relentless onslaught against the University has the potential to negatively impact the University's relationships with donors. [To negatively impact. Gag me.]

Like so many of our benefactors, Mr. Kaye is a friend to FAU. It is with his gift of $16 million to the University -- the largest single gift in FAU's history -- that FAU is able to provide some of the best educational opportunities for its students. Kaye's gift establishes a school of finance, insurance and economics; develops an institute of insurance in philanthropy; and extends far beyond our current capacity the ability to hire world class faculty. Kaye has also donated an additional $900,000 to create gathering space for alumni in the alumni center and established an endowment fund in integrative arts education and outreach in the arts and letters college. The philanthropic support of the Kayes also allowed the University to completely renovate its performing arts auditorium lobby.

Barry Kaye's sustained and extraordinary generosity should not be vilified. [Sleazy pseudo-logic. The paper's not vilifying the generosity. It's vilifying evidence of illegality, as well as Barry's pretend doctorate, which degrades the university's name, and in which the university conspires.] It should be emulated. Newspapers that make the community aware of generous university contributions help instill a sense of charity within others and provide the community a service. Vilifying donors does not serve the community. [The rhetoric here - lecturing a free press on how it's compelled to issue good news - is amazing.]

As part of the University's responsibility to its faculty, staff and students, there are a number of tools the University employs [Mr. Jessell's one of them.] to ensure that our friends and donors have the best interest of the University at heart. The University has and will continue to exercise due diligence to ensure our donor gifts remain in the best interests of the University.

We remind the Palm Beach Post editorial board members again of their responsibility to provide for its readers clear, accurate and honest opinions based on fact.


Frank T. Brogan
Florida Atlantic University

Leslie M. Corley
Florida Atlantic University Foundation, Inc.

Norman Tripp
Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees


The Combination of an Impeccable Argument
and a First-Rate Writing Style Will Always
Get You Where You Want to Go... this stellar opinion piece in today's Inside Higher Ed demonstrates. The writer is so good that even though he's too emotional (being too emotional is poison when arguing anything) it doesn't matter. Polemically, he's completely in the right, and stylistically I just want to kiss him.

Let us see how he makes UD/SOS adore him.

On April 11, the president of Columbia University announced that it had received a $400 million pledge from alumnus John W. Kluge, who in 2006 was 52nd on the Forbes list of the wealthiest people, earning his fortune through the buying and selling of television and radio stations. This gift, payable upon the 92-year-old’s death, will be the fourth largest ever given to a single institution of higher education.

Emotional, you say? The man's a data machine! Well, hold on. He knows he can't hit you up with his anger just yet. He's got to run some numbers by you. And $400 million. That's a big one.

With such a massive transfer of wealth, the accolades poured in, justifying such a gift to an Ivy League university. Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, said: “The essence of America’s greatness lies, in no small measure, in our collective commitment to giving all people the opportunity to improve their lives… [Kluge] has chosen to direct his amazing generosity to ensuring that young people will have the chance to benefit from a Columbia education regardless of their wealth or family income.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicated that investing in education produces returns that can’t be matched. Rep. Charles Rangel said the gift would ensure greater numbers of students can afford a first-class education.

Laying it on even more thick here. Taking a risk, too, because he's about to argue that this form of philanthropy isn't philanthropy at all, but the rankest bullshit. Yes, yes, everyone's happy, and what a wonderful thing to give all that money to a university like Columbia...

Next paragraph only has one line, and a short one at that:

Oh please!

Goody, goody. Now we get down to it. Hold on tight.

I am becoming less and less tolerant of people who pass wealth on to the privileged and masquerade it as philanthropy. Philanthropy is the voluntary act of donating money, goods or services to a charitable cause, intended to promote good or improve human well being. When a billionaire gives money that will benefit people who are more than likely already well off or who already have access to huge sums of money, attending the ninth richest university by endowment, this is not philanthropy. This simply extends the gross inequities that exist in our country — inequities that one day will come home to roost. [Sure, come home to roost is a cliche. I don't care. I love him. I forgive him.]

Almost 40 percent of all college students nationally earned a Pell Grant, which in general represents students from families earning less than $35,000 a year. Yes, almost 40 percent of students in college today are from low income families. At Columbia, where tuition and fees alone tops $31,000, only 16 percent of students are Pell Grant eligible. In fact, over 60 percent of Columbia students don’t even bother to apply for federal financial aid. They can pay the bill — no problem (see the Economic Diversity of Colleges Web site). Columbia is not alone. A recent New York Times article, which provided a great story on a recent Amherst College graduate, indicated that 75 percent of students attending elite colleges come from the top socioeconomic quartile, while only 10 percent come from the bottom half, and just 3 percent from the bottom quartile.

For comparison, 83 percent of my students received the Pell Grant during that same year, and 84 percent applied for financial aid. Even with tuition and fees less than $9,000 a year, my students on average will leave college with MORE debt than Columbia students, in fact $11,000 more even though tuition and fees are $22,000 a year less! [Yes, UD SPEETS on the exclamation mark. I don't care. I forgive him. I love him.]

I am hopeful that Columbia will do as it states it will, which is to expand the number of scholarship grants to needy students. President Bollinger has been a strong advocate for affirmative action, and I am very hopeful because he has shown great integrity. But even assuming that Columbia spends the money on aid, and that it couldn’t spend more of its existing money on poor students, not to mention admitting more of them, the university’s current campaign has a goal of $1 billion for facilities – that’s an astronomical sum of “philanthropy” to help a wealthy institution have better facilities. And Columbia isn’t alone — as there are similarly ambitious spending plans by the other public and private universities currently seeking to raise billions of dollars.

The writer goes on to note that the situation isn't much better at public universities, that in both private and public universities the trend is toward the shutting out of truly needy students and toward a concentration of wealthy students. He continues:

America’s so-called philanthropists ignore these facts, and we continue to laud their generosity to the privileged. At the same time, people of color continue to fall further and further behind, and unless we begin to help those who actually need help, America’s economy will suffer.
Fat, over-endowed universities with well-off students and a few less well-off keep struggling populations down, and make social unrest and economic instability more likely.


Our political leaders must begin to challenge the wealthy to practice real philanthropy. They should be encouraged to give gifts that will benefit a greater number of people with real need (most of their constituents), versus a wealthy minority ... It is time for us to restore the integrity of philanthropy, and call gifts to the wealthy what they really are — the perpetuation of privilege.

It all reminds me of the Larry Ellison/Harvard University dustup a few months ago, when everyone got all upset because Larry was going to give hundreds of millions to Harvard (current endowment close to thirty billion dollars) but then decided not to. Oh please.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Who the hell ate cheese in Ulysses?
And check out the price.

'Ripe for the Moment

The entirety of James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place on June 16th, a date that now commemorates the author, as well as his main character, Leopold Bloom. To celebrate Bloomsday next Saturday, pints will be a-pouring from Dublin to Brooklyn as Joyceans frolic, and at the market, Cato Corner will be cutting perfectly aged, caramel-sweet, crumbly wedges of their raw-milk, year-old Bloomsday cheese. If you neglected to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month (April), kill two birds with this recipe. ($26 per pound for the year-old Bloomsday, $21 per pound for the regularly available six-month Bloomsday, at Cato Corner, available Saturday).'

--- new york magazine ---

(Yeah, fine, Bloom eats a Gorgonzola cheese sandwich in Lestrygonians...)
Texas Inching Up in
Fulmer Cup Rankings

The Fulmer Cup honors, each year, the country's most criminal university athletic team. The University of Texas does not at this time appear among the top five Fulmer contenders, but just this month its prospects have dramatically improved:

University of Texas safety Robert Joseph has joined the growing list of professional and college athletes making the police blotter with increasing frequency these days.

The 19-year-old Joseph was arrested in the wee hours of Saturday morning after being charged with two misdemeanor counts of burglary of a vehicle.

Joseph was booked at approximately 4:30 a.m. at the Travis County Jail on $6,000 bond after being arrested after running from a security guard who found Joseph sitting in a car that didn't belong to him at a downtown hotel, according to the arrest affidavit.

Like many schools and professional franchises that are tiring of dealing with players who find themselves in off-field trouble these days, Joseph was immediately suspended indefinitely by the Longhorns. [UD isn't sure whether suspended players are counted for the Fulmer...]

... Joseph's arrest is the second for the Longhorn's football team this month alone.

Junior defensive end Henry Melton was arrested on June 1 and charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

Joseph's arrest affidavit states that Joseph was spotted in a vehicle by an off-duty Austin police officer working security at a hotel parking garage.

Joseph reportedly told the officer that the vehicle belonged to a friend, but fled quickly as the officer began to verify the owner's identity.

Shortly thereafter, the officer again found Joseph sitting in another car. According to the affidavit, Joseph was arrested after telling the officer he was breaking into vehicles to get away from someone who attacked him at a downtown club.
I Take Back
Everything I've
Ever Said About

'The U.S. intelligence budget may be as much as $60 billion, according to figures that slipped out in a government PowerPoint presentation.

The intelligence budget is a highly guarded secret of the U.S. government, and figures and charts released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may have been more revealing than intended.

The ODNI released an unclassified PowerPoint presentation in May that disclosed for the first time the percentage of the U.S. intelligence budget allocated to private contractors: 70 percent, a figure startling in itself.

A bar graph included in the presentation illustrated the rise in number of contracts awarded since Sept. 11, 2001, but withheld the figures used to produce the graph.

Accessing the DNI presentation on the office's Web site, intelligence blogger R.J. Hillhouse [cherchez le bloggeur...] used functions in PowerPoint to uncover the figures entered in a spreadsheet to generate the graph.

"By taking the 70 percent of the intelligence community budget that now goes to contractors in conjunction with the actual dollars spent on contractors, it is possible to reverse-engineer the budget using simple algebra," Hillhouse wrote. [UD could've done this for sure.]

Using these figures, Hillhouse estimated that the intelligence budget for fiscal year 2006 was closer to $60 billion, nearly 25 percent higher than the $45-48 billion figure typically projected.

The PowerPoint presentation publicly released by the DNI was removed from the government Web site shortly after reports by Hillhouse and others emerged. ['Oh shit...! Take it down!']

Advocates of open government and some U.S. legislators question whether the intelligence budget should remain classified, a practice that dates back to the Cold War era when U.S. government officials worried about what the Soviet Union might glean from access to records of intelligence-related purchases.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation for American Scientists, told UPI that the Soviet-era policies are "ripe for reconsideration" because adversaries like Osama bin Laden do not gain an advantage from most of the information included in the budget.

"When you classify too much, you end up with worse security ... because people come to see (classification) as a game rather than a matter of security," Aftergood said.'

It's Not How Sleazy You Make It...'s how you make it sleaze. And UD, you know, is an aficionado of sleaze served up by the finest Italian hands.

Example [SOS commentary in red.]:

In the course of its investigation [of schools throughout the Maricopa County Community College District], the Tribune interviewed dozens of past and current athletes and coaches. A reporter attempted to attend numerous [academic-credit] coaching classes but found only one meeting at its scheduled time and place. ... Typically, [when reporters went to the locations of classes at the scheduled times,] the classrooms were empty, the lights off. [These are best understood as courses in ontology: What is "being"? What would a "non-being" class look like?] The newspaper also reviewed course outlines and other material from coaching classes offered this school year.

During the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years, MCCCD data shows almost 1,000 athletes enrolled in 64 coaching classes at the Mesa, Scottsdale, South Mountain and Glendale colleges. Thirty of those classes contained only players.

Athletes made up 75 percent of all students who took coaching classes, the data shows.

“A lot of them aren’t going to be coaches, but they’re taking it because they enjoy that class,” said Amy Goff, head of SCC’s physical education department.
[Fine Italian Sleaze: The kids are okay!]

They also get good grades.

Ninety-nine percent of the athletes who completed coaching classes got passing grades. That means 951 students passed and only four failed, the data shows.

In all health and P.E. classes, only 88 percent of the athletes passed.

Maria Harper-Marinick, the district’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, said there is nothing wrong with a coach running a class as a team practice so long as the required material is covered. The required material for the coaching classes is generic she noted, saying mainly that students must learn how to produce a “motivated team.” [Fine Italian Sleaze: There's no real 'material' here, see -- This is a college course in... er... whatever you do to produce a motivated team...] The district refused a Tribune records request for copies of written exams from coaching classes held last school year. Pete Kushibab, MCCCD’s general counsel, said the release of past tests would undermine the integrity of future coaching classes. [
Really Fine Italian Sleaze: Academic integrity is what it's all about! If you so much a lay a finger on a previous test, and then you publish even one challenging question from it, our students might read it in your paper and fail to learn the material...]

If a coach chooses to teach using the same on-field techniques for class as he would for practice, “that is considered teaching methodology,” Harper-Marinick said. “In our system, it’s up to the instructor to decide for that period of time, that was the best use of time to convey information, to elicit learning.” [Fine Italian Sleaze + excellent use of pedagogical buzzwords -- It's all about the unstinting effort to elicit learning... Calling weekly ball practice a college course is part of the freedom to implement your own teaching methodology...]

... College officials insist that athletic directors are not creating classes simply to keep their players eligible.

“Let me make it very clear. Exercise science is an academic program,” said Ann Stine, chairwoman of MCC’s exercise science department. “Athletics is student services. They’re separate. Not the same.” [This bit isn't sleaze so much as, to vary Keats a little, the Vehemence is Truth, Truth Vehemence technique, in which saying something really really forcefully -- I'm gonna make this really clear -- somehow equals that thing being true.]

... [One coach/professor] balked when asked about the academic value of teaching his players these subjects. “Now you’re questioning my academic freedom,” Giovando said. [Very very fine Italian sleaze. It's called academic freedom, fucker!]

---east valley tribune---


"If it's the case that executing murderers prevents the execution of innocents by murderers, then the moral evaluation is not simple. Abolitionists or others, like me, who are skeptical about the death penalty haven't given adequate consideration to the possibility that innocent life is saved by the death penalty."

This is Cass Sunstein, a legal scholar at the University of Chicago, responding to a bunch of new studies that show the death penalty to have significant deterrent effect.

Although Sunstein remains critical of the penalty, he also remains an exponent of the supreme university ethos of analytical disinterestedness: If the data show a particular outcome -- even one profoundly at odds with his political views on a subject -- he will respect that outcome and allow it to trouble his position.

The studies, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, "count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer." One economist describes a study he and others did showing that

each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?"

Another study concludes that

The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More Rorty

'The only point in having real live professors around instead of just computer terminals, videotapes and mimeoed lecture notes is that students need to have freedom enacted before their eyes by actual human beings. ... Such enactments of freedom are the principal occasions of the erotic relationships between teacher and student that Socrates and Allan Bloom celebrate and that Plato unfortunately tried to capture in a theory of human nature and of the liberal arts curriculum. But love is notoriously untheorizable. Such erotic relationships are occasions of growth, and their occurrence and their development are as unpredictable as growth itself. Yet nothing happens in non-vocational higher education without them. Most of these relationships are with the dead teachers who wrote the books the students are assigned, but some will be with the live teachers who are giving the lectures. In either case, the sparks that leap back and forth between teacher and student, connecting them in a relationship that has little to do with socialization but much to do with self-creation, are the principal means by which the institutions of a liberal society get changed. Unless some such relationships are formed, the students will never realize what democratic institutions are good for: namely, making possible the invention of new forms of human freedom, taking liberties never taken before.'

Philosophy and Social Hope, 125-126.

...whose lucid and humane philosophical writing was a sharp rebuke to pretentious obscurantists in his and adjacent fields, has died.

He saw the tedium and self-destruction of the university left as clearly as anyone:

[This] left is a vulnerable target [because it is] extraordinarily self-obsessed and ingrown, as well as absurdly over-philosophized. It takes seriously Paul de Man's weird suggestion that 'one can approach the problems of ideology and by extension the problems of politics only on the basis of critical-linguistic analysis.' It seems to accept Hillis Miller's fantastic claim that 'the millennium [of universal peace and justice among men] would come if all men and women became good readers in de Man's sense.' When asked for a utopian sketch of our country's future, the new leftists reply along the lines of one of Foucault's most fatuous remarks. When asked why he never sketched a utopia, Foucault said 'I think that to imagine another system is to extend our participation in the present system.' De Man and Foucault were (and Miller is) a lot better than these unfortunate remarks would suggest, but some of their followers are a lot worse. This over-philosophized and self-obsessed left is the mirror image of the over-philosophized and self-obsessed Straussians. The contempt of both groups for contemporary American society is so great that both have rendered themselves impotent when it comes to national, state or local politics. This means that they get to spend all their energy on academic politics.

This is from "The Humanistic Intellectual: Eleven Theses," Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin 1999.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Sordid Story of Greek Universities...

...followed avidly on this blog and ignored by everyone else, has reached a kind of filth-climax: The rector, vice-rector, and chief accountant of Panteion University (apparently one of the better Greek universities... but what can this mean? They're all bad.) have together over five or so years stolen over ten million dollars of public funds intended for their university.

Ted Laskaris has details on his blog. First he notes the total shock and indignation of most Greeks at the severity of the jail sentences the men have gotten. After all, everybody steals from the state... why single out this pack of thieves?

After sampling expert opinion in Athens, Laskaris summarizes local attitudes:

If you are a good boy overall, it's okay to steal from and rob the public coffer.

If you are a published academic of some recognition, and choose to take your university's cash in order to decorate your villa and spend happy holidays on Mykonos with your male or female "companions," the courts should give you a symbolic sentence irrespective of the magnitude of the offense.

Punishing those who steal from the Greek taxpayer should be handled at misdemeanor level since it's not really a crime.

Punishing those who steal from the Greek taxpayer with abandon with fitting sentences causes society to descend into barbarism.

Here's some detail from Laskaris on what they did:

[They] siphoned off fat chunks of cash between 1992 and 1999 to pay for furnishing their villas with expensive fixtures, buying a Ferrari, and spending lavishly on other good life activities. The same group of conscientious officers charged the university for millions of virtual student meals and pocketed the cash thus written into the university budget.

Laskaris concludes:

Although the Panteion trial just barely scratched the surface of the enormous corruption that dominates the Greek public sector, sending some of the perpetrators down the river in chains gives us a flitting moment of satisfaction.

I'm not so sure though that the outcome of this indictment may be seen as establishing a "trend." For each Panteion-like trial, there are dozens of other infinitely more serious cases of plundering public money and strolling whistling all the way down the road to off-shore banks without the slightest brush with the law.
A Lot of Naughty Professor Stories...

...come out of business schools, departments of economics, and other university profit centers. That's something UD has learned by keeping this blog. She's always posting stories about people like Andrei Shleifer and Barry Landreth, who use federal grants, students, and other revenue sources to supplement their personal wealth.

Here's another one: A University of California Riverside business school professor has for years double dipped on his sabbatical:

The University of California Board of Regents filed a lawsuit against a longtime UC Riverside professor Friday, accusing him of repeatedly violating school policy by accepting additional income while on sabbatical.

...In the lawsuit filed in Riverside Superior Court on Friday, the regents allege Sarkis Joseph Khoury, a faculty member in UCR's Graduate School of Management since 1984, violated the school's sabbatical policy on multiple occasions: at the University of British Columbia in 1988; at Goteborg University in Sweden in 1999 and 2000; and at American University of Beirut in Lebanon in 2003 and 2004.

...University policy permits faculty to take periodic sabbatical leave at full salary and benefits, but they cannot supplement their income, the lawsuit said.

See, you're supposed to be using your sabbatical for research uninterrupted by teaching. It's a very nice thing universities do, providing these semester-long or year-long opportunities to gather your thoughts. The enterprising Khoury uses them to gather two income streams.

---the press-enterprise---
Invisible Man

There's an existential creepiness to the convoluted tale in yesterday's Boston Globe of a man who wakes up twenty years later determined to complete his college education, only to be told that he already did.

The man has no memory of this. But Boston College assures him that in the mid-1980's he graduated from the school.

"I think I would know if I graduated. And I was quite sure I hadn't," says Burnett Adams, who played basketball for BC back then.

Right after he left BC and started a professional career in Portugal, someone enrolled Adams in two courses -- Media Workshop I and R & R in Communications -- at BC. He was in Portugal, so he could not have attended. Nor did he register for them.

Looking more closely at his BC transcripts for that time, Adams discovered all sorts of other courses he took but didn't take.

Adams is pissed.

"I've been used by Boston College enough," Adams said. "I'm old enough and secure enough to acknowledge the mistakes I've made. I should have kept up my grades. But I'm not letting them use me again, just to make themselves look better by saying their black students were in school."

Professor-enablers were rampant:

[T]here were overzealous professors on campus who would occasionally give players special treatment.

"Some professors were big fans," [an insider] said. "They loved getting close to it. I'm sure there was some [impropriety] at times."

Adams said he and an unnamed teammate agreed to help a professor move his furniture in exchange for changing a failing grade to a C. Another professor, he said, complimented him on the previous weekend's game and upped his score on a test.

[P]rofessors clamored to travel with the team during the NCAA Tournament.

"They'd come up to me and say, 'Get me on one of those trips. It will help your grade,' " [a player] recalled. "They wanted me to tell the coaches I needed them there."

To make its graduation rate look slightly better than pathetic, Boston College did what some schools still do: It created imaginary courses and imaginary graduates. A disgusting practice. Boston College should stop denying it happened. It should apologize. Repentance is good for the soul.

---thanks to van and superdestroyer for the link---
'They Get More'

Her activity hasn't reached Greek levels yet, but the president of Chicago State University is certainly in there trying. She's been making free with public funds in order to take cruises and eat at fancy restaurants, etc.

[There was] sloppy record keeping and "numerous charges" to a university credit card, including meals, alcohol, cruise ship travel, theater tickets and first-class airfare, that were not supported by receipts, invoices or explanation... [There were] understatements of vacation and sick days, inadequate documentation of federal grants and miscalculation of financial aid.... Audit documents reviewed by the [Chicago] Tribune show about $19,000 in purchases Daniel made for the president's house, including some from the Home Shopping Network and Neiman Marcus. Most were not accompanied by receipts, according to the audit.

Neiman Marcus! For a modest school like Chicago State. Well, recall Patricia Slade's defense of her thievery at similarly modest Texas Southern University... The only way little schools become big schools is by thinking big!... And, you know, as Chicago State's president says of her compensation ($232,875 in salary, $75,000 for expenses on her university-owned house -- the president calls this "chump change," and at Neiman Marcus it certainly is -- $10,000 travel expenses for members of her family, etc.), plenty of other university presidents "get more."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Quote of the Day:

"Tyrone has work to do to re-establish credibility."

'New Mexico State University basketball player Tyrone Nelson has been indicted on a third charge for his alleged involvement in the robbery of pizza and hot wings from a delivery man last year. Prosecutors allege that in the days following his arrest, he attempted to hire a neighbor to take the blame for the crime.

Nelson, 21, now faces a charge of bribery of a witness in addition to charges of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He could face up to 71/2 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

"Tyrone Nelson tried to hire another individual to make a statement," Doña Ana County Chief Deputy District Attorney Amy Orlando said. "He offered to pay him money and give him some drugs to go make a report that it was him that committed the pizza robbery."

The additional charge was leveled when prosecutors were able to track down the neighbor, whom Orlando said lived in the same apartment complex as Nelson.

... The new allegation is the second time prosecutors have alleged an attempt to divert blame from Nelson by having someone make statements to police that are not credible.

At an April 2 hearing, Esparza asked that the original indictment be thrown out because Nelson's brother, Joseph, had admitted to police he was the one that committed the robbery.

But during the same hearing, assistant district attorney Jacinto Palomino argued that Joseph Nelson's statements lacked credibility. He said when Joseph Nelson was told by investigators that in clearing his brother he would also be admitting to a crime, Joseph Nelson immediately asked to speak to a lawyer.

... NMSU athletics director McKinley Boston expressed disappointment in Nelson on Thursday.

"We're obviously disappointed and have been disappointed in Tyrone in a lot of ways," Boston said. "We hope all of our student-athletes are model citizens, but that's not reality. I'm disappointed and coach (Reggie Theus) is disappointed, but at this point, we'll just let the legal system play itself out."

Boston said that Nelson is a part of NMSU and that support for the forward remains in place. At the same time however, Nelson is walking a thin line, Boston said.

"We're going to stand by him because he's a part of our family," Boston said. "But we don't have our heads in the sand. Tyrone has work to do to re-establish credibility."'

---las cruces sun news---
Cock in a Basket

'Chancellor Angela Merkel's chemistry professor husband, Joachim Sauer... has not exactly won the affection of the German media since his wife became Chancellor. On one of his first public appearances with Ms Merkel at the Bayreuth music festival, which celebrates Wagner, he was nicknamed the "Phantom of the Opera" for shying away from cameras and giving only monosyllabic responses to his neighbours at dinner. ...
He is further handicapped by a surname which literally means "sour" and has fuelled rumours that he is a humourless academic. ...[T]he German media described him, somewhat bafflingly yesterday, as a "cock in a basket"... [Hahn im Korb]'

--- belfast telegraph ---
It Was the Superior Bathroom Flooring
at Southern Miss that Closed the Deal

A former high school principal was indicted Wednesday on charges that he failed to report on-campus sex crimes to protect a star running back who eventually led his team to a state title.

Dwight Bernard, the former head of Northwestern High School, turned himself in after the indictment was released. He was taken to Miami-Dade County Jail and officials said he was posting $10,000 bond.

The misconduct charge dates back to last September, when Antwain Easterling, then an 18-year-old senior football player, allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old freshman on the floor in a school bathroom. It was described as consensual but, because of the students' ages, is considered a crime under state law.

The indictment claims Bernard was alerted about the incident by other school employees about a month later and was told it needed to be reported. It was not.

The grand jury report claims Bernard didn't report the incident and another related one because he feared it would negatively impact the top-ranked football team.

"They hoped that it 'would all go away' and allowed for the glory of football to trump the needs and safety of a little girl," the report said.

All told, the report said 21 school employees were aware of the bathroom tryst. According to the grand jury, school police only became aware of it after the girl's mother encountered an officer in December at a coffee shop.

The school district never disciplined Easterling. He was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious battery, but entered a pretrial program that will wipe his record.

Michelle Delancy, the attorney representing Bernard, said she was disappointed by the charges and that her client is "the convenient scapegoat of a failed system of accountability within the Miami-Dade County Public Schools." She said he is innocent.

Bernard was removed from the principal's job in March. Easterling has committed to play football at Southern Miss.

--- washington post ---

UD thanks Charles, a reader, for the link.
Theater of Self

In a recent post about teaching, Jon K. Williams, at Pistols in the Pulpit, hits the mark.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm,

'A tenured psychology professor at Texas Christian University remained Thursday in a Texas jail, arrested on charges that he made a “terroristic threat,” a class B misdemeanor. ...According to police reports, Bond hinted in an e-mail about bringing a submachine gun on campus. An arrest warrant affidavit cited by The Dallas Morning News said that Bond sent out harassing e-mail messages to a number of university employees last month, and made a statement saying he would spit in a colleague’s face. TCU officials would not confirm that those allegedly targeted were employees, nor would they expand on the nature of the alleged threats.

According to the affidavit, TCU already was investigating Bond and had asked him to stop communications with anyone at the university. When TCU officials requested that Bond meet with them, he refused, according to the affidavit. Then, last week, he allegedly sent an e-mail stating: “Is it possible a sexist could snap and bring an ouzi [sic] gun on the TCU campus? Might he target young women? Might others get in the way?”

Bond’s lawyers said that Bond “has had some health issues lately that may have hampered his ability to effectively communicate his message, and perhaps he was misinterpreted."'

--- inside higher education ---



Why didn't he just change his dissertation committee? He needs a judge to do that for him?

Shane Sandridge, 34, claims in [a lawsuit] that criminology professor Jennifer Gossett began making "romantic and/or sexual advances" shortly after he started the doctoral program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2001.

Gossett, who has written several articles about consensual relationships between faculty and students, heads Sandridge's dissertation committee.

In the suit, Sandridge accuses Gossett of inviting him to attend singles events with her, talking to him about her sexual relationships and problems, and trying to engage him in discussions about pornography. [The verb "accuse" doesn't seem right here. I accuse you of inviting me to singles events!]

After Sandridge told Gossett, 38, he was not interested in a romantic relationship, "Gossett actively and covertly began placing roadblocks to divert Sandridge's progress in securing his dissertation," the lawsuit alleges. [The link in this paragraph no longer works. Thanks, Tim, for telling me about that. Here's another, similar account.]

Sandridge claims in the suit he was asked to "pointlessly pursue avenues of research" that were not productive in completing his dissertation, among other issues. [Um, why not refuse to go down pointless avenues?]

Sandridge sued the school, Gossett and others this week in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, seeking unspecified damages. He also wants a judge to order the university to change his dissertation committee. [Daddy, make bad lady go away!]
Snapshots from Home

A Regular UD Series

You already know my life isn't like other people's. I don't own a television set. I don't drink alcohol (I drink almost no alcohol -- the occasional glass of wine and, during the summer, a few pina coladas. No moral objection to it. Just don't like it.). I don't drive.

It's the not driving that scandalizes everyone. The not driving plus not caring about car culture. I don't care what car Mr UD buys. Although I love to listen to Car Talk, I don't care about cars, trucks, and motorcycles. I don't care if my kid - now in learner's permit territory - gets a learner's permit (and so far she's showing less eagerness than her friends. My evil influence?).

None of this -- the not driving, the very little drinking, the not watching tv -- is ideological. Driving, at least in congested DC, pisses your life away. TV's depressing. Liquor doesn't taste good.

Anyway, here's a snapshot of last Wednesday chez UD.

Because she doesn't drive, she either gets a ride to where she wants to go from one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who do drive, or she takes a cab or the metro or a bus, or she walks.

Walking's been pleasant around here, with the mild early summer weather, and UD's doing a lot of it.

On Wednesday, she had to go to American University's library. (When AU's ex-president Benjamin Ladner was imploding due to greed issues, UD covered events closely. Type "Ladner" into the Search thing up there for background.) UD was trying to get the proper citation for The Diaries of Samuel Pepys. For the book on beauty she and her co-author are about to send off, they're obsessively checking and rechecking their footnotes and bibliography, and for an excerpt from the Pepys (pronounced peeps) diary in which he swoons over some beautiful music, UD hadn't provided a full citation.

It was on the shelf at AU, so UD - on a rather too hot and sunny day - walked the mile from her house to the metro, and then walked the two miles (I'm guessing these distances) from the station nearest AU to its campus. Helen Kaminski hat on head, prescription sunglasses on nose, she trudged.

She liked AU's library. When you get off the elevator on the third floor, you're greeted by a circle of beautiful leather chairs in front of a window overlooking a very green quad. Doesn't feel like an urban campus at all.... And there they all were, all of the volumes, including hers, Volume Nine. She pulled it off the shelf, fluttered the pages until she found her passage, noted the page number, and then noted everything else she could think of about the book (UD's never quite sure when a full citation is really really full), and then put the book back on the shelf. This took five minutes.

She then walked back to the metro station, intending to stop on the way at a music store she liked. Maybe there was a new Henry Purcell songbook. But the store had disappeared.

Back in 'thesda, she walked the last leg of her trip, to her house.

Quite a lot of effort for a citation. She enjoyed the outing, though. And, since I know you've been waiting for it:

The Diary of Samuel Pepys,
February 27, 1668. Eds. Robert Latham and William Matthews. Volume IX, 1668-1669. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, p. 94.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

UD is So Not Surprised.

She's been touting Rate My Professors for years, over the endless bitter objections of many professors.

Now Kornfield and Coladarci, two University of Maine professors, have, reports this morning's Inside Higher Education, produced a study showing a "high correlation [between RMP and] the kinds of student evaluations that colleges see as more valid [that is, between RMP and the in-house evaluations colleges fashion for themselves].

The overlap is highest among those professors who are popular on — they also do extremely well with traditional student evaluations. “The pattern of this association suggests that when an instructor’s RMP overall quality is particularly high, one can infer that the instructor ‘truly’ is regarded as a laudatory teacher,” the study says. However, the correlations are much weaker for those who don’t score well, so Coladarci is much more hesitant to assume that poor ratings are equally meaningful.

...As a result of their research, the Maine professors offer two recommendations — both of which are sure to be controversial and one of which they admit to having mixed feelings about. The recommendation that the professors make without hesitation is that colleges put their official student evaluations online. “Although students doubtless would applaud this move, many faculty would oppose it because of genuine concerns about privacy and the negative consequences,” the professors write. And indeed moves to put evaluations online have been controversial at some campuses.

But the article adds that “privacy is a thing of the past in the age of RMP, MySpace, and the like,” adding that not making such evaluations available creates its own set of problems. “Students will rely on what is publicly available,” and will thus not always be accurate in their assumptions, the Maine professors write.

The recommendation on which the authors admit to some “ambivalence” is this: “Predicated on the belief that is not going to go away, higher education institutions should consider encouraging their students to post ratings and comments on RMP,” they write. If a larger sample of students participate — and they are encouraged to be responsible in their rankings — “the potential value of that information to the institution would only be enhanced,” they write.

For UD, as faithful readers know, RMP is most revealing as an immensely powerful attack on Powerpoint use among professors. Read with any care, RMP makes clear that students rightly detest the widespead cynical and lazy use of this technology among their instructors. But UD is also pleased to see her instincts about RMP confirmed in this early study. And pleased to see Kornfield and Coladarci's recommendations.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Scathing Online Schoolmarm

An opinion piece in today's Inside Higher Education -- where UD has just proudly opened a branch campus -- assumes the thankless task of defending courses in business ethics in MBA programs.

The short essay begins promisingly, by acknowledging the absolute absurdity of the endeavor, at least as it's now conceived:

The dreaded question: "So, what are you teaching this semester?" When I reply that I teach a business ethics course, more often than not my questioner laughs and asks whether that isn't an oxymoron. And then laughs some more. [This rude response - in which UD lustily joins - reflects the staggering disconnect between a successful life as a capitalist and personal morality. As in Nice Guys Finish Last. As in a statement a journalist made at a recent meeting of the Knight Commission: "Jerry Tarkanian said nine out of ten major college teams break the rules. The tenth one's in last place."]

So it is hardly surprising that the recent cheating scandal at Duke University's business school has fueled cynicism about the teaching of business ethics. ["Fueled" is a bit weak. The writer should try to find a business-related image... Cynicism's stock has gone up? Something like that.] Business schools across the country responded to corporate wrongdoing over the last decade by emphasizing ethics within their curriculums. [Big mistake. Their students, especially at elite places like Duke, are absolutely brilliant personal-advantage maximizers -- that's why they were admitted. Now you're hitting them up with a course that flies in the face of their entire academic preparation. No wonder everyone's laughing.] In the daytime MBA at Duke, students are required to take "Leadership, Ethics and Organizations" as part of an initial three-week summer term. [Requiring people to take dumb courses guarantees an uptick in cynicism. Just ask Berkeley's faculty about the ethics course they've all got to take. Such courses almost always make the problem worse.] Yet close to 10 percent of first-year students in Duke's M.B.A. program were suspected of cheating on a take-home examination. The collective laughter would have been greater only if the accused students were in one of Duke's ethics courses.

Still we should be careful not to infer too much from the Duke cheating scandal. A successful ethics component within a business program does not guarantee that its participants will never behave immorally. [No one claims that it does.] Not even churches or prisons boast that kind of effectiveness. So why should we expect it of an ethics class? [This is getting muddy. We have a category problem. Prisons exist to punish people, not educate them in the finer points of personal morality. Churches are physical settings for worship. Sermons happen in both places, I guess, but they're not formal, graduate level, ethics lessons taught by highly paid experts.] What we expect is that when students complete the ethics component, they will approach moral problems with greater thoughtfulness and intellectual sophistication, as well as be more likely to resolve these problems in the right way. [The very phrase "the right way" suggests a lack of sophistication, at least in terms of the notorious complexity of most serious ethical dilemmas.] The goal is improvement, not perfection. [If that's the goal, ditch the courses. Instead of required courses full of bad faith platitudes, do this: Take that load of money you're spending on business school professors -- Look... why should a person teaching ethics in a business school make $150,000, and a person teaching the very same ethics in an Intro Philosophy course in a liberal arts school make -- let's make this person a part-timer... part-timers tend to get these things... make $3,500 for the course? That's not very ethical. If you're going to hire these guys in MBA settings to convey the same basic moral concepts and anecdotes the other guys are teaching, at least give them a shitty salary.]

The behavior of the Duke M.B.A. students nevertheless gives us reason to pause. How much thoughtfulness and intellectual sophistication are necessary to know that cheating is wrong? [Dat's right. The problem isn't one of content. It's one, UD will argue, of rhetoric.] Surely these young professionals did not need an ethics class to garner this important piece of moral knowledge. But if the students were aware of the wrongness of cheating all along, what kind of knowledge were they missing? What, exactly, could they have been taught in business ethics? [They've got all the knowledge they need, including the knowledge that Enron happens. It doesn't make any difference, because, as Myles Brand recently put it in an interview about university coaches slutting from job to job in search of higher salaries, "Coaches have to be free to move. We call it capitalism. We can't take away the opportunity to earn a living to the best of their ability... " Earn a living to the best... ain't that beautiful? Five million dollars a year, and then lying to everybody about how you're not going anywhere, and then getting the hell out because you got a better offer... fuck the team... These guys are MBA gods.]

There is something more for business students to learn in ethics classes, and throughout their business programs. Ethics is not just about the what of morality; it is also about the whom of morality.

In ethics, the general requirements — the what of morality — are often quite straightforward. Indeed we would be hard pressed to find anyone in our society, let alone a university-level student, who was unaware of the general prohibition on cheating. However, the application of these requirements to individuals — the whom of morality — can be significantly murkier. I dare say it would not be difficult at all to find students who genuinely believe that their circumstances justify them in violating the prohibition on cheating. [I don't see this guy's diction going over well in American MBA classrooms. He sounds like a pastor. A British pastor. Slow, pleasant, deliberative, have some tea? You can hear his students' thoughts as they sit politely in front of him pretending to take notes: Outta my way! Out-of-my-way!]

Doing the right thing in the Duke case therefore required two things. First, the M.B.A. students needed to know that cheating is generally morally wrong. Second, they needed to know that it was wrong for them to cheat in their particular circumstances. [We're getting perilously close to Barney the Dinosaur here, and no smart-as-a-whip MBA student is going to stand for it. It's obvious that the realm of ethics is about personal behavior -- the whom, as the writer calls it. You're not telling anyone anything he or she doesn't know.]

Why do people sometimes believe that moral requirements do not apply to them in the situations they face? The most compelling answer appeals to consequences. People predict that breaking the rules will have high payoffs. And where are the opposing costs? After all, rule-breaking really doesn't seem to hurt anyone else, especially in environments in which others similarly break the rules. Of course the rules of morality generally ought to be followed. But only as long as the costs aren't too high.

The consequentialist logic of business education may encourage this kind of thinking. [Encourage? It enshrines it. As one university trustee notes, "[I]n his book Moral Dimension, Amitai Etzioni equates the neoclassical economic paradigm with disregard for ethics. Sumantra Ghoshal's article "Bad Management Theories are Destroying Good Management Practices," in Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, blames ethical decay on the compensation and management practices that evolved from economic theory's emphasis on incentives."] There is no mistaking the fact that profit maximization is the chief value within many business curriculums. As a result, brief surveys of business law, discussions of company codes of conduct, or even introductions to ethical theory — the what of morality — are very likely to buckle under the comparative weight given to considerations of profit, goal achievement, cost-benefit analysis, and shareholder satisfaction.

Does this mean that business ethics really is an oxymoron? Not if business schools are willing to take the whom of morality seriously and educate students throughout the curriculum about the application of ethical requirements to all business actors. [I'm sorry. This won't do. Again, the whom is implicit in all discussions of morality.] Among other things, this kind of education would draw on traditional academic disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, and politics to help students understand their place in the world and the role of business in society. [These lame phrases - understand their place in the world... role of business in society... tell you that when taught from this angle, these courses will go absolutely nowhere, or will make matters worse.]

Ultimately, business ethics requires that we rethink the business curriculum. Business is not a closed system with its own set of values, motivations, and rules. The curriculum should reflect this fact. First, students must be able to think deeply and critically about conflicts between wealth and other values. Second, students should know more about ordinary human psychology, especially the tendency to overestimate our own importance and the importance [of] our goals. Third, students need a greater awareness of the interdependence of business and the rest of civil society. Unfortunately, students cannot get this kind of education from a curriculum that focuses only on the business "fundamentals." [Well, here we're at another impasse. The writer is calling for business schools to become peace studies centers. If the writer objects to the essential immorality of MBA-ideology -- what Myles Brand rightly identifies as capitalism pure and simple -- he should teach in a divinity school.]

So it is not enough for business students to hear yet again that certain behaviors are generally prohibited by morality. They must also come to see that these prohibitions apply to them even when morality conflicts with self-interest, the bottom line, and the interests of investors.

When business schools start taking ethics seriously, maybe people will stop laughing.

Okay, here's a suggestion for how business schools can take ethics seriously. First, they can stop offering not very good courses in ethics. These courses are an insult to their students' intelligence. Next, they should fire all their business ethics professors. They should take the money they've now freed up and use it to institute a three-times-a-year debate series to which students are invited. They do not have to attend. These debates would be between luminaries in the world of business and business regulation (Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Carly Fiorina, Elliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo, Richard Grasso, plus a few high-profile douchebags on prison furlough), and their topic would be somewhat open, but would probably naturally evolve, given the participants, into a useful and honest give and take on the complexities of corporate behavior.

Alan Greenspan, in a recent speech at a business school, acknowledged the high levels of corporate dishonesty in America and pleaded with the graduates:

A generation from now, as you watch your children graduate, you will want to be able to say that whatever success you achieved was the result of honest and productive work, and that you dealt with people the way you would want them to deal with you. … I do not deny that many appear to have succeeded in a material way by cutting corners and manipulating associates, both in their professional and in their personal lives. But material success is possible in this world, and far more satisfying, when it comes without exploiting others. The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.

Very pretty, but rhetorically hopeless. As if the eager twenty-somethings in his audience are thinking in generational terms... As if they don't know that the modest term "material success" now means making forty million dollars a year as a fund manager... This is just an old guy operating outside the corporate realm gassing on in the way of many business ethics professors. Franchement, UD doesn't think universities can do much about this at all. But if they want to try something that might have some teeny utility, they might try her idea.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bigtime University Athletics
and their Role-Model Coaches

'Here’s the thing about coaches — they seldom, if ever, tell the truth.

They’re not honest in talking about their players. Often, they’re not honest in talking with their players. They’re not honest in talking about their team — or, oftentimes, in talking to their team. They’re not honest about injuries. They’re not honest about contract negotiations, especially their own. And they’re never, ever honest with the media, because those pesky guys with pens have an uncanny knack for telling the truth, which coaches, players, and, in many cases, fans, don’t really want to hear.

... [The University of Florida's Billy Donovan] has been a red-hot coaching commodity since leading the Gators to a second-straight NCAA championship.

Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky tried to lure him away, but couldn’t. Donovan also was approached by the Memphis Grizzlies, who had the worst record in the NBA last year. That deal never came to fruition, either. But now the Magic has come along, with a deal Donovan obviously felt he couldn’t refuse.

At least he doesn’t come across looking as bad as Nick Saban, who, after months of protesting vociferously that he had no interest in leaving the Miami Dolphins to return to college coaching at the University of Alabama, suddenly quit the Dolphins to take over the Crimson Tide.

...And Billy D., on Wednesday, knew “nothing” about any possible deal with the Magic, with whom he signed a 5-year contract Thursday worth $5.5 million a season.

Never believe what a coach says about anything. Because they seldom, if ever, are telling the truth.'

These guys often get faculty appointments. I mean, like, they're professors in a way. So faculty as well as students derive an ethical dividend from association with them.

---jim donaldson, providence journal---
Countdown to Bloomsday

Longtime readers know I do this every year -- as June 16 approaches, I follow various James Joyce stories and generally attempt to whomp you up to fly to Dublin, or at least do something Joycean in your hometown, in celebration of Bloomsday.

There was a distinct moment, while I was teaching Ulysses last semester, when my enthusiastic class seemed to get it -- seemed to sense the biggest truth about that novel, its effort to draw every bit of us, to show us absolutely everything that we are, physically, mentally, spiritually, the worst and the best, so that we can know, and accept, what we are.

I found this exciting, the dawning compassion on the faces of some of my students as they got past their disgust with some of what is shown of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, and moved ahead into something more humane, more amused, more self-aware.

A writer for the Toledo Blade remembers last year's Bloomsday in Dublin.

For more than 50 years, people have gathered here for festive readings and breakfasts, lectures, and performances. And in case you thought the fun was only for former English majors, don’t fret: there’s plenty of alcohol and general merriment for all.

Former English majors don't drink? ... True, this one doesn't, much. There's my summer ritual of many pina coladas (this is rather pathetic, I guess), and I have wine with dinner occasionally... But I don't think I'm typical of former English majors. They probably drink more than most people. Emulating their favorite writers... James Joyce, who, if I'm remembering the Richard Ellmann biography correctly, could really put it away, and was occasionally found lying in gutters. Then there's Stephen Dedalus, who spends all of Ulysses getting blasted, and is well on his way toward becoming an alcoholic.

The Blade writer says that "attending Bloomsday in Dublin is considered a must in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz." I didn't know that.

Having attended Bloomsday in Dublin, I know how wild and wonderful it is; but keep in mind that the lines to all the events are long. You need to be determined.

The Blade writer watched last year in Dublin as a

group of actors played out scenes from Ulysses. While reading the book had been torture back in college, hearing the novel’s difficult language read out loud and seeing the action played out, it suddenly made sense. Somehow, it wasn’t hard anymore.

What’s more, it was actually funny. Everyone was laughing. At Ulysses. Amazing.