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Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED

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)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tim Burke Weighs in
on Endowment-Obsessives.

I haven't read it yet (just in from the beach; making lunch), but I want to link to it now.


Hokay, having eaten the French bread with melted cheese plus a side dish of strawberries and another one of cherry tomatoes that Mr. UD prepared, I've now read Tim Burke on endowments. He argues that the question isn't one of size at all, but rather the use made of all that money. But while use is obviously paramount, I believe size is a problem too.

There is something deeply unseemly - to the point of destructive - about a university accumulating tens of billions of dollars. A number of observers quoted in the 2001 New York Times article I reproduce a few posts down say this. They say variants of what Christopher Lasch once wrote:

"Luxury is morally repugnant, and its incompatibility with democratic ideals, moreover, has been consistently recognized in the traditions that shape our political culture. The difficulty of limiting the influence of wealth suggests that wealth itself needs to be limited. When money talks, everybody else is condemned to listen. For that reason, a democratic society cannot allow unlimited accumulation. Social and civic equality presuppose at least a rough approximation of economic equality."

It's particularly disgusting for universities, centers of free thought about the values, insights, and behaviors that matter most to a culture, to represent grasping money-making machines, as Harvard does to more and more people. The striking thing about Harvard University, the talked-about thing, the thing much more notable than its professors and its libraries (which, as Tim points out, aren't as impressive as you might think given all that cash), is a degree of wealth unmatched by many nations of the world. What sort of power fantasy is Harvard playing here? Why has it, in gaining wealth obscenely disproportionate to any other institution of higher learning in the world, and obscenely disproportionate to anything that Harvard University might need to maintain and improve itself, removed itself from the fellowship of universities?

As to what Harvard should do now that it's stuffed all that money up its ass -- Let me respond to Tim's criticism of one of my ideas for Harvard's self-dismantling:

One of Soltan’s suggestions for Harvard has been to look at the example of Florida Southern College, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I guess the suggestion here is to build architectural or artistic marvels for the pleasure of future generations, to make something of lasting beauty. That’s appealing in a way, but it also has a bit of pharonic vanity about it. It doesn’t seem to me to self-evidently outweigh doing more research, hiring more faculty, beefing up administrative capacity, improving most facilities, investing in better infrastructure.

What Tim misses here is that Florida Southern is also a college, like Harvard College. The money for the rebuilding of the Wright stuff (bad pun) is a symbolic as well as practical gesture. It's not only in a general sense about "the pleasure of future generations." Much more importantly, it is a gesture of confidence and generosity in regard to fellow institutions in need, from an institution so grotesquely over-endowed that it should feel morally compelled to use that endowment for the betterment of universities and colleges generally.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just Announced:

This year's Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest winners. Here are the ones that made me laugh (your results may vary).

Danny, the little Grizzly cub, frolicked in the tall grass on this sunny Spring morning, his mother keeping a watchful eye as she chewed on a piece of a hiker they had encountered the day before.
[Children's Literature]

She'd been strangled with a rosary -- not a run-of-the-mill rosary like you might get at a Catholic bookstore where Hail Marys are two for a quarter and indulgences are included on the back flap of the May issue of "Nuns and Roses" magazine, but a fancy heirloom rosary with pearls, rubies, and a solid gold cross, a rosary with attitude, the kind of rosary that said, "Get your Jehovah's Witness butt off my front porch."
[Detective Fiction]

Marilyn's main feature was her mountainous breasts, with an associated sharp ravine of cleavage--the breasts not awesome like Everest, but like one of the Highland peaks near Balquhidder, where the notorious outlaw Rob Roy spent his last days.
[Purple Prose]

The moon rose in the east, a thin, yellow sliver like a fingernail ripped off with a jagged edge that goes to the quick and hurts like the dickens, making Selena wince as she looked on from Dirk's strong embrace and, recalling the last time she clutched at something so hard she broke a nail, brooded as she remembered that tomorrow was her annual pap smear.
[Purple Prose]

Karl awoke with a start, his heart pounding away like a drum, not a well mannered tympani such as one might hear in a Boston Pops rendition of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" but rather more like a snare drum in the hands of Terry Bozzio during the time when he was performing with Frank Zappa.
[Purple Prose]

He held her desperately in his arms and stroked her silken hair, and as he drew her full red lips to his, he ravenously smothered her with lots of smooches.

Ruthanne felt as though she was frozen in time, staring into Steve's eyes, deep turquoise pools of Tidy-Bowl blue, reflecting back the deep passionate love that Ruthanne felt in her heart because Steve certainly didn't feel anything, being in a coma as he was, so what Ruthanne had reflected back to herself was what she herself felt, bouncing off Steve's eyes, because there was absolutely zip going on behind those eyes.

"So that was your Earth emotion 'love'," gasped Zyxwlyxgwr Noopar, third in line to the holo-throne of S-6, as he hosed down his trunk and removed the shallots.
[Science Fiction]

Slim pulled the branding iron away from the yearling's seared flank and looked up to see Tuffy Edwards, the boss's daughter, trotting towards him on her sorrel mare, Brandi, wearing absolutely nothing but tight blue jeans and a green tank top---her gi-normous, heaving, unrestrained hooters resembling nothing so much as a pair of fat Charolais heifers trying to beat each other through a loading chute.


The poetry teacher's bullet-riddled body lay sprawled on the verandah floor like a patient etherized upon a table.
UD Quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Ed ...

...this morning. She's part of a group of responses to an American Scholar essay about the erotic lives of professor guys. The UD quote:

'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. ... 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 [Philip] Rieff suggests, the humanities professor is not supplementing his goodie bag with a love of teaching, he's on his way down.'

But that's only part of what I said. Remember how clever my full statement was? No?

The Chronicle's list includes a curious comment from Ethan Leib, of PrawfsBlawg and the University of California Hastings College of Law:

'Although legal academics have it much better than college professors in so many ways ... there is little love on campus. That's, I think, as it should be among adults — but those of us with Ph.D.'s who decide to teach in vocational schools are often giving up what Deresiewicz calls "erotic intensity." In law school, instrumental rationality finds a way to smother eros in the classroom.'

Giving up? They're not giving up. People who choose to spend their best years inside law schools are embracing asexuality.
Beer and Late Nights and Hopeless Love

Someone else has been listening to people sing Henry Purcell.

And she writes for the Economist:

'Everything in nature springs up, flourishes, dies, springs up again: we do the same. Bodies form and decay all the time. What the spirit does, being outside nature, has the potential to be much more interesting. But since we have forgotten that life, if we ever knew it, we are left with physical dissolution, and we don’t like it much.

Our ancestors were much better at facing this, and, in their sheer melancholy, celebrating it. Consider the lovely “Funeral Sentences” of Henry Purcell, set to the words of Isaiah:

Man that is born of a woman
Hath but a short time to live,
And is full of misery.
He cometh up, and is cut down like a flow’r;
He fleeth as it were a shadow,
And ne’er continueth in one stay.

On “ne’er continueth” Purcell makes the tenors swoop in with all the plangency that beer and late nights and hopeless love can give them. It sums up how much we want to cling to life―and how death, all the same, stalks and claws at us on every side.'

Teatime by the Kokokan's rushing river. Got a deeper understanding of cultivation on our paddy trek today, particularly when I slipped and fell into sopping rice mud. Ania, who had felt harassed and unhappy during the hot afternoon, burst into laughter.

She'd been charmed by a bubble plant our guide showed us on the way to the paddies -- when you blow on it, its stem makes bubbles. He took us into a Balinese kitchen, equipped with a coconut milk churner, various crushing utensils, and an open stove.

The paddies appeared as a glorious opening out of a broad emerald valley. They glistened under the heavy sun. The channels held eels, roaches, ducks, and a pig carcass.

Every day dawns mild and bright. The climate calms. At Three Monkeys restaurant, they prepare an elaborate chai -- it takes ages to make, and comes with shaved brown sugar and honey so you can sweeten it even more.

I love the Kokokan Hotel. But when I return to Bali, it's Waka di Ume all the way.

The sweetness of Bali lies in a mix of warmth, softness, tranquility, landscape and skyscape that adds up to spiritual bliss. The soul is lighter here. It's distracted from its own weight by the profuse life of the place, the sheer number of things to notice. Bali takes hold of you, compels your attention, and produces a kind of selflessness. The island's fluid rhythms transcend you.

On the way to an elephant ride a couple of days ago (the elephants played harmonica) we encountered a cremation procession - men in black robes, women in blue with white sashes, a body held aloft on a pyre. After lengthy fussing (lotions, holy water), attendants rolled two black gas cylinders with long beige hoses under the pyre and the thing instantly flared. A small explosion broke around the corpse's head. Firecracker.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

BEMERDED... a nice new word that UD intends to work into some upcoming posts.

Via Andrew Sullivan.
UD's Proud to Say...

...that she's one of a few blogs to show up on Scott McLemee's 'Possibly the Smartest Blogroll in the History of Blogrolls, to Date.' From his blog, Quick Study.

Return with UD to
Fair Harvard Days of Yore...

...back when, in 2001, its endowment was a mere $19 billion (today it's almost $30 billion). A Goldman Sachs analyst wrote about it then in the New York Times. Here's what she said, with UD's commentary thrown in:

Next Sunday, Lawrence Summers becomes the 27th president of Harvard. But the distance from the Treasury Department to this particular ivory tower is not as great as it once might have been. Summers will have less money to play with than he did in his last job, as treasury secretary, but the endowment of the institution he inherits has climbed in recent months to as much as $19 billion -- a sum greater than the physical assets of McDonald's, the G.D.P. of Ecuador, the net worth of all but 5 of the Forbes 400 or, according to The Boston Globe, the endowment of every nonprofit institution in the world after the Roman Catholic Church. As the head of Harvard, there will be no escaping the burdens of high finance.

Or low. Summers's appointment in April was barely a month old before Massachusetts Hall, which houses his new office, was taken over by dozens of students protesting Harvard's failure to provide a ''living wage'' of $10.25 to all its employees. Over the next 26 days, tents popped up in Harvard Yard, as students, professors and workers slept outside in sympathy. Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, dropped by to show support. Senator Edward Kennedy tried to enter the building to meet with the students, but the police wouldn't allow it. Newspapers across the country ran editorials taking Harvard to task for refusing to spend even the smallest fraction of its endowment to improve the lives of its workers. [Recall that Summers did find tens of millions of dollars to save the ass of one particular Harvard worker -- his friend Andrei Shleifer, an economics professor whose corrupt dealings in Russia drew ginormous federal penalties to Harvard.] Drawings of Summers as Marie Antoinette began to go up around Harvard Yard.

If the issues of the protest are small for such a rich and enormous institution -- about 400 employees and several hundred contract workers are affected by the university's position, which it has pledged to reconsider -- they call attention to a growing chorus of critics [Note, for instance, Harvard's way shitty alumni giving rate.] who believe that Harvard is at least squandering an opportunity to rethink its culture, or even its mission, in light of that one stunning number: $19 billion. (The next largest endowment, Yale's, is $10 billion.) [If $19 billion is stunning, I guess 30 is what Christopher Hitchens would call funny like a heart attack.]

''It's absurd,'' says Reich, who has taught at Harvard. ''There's no reason to raise a giant endowment merely for the sake of having a giant endowment.'' [This is the anal implosivity problem about which UD has recently written.] Jeffrey Sachs, a Harvard economics professor, is a bit more philosophical: ''We all have the sense that this is a remarkable amount of money. The question is, To what purpose will it be put?''

Harvard surely wouldn't lack for recommendations if it wanted them. Frank Newman, the director of the higher education policy program at the Pew Charitable Trusts and the former president of the University of Rhode Island, notes that universities receive favorable tax treatment because society expects them to be ''above and beyond corporate citizenship, to take the steps that help make society better.'' He suggests that Harvard spend more money to mentor minority students or to study such national issues as the health-care system. Sachs says that Harvard should ''increase the knowledge capacity'' in the developing world; Reich talks about Harvard ''replicating itself'' both globally and nationally. Todd Plants, who graduated from the college two weeks ago and was the chairman of the Student Affairs Committee last year, argues for more financial aid. (And you can see his point: tuition, room and board for the last four years cost $126,486, which more than a third of this year's 1,602 graduates paid in full.) [UD has some ideas along these lines too. See her Inside Higher Ed post, Help Harvard Spend its Endowment.]

But Harvard has been reluctant to think creatively about its increased wealth. Last fall, for example, at a meeting of the Harvard Management Company board, which oversees the investment of the university's endowment, one member posed an intriguing question: Do we want to be fully endowed? At the time, Harvard's endowment was paying out enough income to cover 27 percent of the university's $2 billion operating budget. Would it be worthwhile to try to cover the whole thing? To make the school free to all 18,000 students? To liberate its 2,000 professors from grant writing to concentrate on teaching and research? The question was a nonstarter, says Elizabeth Huidekoper, Harvard's vice president for finance. The conversation ''didn't quite go that far.''

In January, Princeton (endowment: $8.4 billion) promised to abolish student loans. In April, Cornell (endowment: $3.4 billion) said it would open a medical school campus in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. But the three largest nonannual expenditures of the outgoing president Neil Rudenstine's tenure capture Harvard's conservative approach when it comes to innovative spending: the purchase of 29 developed acres up the Charles River in Watertown for $168 million; the purchase of 48 developed acres across the river in Allston for $150 million; and the costs of formally merging with nearby Radcliffe for another $150 million. Ask about satellite campuses or online education, and you'll hear that such steps are too expensive. Ask about covering students' tuition, and you'll learn that paying for your schooling is a virtue. (''There's something good about hunger,'' one dean says. ''It is important for our students to be co-investors in their own education.'') Ask whether the recent $120 million operating surplus is a sign that Harvard could think of some new ways to spend its money, and you'll be told that that amount, left over after subtracting operating expenses from the sum total of endowment payouts, tuition, research grants and other income, is not all that significant. (''It's in the noise,'' Rudenstine says.) Rudenstine dismisses calls for a change in Harvard's spending strategies as the usual campus grumbling or the agitation of uninformed outsiders.

It is true that the situation looks more complicated from the inside. Perhaps because its purpose is to preserve generational equity in perpetuity, the Harvard endowment is often talked about as if it were a single, monolithic entity. In fact, it comprises 9,600 funds donated over the last three centuries. (Harvard's buildings, which the university carries at a depreciated value of $1.7 billion on its balance sheet, as well as its vast art collections and landholdings, are not included.) At most universities, the president controls the endowment. At Harvard, the endowment funds belong to whichever of the 10 schools they were donated. The result, a system known internally as ''Every tub on its own bottom,'' has produced wide disparities in wealth. The richest by far is the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the university's undergraduate and graduate core; its endowment is $8 billion, greater than that of every other university but Yale, Texas, Stanford and Princeton. Next in size are Harvard's medical ($2.1 billion) and business ($1.3 billion) schools. Two of the poorest are education ($290 million) and design ($250 million).

Despite its decentralized budget pool, Harvard is an incredible fund-raising machine. When the university's governing body, the Harvard Corporation, hired Rudenstine in 1991, it wanted a conciliator who could bring together the independent deans to collaborate on the first university-wide campaign since the 1940's. An unexpected bonus, says Ronald Daniel, Harvard's treasurer, was that the quiet, self-effacing former Princeton provost became a magnet for big donors. Under Rudenstine's watch, Harvard conducted a six-year, $2.1 billion fund-raising campaign -- and exceeded its goal by $500 million. More than 68 percent of this $2.6 billion came from gifts of $1 million or more; there were 498 of these. And while only two gifts were $50 million or more, 90 donors gave gifts of $5 million or more. That Harvard is already so rich, and so much richer than every other school, seems only to enhance rather than to hinder its ability to attract large gifts. ''I like to back a good organization,'' says Thomas H. Lee, the centimillionaire leveraged-buyout fund manager, explaining why he gave such a wealthy school $22 million. ''Excellence is expensive.''

Harvard cultivates this crowd through an invitation-only organization called the Committee on University Resources, which was founded at the end of the 1960's to encourage those who have been generous to Harvard to give even more. A few years ago, for example, a university official told a COUR member, Albert J. Weatherhead 3rd, the owner of Weatherhead Industries in Cleveland, ''You're Harvard's third largest living donor, and you won't rest until you are No. 1.'' Weatherhead, who has given a total of nearly $50 million to the school, says, ''I just love that quote.'' When Rudenstine took office, there were 200 COUR members; today there are 400.

Typically, COUR's annual spring gathering, which takes place over two days in Cambridge, has a theme. During the last campaign, these included globalization and ethics. This year's event, however, was ''really unusual,'' says William Boardman, Harvard's associate vice president for capital giving. ''We didn't have a lot of fund-raising to talk about.'' Rather than something academic, he chose a theme more central to the lives of committee members, and perhaps the school as well: wealth management.

From his 16th-floor perch inside the Boston Federal Reserve office tower, Jack Meyer, Harvard Management Company's president and C.E.O., oversees a staff of 185 and the investment of the university's billions. Were it not for the sign on the door, you would have no idea that H.M.C. is a university-owned nonprofit rather than an independent, highly sophisticated money-management firm. There is the water view, the beautiful wood paneling and the very for-profit salaries. Last year, H.M.C.'s top five performing portfolio managers earned bonuses totaling more than $50 million. The single biggest payout went to the foreign-equity manager. He got $17 million, more than 48 times as much as Rudenstine's compensation of $352,650.

Once, these bonuses made Meyer, a friendly man who speaks with the fast clip common among those who wield power on Wall Street, a scourge in the Harvard community. ''In the early 90's, I received a lot of correspondence that was somewhat less than friendly,'' he says. Today, after the long bull market, even Jeremy Knowles, the arts and sciences dean, has made peace with Harvard's rewarding those who produce wealth much more generously than those who produce knowledge: ''I ask myself, How much would they have made at Goldman Sachs?'' (Knowles's salary, like that of every dean but that of the medical school, is less than $300,000. The average salary of a full professor at Harvard is $135,200.) [UD readers know that this era of good feelings did not last. These guys have all left because Harvard agreed to cut back on their salaries. Here's a typical letter from a Harvard person about the salaries.... In fact, there's an elegiac feel to this whole article -- everybody's gone -- Summers, Rudenstine, the fund managers... Everyone's gone. The only thing that's stayed in place is the hemorrhoidal hoard.]

Harvard began its metamorphosis into a hedge fund in the mid-70's, when, after a pair of Ford Foundation monographs encouraged universities to invest more aggressively, it set up its own shop. Since Meyer took over in 1990, H.M.C. has employed an aggressive but diversified arbitrage strategy to make a fortune for the university's endowment -- $4.3 billion last year alone, a sum roughly equal to Columbia University's entire endowment. H.M.C. has also spread its investment tentacles into 68 private equity and venture-capital firms and seeds new investment funds too. The first -- there are now four, all run by former employees -- was seeded in 1998, when H.M.C.'s top-performing hedge-fund manager, Jonathon Jacobson, quit to start his own firm shortly after receiving a $10 million bonus. The deal: Meyer gave Jacobson $500 million to manage in exchange for reduced fees. Another dividend: as a free agent at Highfields Capital Management, Jacobson can invest Harvard's money in controversial holdings -- he has invested in casino stocks, for example -- while reducing the risk of a major P.R. blow-up. (H.M.C.'s only in-house prohibition is tobacco investments.) Last year, according to the university's tax returns, H.M.C. paid Highfields $29 million for investment-management services.

Another factor helping the growth of the endowment has been Harvard's conservative payout policy. While the endowment's returns have surpassed the internal target of 6 to 6.5 percent above inflation for the last nine years, the corporation has paid out only 4.2 percent of its endowment on average to the deans for spending, less than the typical university target of 4.5 to 5 percent. The strategy has netted the university additional billions.

'Harvard's money became a puzzle to me,'' says the psychologist Carol Gilligan, who will resign from her post as a professor at the School of Education next spring and teach full time at New York University. ''Where are the resources of the university going?'' she asks. Over at the far wealthier law school (endowment: $930 million), Prof. Alan Dershowitz expresses a similar befuddlement over why he has had such a difficult time getting funds for the public-interest-law program. ''Harvard's goal is to die with the most amount of money,'' he says. ''It should not be the goal.''

Rudenstine counters with a lament: ''Everyone thinks of the $19.1 billion as one pot of money. It's thousands of pots of money that are restricted accounts.''

[Okay, time to get clear on the issue of restricted funds. Read on.]

In fact, 87 percent of the Harvard endowment is ''restricted'' to either a particular school or specific purposes at that school. Still, Harvard's claim that its hands are tied when it comes to spending remains open to question. First, Harvard, rather than wealthy donors, at times creates those restrictions. Take the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The Weatherheads had already given Harvard four professorships and wanted to have a global impact; they would have considered an unrestricted gift (so long as it was ''mind engaging''). Second, there has been as much as $920 million sitting unrestricted in the university's $3 billion general operating account. Much of that sum was generated in an unusual fashion -- by taking funds the deans set aside for near-term use, investing that money into the endowment and paying the deans a money-market rate of return while keeping the difference for the central administration. ''If you want to say it was risky, I can certainly agree with you,'' Rudenstine says, but ''in the end, proof happens in the pudding.''

But what is the point? Why run the machinery this way? Lani Guinier, a professor at Harvard Law, thinks she understands Harvard's values. ''Money has become the exclusive denominator,'' she says. ''It defines everything: prestige, excellence, competence, commitment to the public good.'' Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, sets Harvard in a broader social context. ''We've reduced our definition of worth into fame and wealth, and it carries over into the way institutions think about themselves,'' he says. ''An overwhelmingly huge part of what Harvard is about is managing its money. The absurd theory is, Harvard is safe if there's an atomic bomb that destroys all of America -- Harvard will continue. Learning and studying are very simple things, and the values they require are the love of learning and intellectual curiosity. Are they fostered by wealth? I don't think so. Smugness is fostered by wealth.''

Even those from institutions that have profited in the same ways Harvard has, if less spectacularly, question Harvard's choices. James Freedman, the president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, tells me that as a former president of Dartmouth College (endowment: $2.5 billion), he ''can't throw stones at others.'' But within a matter of minutes, he is arguing for a radical revision of Harvard's endowment policies: ''You really wonder why Harvard, out of its $19 billion, couldn't take $1 billion and say, 'This is the capital that will fund our scholarships.''' John Hennessey, the president of Stanford University (endowment: $8.7 billion), which recently received the largest gift ever made to higher education -- a $400 million matching grant from the Hewlett Foundation -- says it's time for Harvard to re-examine its financial priorities. The issue of whether the endowment is big enough or if its size warrants fundamental changes to the school's mission is one that the next president of Harvard ''will have to face,'' he says. [Apparently not.]

When I relay some of these comments and suggestions to Rudenstine, he characterizes his first three years at Harvard as a ''nightmare'' because of the early-90's recession and deficits at the school. ''So my first question when anybody says something about what any university should be doing is, Tell me how much you know about running a university.'' When I reply that some of these critics do (or have) run colleges and universities, he asks: ''But do they know anything about Harvard? Harvard is different.'' [Harvard can't spend its endowment until it's a hundred billion.]

Harvard is indeed different. as Howard Gardner, a professor at the Graduate School of Education, notes: ''Harvard is older than the United States, and I think there's a reason for that. It's been very well managed.'' That management denies Harvard's president the authority to spend the university's money as he sees fit. But Summers will have power all the same. There is, for starters, the unrestricted money in the general operating account; that $920 million alone is more than the entire endowment of Boston University ($913 million) or Georgetown ($745 million). As the fund-raiser in chief, too, Harvard's president can steer donors toward particular projects.

While there's no indication that Summers plans to shift Harvard's strategy, there are those who believe he has precisely the kind of credentials to effect change if he wants to. In terms of brilliance and force of personality, Summers -- who at 28 was the youngest professor to receive tenure at Harvard in its modern history -- is as well equipped as anyone. And it stands to reason that the Harvard officials who chose him had more in mind than hiring a financial campaign guru. ''If you were focused on money and fund-raising, that was probably not where Larry's competitive advantage lay,'' says his mentor and predecessor at Treasury, Robert Rubin. ''He's much more caught up in the question of Harvard's mission.'' [This all sounds pretty amusing in retrospect.]

Not that it would be easy. Should Summers seek to generate greater societal and intellectual returns on his school's money, he would need to persuade the corporation, which sets the endowment payouts, to be more generous. He would probably run into resistance. A remark from Harvard's treasurer, Ronald Daniel, suggests why: ''Harvard is still a long way from having 'more than what it needs,''' he says. [Okay. Make it two hundred billion.] Even where there is no doubt about the school's financial security, ingrained caution toward spending is a brake. (Harvard was, of course, founded by Puritans.) When faculty members think about the endowment, they tend to share Harvard's conservative spending values. ''What the $19 billion ought to allow us to do is be very thoughtful about how we go about making decisions,'' Gardner says. But mostly it is not a concern. As Henry Louis Gates Jr., who runs Harvard's Afro-American studies department, describes the endowment: ''It's like the air we breathe. We take it for granted. It's around you all the time, so you don't think about it.'' [All I need is the air that I breathe and four hundred billion... All I need is the air that I breathe...]

And were Summers to act, he would first have to contend with the great intramural disparities. The deans of the rich schools are likely to favor the capitalist status quo -- Every tub on its own bottom does make a larger number of people both responsible and accountable,'' says Knowles, the arts and sciences dean -- while it's hard to imagine the poorer deans entirely ignoring the untapped coffers around them. At the School of Public Health, which lacks a core of wealthy alumni supporters, Barry Bloom, its dean, describes his tub's financial set-up as ''a pretty hazardous situation,'' because 59 percent of his professors' salaries are paid for with grant-sponsored funds. He says it ''would be reasonable'' if Harvard paid at least half.

Many are skeptical that the money race is over. As Harvey Cox, a Harvard Divinity School professor who has been teaching there since 1965, says: ''The idea that the big capital fund-raising drive came to an end when Neil Rudenstine announced whatever colossal amount of money it was, is simply not true. The next day, we were, of course, raising money again.'' Sachs, the economics professor, acknowledges feeling like a "relentless fund-raising machine," but he expects change soon: "Harvard now has the happy circumstance of being able to move in a new direction." [Any minute now, Sachs... Sachs? Oh. He left.] Arthur Levine, the president of Teachers College at Columbia University, likens Summers to Charles Eliot, Harvard's president from 1869 to 1909, who transformed the school into a modern national institution: "The task before him is to take a Harvard that has been the leader in industrial America and make it into the foremost university in an information age, and he has the resources to do it."

So far, this generation's Eliot has spent much of his time on airplanes, traveling around to meet Harvard's biggest donors, which is, depending on how you look at it, either an inauspicious harbinger for his presidency or simply a matter of Realpolitik. Or maybe nobody's business but the school's and that of its citizens and donors. When we spoke this spring, Summers said it was "very premature to be making vision statements." Fair enough. Still, it's hard to lie low when you have $19 billion [Turns out to be even harder when it's $30 billion.], especially when it derives in part from favorable tax policies. For now, at least, he describes fund-raising as just a means to an intellectual end. "If the time were ever to come when we were consuming large amounts of resources and not making a commensurate contribution to teaching and knowledge," he says, "that would be a very serious problem, indeed."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Real Dirty

"I decided to take the data that's made available to us by the NCAA and turn it into an objective measure of the dirtiest programs in NCAA football. This week we'll be counting down the 10 dirtiest programs in the modern era of NCAA infractions, with #10 and #9 on Monday, and culminating in the crowning of the top two dirtiest programs on Friday," writes Pete Holiday at AOL Sports. The list already features a number of UD stalwarts, including Auburn, Miami, and Oklahoma State.
An Interview with the Genius Behind...

...the Fulmer Cup. Excerpts:

'The current leader? Illinois, based solely on two Illini players who ran a burglary ring in Champaign until they were caught just after the conclusion of the regular season. They got hit with a sledgehammer, points-wise: 24 total for all the charges, a nigh-insurmountable lead. ... [The Florida Gators have] exceeded our lowest expectations, sadly [the Fulmer's creator is a Gator fan], with Ronnie Wilson's discharging an AK-47 in downtown Gainesville being the nadir of the current season's swing through the Cup.... [My personal favorite Fulmer guy is] Ben Siegert, defensive tackle for the Oregon State Beavers, [who] got drunk, stole a sheep being used in a study on homosexual behavior in animals, and was caught driving around Corvallis with it by police. He blew a .14, claimed it was part of a prank, and said 'I'm from the city, I don't know anything about sheep.' ... The record for a single score is San Jose State's Ellis T. Jones, who earned 34 points single-handedly by placing ads for bargain goods on Craigslist, lying in wait for his victims at an apartment complex, and then Tasering them before taking their money and, in one case, stuffing the victim into a trunk. A special award was created for just this instance, the "Ellis T. Jones" award, given to the single biggest malefactor of the season. ...'

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Help for Endowment Retentives

Lynn Munson, in today's Inside Higher Ed, takes the crucial initial step of acknowledging the problem. She calls it endowment hoarding, but because it is as much a psychological as an institutional problem, UD prefers endowment retentivity, in line with Freud's distinction between anal-expulsive and anal-retentive personalities.

Many of America's universities are, like psychopathic infants, holding it in. They must be eased toward expulsion.

Munson lays out the reasons:

'...Legislators setting policy with regard to higher education should realize that colleges and universities are our nation’s richest — and possibly most miserly — “nonprofits.”

Colleges and universities are sitting on a fortune in tax-free funds, and sharing almost none of it. Higher education endowment assets alone total over $340 billion. Sixty-two institutions boast endowments over $1 billion. Harvard and Yale top the list with endowments so massive, $28 billion and $18 billion respectively, that they exceed the general operating funds for the states in which they reside. It’s not just elite private institutions that do this; four public universities have endowments that rank among the nation’s top 10. The University of Texas’ $13 billion endowment is the fourth largest nationwide, vastly overshadowing most of the Ivy League.

These endowments tower over their peers throughout the nonprofit world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is America’s wealthiest museum. But the Met’s $2 billion endowment is bested by no less than 26 academic institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Washington University in St. Louis, and Emory. Indeed, the total worth of the top 25 college and university endowments is $11 billion greater than the combined assets of their equivalently ranked private foundations — including Gates, Ford and Rockefeller.

Higher education endowments also are growing much faster than private foundations. The value of college and university endowments skyrocketed 17.7 percent last year, while private foundation assets increased 7.8 percent. Just 3.3 percent of the increase in academic endowments is attributable to new gifts. Most of the gain is a result of stingy, outdated endowment payout policies that retain and perpetually re-invest massive sums. This widespread practice results in a hoarding of tax-free funds.

A recent survey of 765 colleges and universities found they are spending 4.2 percent of their endowments’ value each year. Meanwhile, private foundations — which are legally required to spend at least 5 percent of their value annually — average 7 percent spending.

Higher education endowments differ from private foundations in one particularly important respect. Private foundations exist to give their money to others, while college and university endowments support just one charity — their school. But isn’t being your own sole beneficiary reason to spend more, not less? Particularly when a substantial area of spending — financial aid grants to current students — targets precisely the people you expect will be your future donors?

Paradoxically, it is precisely the meager financial aid outlays of endowment-rich colleges and universities that make the true miserliness of low payout practices most apparent. Stanford University spends $76 million on undergraduate financial aid, a sum that sounds generous but amounts to a mere 0.5 percent of the value of its endowment. The university spends just 4 percent of its $14 billion endowment toward operating expenses. If the 5 percent payout rule required Stanford to spend another 1 percent of its endowment, and that money was directed toward financial aid, students would enjoy $211 million in additional support. That is precisely the cost of letting all 6,600 Stanford undergraduates attend tuition-free.

The University of Texas’ nine campuses enroll 147,576 undergraduates who each pay on average $5,903 in tuition. All of U.T.’s undergraduates could attend school tuition-free if the system spent half the amount the university’s endowment grew just last year.

Of course just because a college can afford to offer education tuition-free doesn’t mean it should. Giving a free ride to students who can afford to pay obviously would cut into the bottom line in other ways. Also, education is a real service for which people should pay. And a higher quality education should command a steeper price.

But college and university endowment spending practices should reflect the public responsibility that adjoins tax-free status. When people donate to a school they get a tax break because their donation is supposed to serve the public. When those untaxed funds sit unused, piling up for decades, taxpayers are making a sacrifice and getting nothing in return.

College and university endowments currently are exempt from the 5 percent annual payout requirement. Institutions of higher education aren’t even required to publicly report endowment payout rates or the purposes for which funds are spent. And the only organization that collects that information, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, does not make it public, except on an aggregate basis. Congress should require payout rates and specific expenditures for individual institutions to be made public each year. And if this “sunshine” fails to drive up endowment spending, a minimum payout requirement should be established.

And 5 percent should be considered just a starting point. College and university endowments exist to support current operations. But if that only requires a mere 4 percent draw, clearly there is ample room to use additional endowment funds for purposes that serve the public directly. For example, why not take some of the burden off students, families and taxpayers by providing more financial aid to needy students? After all, why should taxpayers be subsidizing an ever-burgeoning number of student loans while schools can afford to provide more scholarships?

For too long the government response to skyrocketing tuition has been to increase the size and number of student loans. Now the plan is to make loan repayment easier and increase grant aid again. But making it possible for students and parents to go more deeply into debt only encourages endowment hoarding and runaway tuition. It is time for legislators to come up with a smarter strategy for addressing college affordability — one that will pressure colleges and universities to better serve students, families, and taxpayers. And getting schools to stop hoarding billions in tax-free funds would be a good first step.

The high cost of education has consequences. When asked to name an expense that is beyond their reach, people cite “paying for college” more than buying a home, retirement, or anything else. The intimidating effect of high tuition is the largest “access” problem in American higher education. If colleges and universities truly want to open their doors to all, they will begin by sharing their riches.'

Things are 'piling up.' They are 'sitting on it.' They are 'hoarding' it. They must be 'pressured' to 'open their doors.'

Must UD make this explicit? Something primal, atavistic, visceral, and, to me, intellectually exciting, is unfolding at many American universities. Here is an opportunity not only to understand Freud's retentive/expulsive nexus, but to intervene in the crippling forms of blockage an imbalance can create.

We can help if we want to. If we have the will. We must sit alongside these universities and gently coax them as they learn to let go.
"What on earth would lead a
high-profile college official
to break into a house,
jeopardizing both his own future
and the reputation of his athletes?"

As friends from her University of Wisconsin days prepare for a memorial symposium, a sense of Denice Denton's reality begins to emerge:

'She had a tongue-in-cheek attitude about her success in securing grants. [One colleague] recalls how she often wore buttons on her clothes - such as one that read, "Girls just like to have funds."

Denton's ability to decouple from her career won her the admiration of her friends.

"She would travel a lot and go to meetings, and then she'd call me and tell me that she was calling from a beach or a hot tub. When she was here, she would always be the first one to round up people to go to the Terrace on Friday and just hang out. She didn't always have an agenda," says [a second colleague].

Ultimately, Denton's colleagues agree that her favorite song best captured her intense integrity and drive to champion people who needed support.

"In the CD player in her car, she always played this country western music," laughs [a friend]. "Her favorite song, the one she played at her tenure party was [Garth Brooks'] 'I Got Friends in Low Places.'"

"It was her theme song [...] She wasn't too proud for anybody."'

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sometimes the Human Web...

...the worldwide web... can hit you with a pathos and immediacy that nothing else can. You click idly through Google News, and there's a little story about the death of a young professor at Cornell in the crash of his Cessna near Steuben Lake. You Google his name and there's his personal webpage -- some photos, some inspiring quotations, his brief career.

Here's one of his quotations, from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory.

Late afternoon after a long morning in Ubud. We visited the Monkey Forest - a short walk from the Kokokan Hotel - and as is customary with me, I found the trees and walls and sculptures more intriguing than the wildlife. Plenty of ugly gray monkeys underfoot, slowly peeling little bananas and eyeing your hands for more. For me the big star in Bali is the flora - everything grows to a fantastic size, and when you range it about with fountains and altars and pools...

Sun or rain, the landscape is smudgy, like Ireland. Ireland and Bali share the greening of stone that's been wetted and stuck with bits of soil over many years. But Ireland's landscape is treeless, its hills smooth and shadowy, its feel minimalist. The vistas here are utter abundance, bottom to top: rushing narrow water channels, paddy paths, squares of waving rice, ducks, farmers, temples, scarecrows, people parading in the middle distance, palm trees, paper kites, and, farther away, the jagged black tops of volcanoes, their midriffs clouded. "Anyone at all in Bali, seated by the side of the road or elsewhere, who bothers simply to look at what passes before him," wrote an early visitor, "will begin to doubt the reality of what he sees. Everything is beautiful, perfectly beautiful."

I'm sitting on the soft long couch on our balcony at the Kokokan. The rooster's crowing, the gamelan's banging at the music school up the hill, water's hissing from rivers, channels, and ponds. It's only 5:30 and already it's getting dark.

But nothing feels ominous - the dark, the wet, the far from home, the brooding music, the palms overhanging everything, spiders and frogs and lizards and snakes at our feet. Nothing feels ominous.

I want to have the courage of Wilditch, the boy in Graham Greene's witchy tale, Under the Garden. He tunnels underground to find a mysterious old man who instructs him in roguishly eluding the claims of the world: "Have no loyalty. Tell no one your real name."

Karol is a few islands away, on East Timor. He's part of UNTAET, the United Nations Transitional Administration. Among the things he's done there which lie somewhat outside his primary job as a professor of political science at the University of Maryland is defuse conflicts between guerrillas and UN officials.

On his last R&R visit to us, he said: "If anything happens to me, I've written a letter -- I wrote it in Singapore -- for Ania. It's with my important documents in Timor. Give it to her."


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This Site Says...

...Ward Churchill has just been fired.
Sing a Song of Sad Young Men

While this piece at ESPN is not flawless, it is remarkably well-written, bringing an unusual feel -- almost elegiac! -- to sports writing.

UD thanks Dave for sending it to her.

Boise State joined the college football big time in 1996, hoisting itself up to what was, in simpler times, called Division I-A from what was then Division I-AA.

On Jan. 1, 2007, the Broncos upset Oklahoma 43-42 in a Fiesta Bowl game that ranks among the most thrilling in the history of the sport.

That established Boise as the fruition of smaller schools' wildest dreams about upward mobility in college football. The colder and more common reality can be found at the bottom of our rankings of 119 Division I-A teams over the past 10 years.

The basement is where we find most of Boise's peers from the 1990s land rush from I-AA to I-A: dead last at No. 119 we have Buffalo (moved up in 1999); at No. 113 is Louisiana-Monroe (moved up in '94); at No. 107 is Arkansas State (moved up in '92); and at No. 106 is Idaho (moved up in '97).

And don't forget the most recent additions, No. 117 Florida International (started football in 2002 and currently owns the worst winning percentage of them all) and No. 105 Florida Atlantic (started football in 2000).

Look at the have-nots and you can see that Boise is the ultimate exception to a hard-and-fast football rule: Upgrading is an incredibly painful, slow and humbling process. Ambition comes with a heavy price tag.

Nouveau riche strivers tend to get their brains beaten in by the old-money bullies. [Very nice sentence.] They lose games and lose money, oftentimes stretching former I-AA budgets to the breaking point in the upgrade effort. Stadiums must be expanded to meet I-A specs, and other facilities must be built or refurbished to recruit against the established powers.

When the red ink flows, they take on "guarantee" games against power programs, accepting six-figure checks in exchange for fearful whippings on the road. ["fearful whippings on the road" -- again, very nice. Kinky.] That's the college football version of the poverty cycle, making the road from I-AA to BCS glory and riches a boulevard of broken dreams. [Sure, cliches. But you don't mind, right? Because there's a richness here, a sensibility.]

Yet more and more schools want a piece of it, with I-A membership growing from 111 a decade ago to 119 today, and 120 tomorrow. Western Kentucky will be the newest member, giving up habitual I-AA success to join the downtrodden Sun Belt Conference in football.

But the bottom of the barrel is not strictly lined with newbies whose reach has exceeded their grasp. There are a few other categories of schools represented.

Although faced with similar challenges as Air Force and Navy, which have found success at this level, winning records and bowl trips have eluded Army.

There are square pegs in a round-hole sport, such as Army (111), Baylor (101) and Duke (115). Baylor and Duke are academically oriented private schools in meat-grinder conferences full of enormous state universities. Army is a completely different animal -- although, for some reason, fellow military schools Air Force and Navy have had some immense success the past decade.

There are schools languishing because of apathy and/or bad management, like UNLV (104) and Temple (118). Neither has a particularly good excuse for habitual lousiness, beyond a general lack of urgency from the fan base to do a whole lot better. (Duke could fit into this category as well, because basketball completely dwarfs football.) [Throughout this paragraph, there are words that should have been dropped to make things move more briskly: particularly, general, completely...]

There are the chronic poor, schools that have been around awhile with precious little to show for it. Most of them toil in the shadow of larger programs and continually dwell in the bottom half of their conferences. Some of them have been conference gypsies, migrating from one non-power league to another in search of a home. The roll call: Eastern Michigan (116), Ball State (108) and Kent State (109) from the Mid-American Conference; San Jose State (102), New Mexico State (110) and Utah State (114) from the WAC; and Louisiana-Lafayette (112) from the Sun Belt.

And then there is the rogue element: SMU (103), still crawling out of the smoking crater left by the NCAA's first (and undoubtedly last) football death penalty. Twenty years later, the Mustangs remain a shadow of their shadowy former selves. [See, this is nice. I like that volcano thing, and the shadow of the shadowy...]

All told, they make up a bottom 20 teams that almost never play on television and almost never shock the world. Fans give away their tickets to friends and co-workers when these teams come to town -- except when they're scheduled for homecoming. Recruits ignore their text messages. Reporters never call.

The strivers are all dreaming of becoming The Next Boise. But the strivers also know the reality of big-time football is a good deal less glorious.

Toured the north of the island in a Land Rover yesterday.

Frenzied activity everywhere - in the fields, under pavilion roofs, on the roads (two ceremonial parades), on scooters and trucks.

One particular stretch amazed me: a long wide valley of rice paddies and other crops (beans, coffee, cabbage, pineapple, peanuts -- everything grows here), tended by farmers in triangle hats. Hundreds of ducks congregated in the corners of brownish paddies being prepared for a new planting; ingenious scarecrows hung in the backgrounds near offering altars; men and women chatted to one another while squatting in the fields and eating a late breakfast. The scene felt calm and complete, a Corot canvas covering its space with just proportions of people, animals, plants, mountains, and sky.

Unlike the gated nothingness of many parts of America, Bali is visually accessible. As we drove further north, we saw two men bathing in a river beside the road. One stretched his body as we passed, and I said to my daughter You're getting an education and everyone in the Land Rover laughed.

Back at the Kokokan. I'm listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing Angel Eyes while I write this.

A song in a descending minor mode - a very marked minor - is always spiritually convoluted to me, unreachable in some sense. Under the calm top of it, there's depression, confusion, rage... In this sort of song, music seems to present itself as the only acceptable form of expression under grotesque circumstances.

The aggression in the words - the rage at the singer's betrayal by his lover (to me, it's clearly a man's song, and Fitzgerald rather sings it as a man), and his determination to track her and her new lover down - is creepy, as is the singer's description of being haunted by the woman.

But I can't, as I say, really locate the emotion of this song, which makes it all the more seductive. Most songs are extended elaborations of the obvious, but Angel Eyes stays enigmatic. Naturally I'll drag Purcell's Music for A While in here, which also combines formal clarity and muddy feeling. I suspect there's simply too much in these songs -- too much complexity and contradiction -- for us to be able to figure them out, which accounts for their long shelf life.


Cleaver Out For Ward

Ward Churchill is expected to be fired from the University of Colorado today.

Night falls in Ubud, and again at the Kokokan there's the rush of riverwater, the flames of the torches along the paths of the hotel, and the cool island air. I can still see palm fronds, but I've lost sight of the ducks that move all day from lily pond to riverside and back. Earlier, they were jabbing their heads hard into the pondwater, cleaning or eating, I'm not sure which.

A couple of hours ago I was at the Kokokan restaurant, leaning over the second floor balcony and looking at the sheety rain lit up by pond lights, the orange fish in the pond scooting about in the rain, the frogs with their wiggling gorges, the stone steps that curve a path across the pond, the fountain spilling lines of water from its basin's edges. Near the basin, a lizard basked in the glow of a thatched light.

A peculiar gamelan piece the restaurant plays and replays every night crept tonally about my head.

I recalled Saul Bellow's comment about death -- "It's when the pictures will stop." -- and I thought: This is a picture; one of the pictures. I like the way it's fading to black. I want to practice the blackness at the end of the pictures.


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Sort of Companion-Piece... William Deresiewicz's anxious American Scholar piece appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education. An excerpt:

'...[T]here is a special charisma attached to professors — to those who live in and tell us about the realm of spirit or mind — just as there was to representations of preachers in the 19th century. The stereotype, the haughty, bumbling, or lecherous professor, doesn't dispel the fascination with the life of the mind. A professor represents, as Stanley Aronowitz once said, "the last good job in America," where one has relative autonomy in doing one's work. People might begrudge that freedom, but they also might envy it.'

Shouldn't that be "begrudge that freedom and envy it?"

UD reminds her readers that in Money magazine's most recent list of best jobs in America, professor came in second. The magazine provides some commentary:

'The college professor category scored particularly well in stress level, flexibility and creativity. In addition, college professors reported the lowest average number of working hours per week (30) and the highest average number of vacation days (31). Dentists reported the shortest average vacation allowance (14 days).

"While salary is one of the most important factors in determining the worth of a job, workers today are far more selective in their career choice based on the job's growth potential, advancement, stress, and flexibility than in years past," said Meredith Hanrahan, senior vice president of marketing at'

It's even sweeter than this. Don't forget sabbaticals.

UD and others (including Deresiewicz) have pondered the odd fact that, given just about the best job in the world, American college and university professors don't as a group report much happiness. For what it's worth, UD thinks the core reason may lie in all that free time. Free time can be a drag if it's not taken up with engaged thought. Tenure can be a nightmare if you realize you've been given free time for the rest of your life, and you're pissing it away.
Getting Some Breastfeeding Action

'Christy Porucznik, an assistant professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah, wants mothers to be unafraid to breastfeed their babies.

In the middle of the television aisle at Costco. On a plane. Standing in front of a crowd during a work presentation. Christy Porucznik has breastfed her daughter in many public places.

She's not afraid to raise some eyebrows. And Porucznik, an assistant professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah, wants other mothers to do the same.

She and other members of the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition are opening the 2nd Annual Breastfeeding Cafe inside Salt Lake City's Main Library in an effort to help society see breastfeeding as normal rather than taboo.

For the entire month of August, one of the shops on the main floor will become an information center where mothers, fathers and families can learn about the benefits of breastfeeding. The cafe also will be a place where new mothers can relax, breastfeed their infants and talk to other moms amid decorated tables.

"Our goal is to demonstrate that breastfeeding is normal," Porucznik said. "We need to start conversations about it, and not just between moms who are breastfeeding, but between all moms, kids and dads."

The cafe coincides with World Breastfeeding Week, which runs Aug. 1 through Aug. 7 and is celebrated in more than 120 countries, according to its sponsor, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

The cafe name was inspired by the book of the same name, The Breastfeeding Café, a collection of nursing stories submitted by women and compiled by Barbara Behrmann.

The cafe will feature free classes where parents can learn infant CPR, the basics of prenatal, labor and postnatal massage, and ways to teach babies how to sign. Guests also can learn about infant massage, make their own baby slings and hear about hypnobirthing, which helps women give birth without using drugs, Porucznik said.

Mothers can add entries to a list of unusual places where they have breastfed their child, which Porucznik hopes will become a highlight. [That's easy. I breastfed in front of the room during the final exam of my Modern American Poetry course... Grades were really skewed that semester, I remember... women did strikingly better on the test than men... ]

"We want people to know that breastfeeding is everywhere," Porucznik said. "You might be sitting on a TRAX train and think the woman next to you is just cuddling their child, but it's happening all around you."

The cafe will help the public understand that breastfeeding is the "normal, natural thing to do," said Kathy Pope, coalition spokeswoman.

"We're all affected by breastfeeding," Pope said. "It shouldn't be embarrassing or uncomfortable, because you're not violating any indecency laws. Everyone has a right to eat in public - including a baby."'

---salt lake tribune---
Surge in School Pride... the University of Minnesota goes after a whole new class of stadium donors!

'For the past two decades, Robert Sabes owned Schieks Palace Royale, one of the premier strip clubs in downtown Minneapolis and one of a string of business interests that have made Sabes an intriguing figure.

And for more than a year, the University of Minnesota has been chasing the colorful but reclusive Sabes [tough combination, colorful and reclusive], hoping his family would contribute financially to the school's new football stadium.

As recently as a week ago, the university listed the Sabes Family Foundation as verbally committing $1 million to the project -- making Sabes potentially one of the largest donors to the new 50,000-seat stadium.

"The university has had a number of discussions with the foundation about opportunities to support our mission, whether it is the stadium or in another way," said Dan Wolter, a university spokesman.

"We don't comment on discussions with donors and potential donors."

University officials involved in the drive to raise $86 million in private money for the $288.5 million stadium, including Joel Maturi, the school's athletic director, declined to comment on the potential gift or Sabes' background with Schieks.

But a university adjunct professor, who said he had approached Sabes' foundation on behalf of the stadium fundraising drive, said the contribution had grown more uncertain even as school officials count it toward the $60 million already raised privately for the stadium. Andy Andrews, an adjunct professor with the Carlson School of Management, said that the foundation had in effect withdrawn its commitment, and that university officials are now scrambling to get the family to reconsider.

"He's a very generous guy," said Andrews, who said he first approached the foundation at least two years ago and said he was asked recently by stadium fundraising officials to lobby it again. [So a professor at Minnesota has the task of shaking money out of people for the stadium. Is that part of his Annual Review?] Andrews said Sabes' business interests were not part of the university's fundraising discussions, and added that "I don't suppose I gave it much thought. I'm just trying to raise money for the stadium."

Steve Sabes, the family foundation's trustee, said neither the foundation nor Robert Sabes would comment on their discussions with the university. "He's a private person. He just doesn't want to get involved," said Stevn Sabes. Robert Sabes is listed as a foundation manager in 2005, the most recent year for which state records are available. The foundation reported $43 million in assets that year.

A 'minor investment'

Though friends and business associates describe Sabes, 67, as having a long history of philanthropic activity in Minnesota, particularly with Jewish causes, his ownership of Schieks -- and his history of casino and other interests -- has stood in vivid contrast to his charitable work. City records in fact show that Sabes sold Schieks, located in a distinctive bank building on S. 4th Street across from the former federal courthouse, earlier this year for $10 million.

"He doesn't have a bad bone in his whole body," said Jimmy Pesis, a former Minneapolis bar owner and acquaintance of Sabes, who last year was listed in city records as living in Las Vegas. "That bar that you talked about [Schieks] is just some little, minor investment."

Sabes has indeed always been about more than Schieks.

Others who know Sabes describe a wide array of business ventures including, according to state records, companies that owned a variety of local restaurants, among them the Freight House in Stillwater. In the early 1990s, a Sabes-owned restaurant in Minneapolis -- Jersey's Sports Bar -- was listed as having the most police calls in the city. Sabes also made headlines in the mid-1990s when it was disclosed he guaranteed a $40,000 loan to then-Hennepin County Commissioner Sandra Hilary, who sought Sabes' help to battle a gambling addiction.

Sabes, however, has been involved with gambling interests on a larger stage and served, for a time, as chief executive officer for the Gaming Corporation of America, a company that sought casino management contracts with Indian tribes across the country. Sabes complained that federal and state regulators had unfairly cast him, and even his father, Moe, a founder of the American Fruit & Produce Co., as having links to organized crime figures.

"This all seems surreal," Sabes told Corporate Report of Minnesota, a business trade journal, in 1993.

'Giving back is critical'

Robert Kramarczuk, a professor at Hamline University and a friend of Sabes for 40 years, said he and Sabes worked with political leaders in Ukraine in the early 1990s to help bring modern farming methods to the country. "We were a little bit ahead of our time," said Kramarczuk, who said Sabes provided "expertise and money" for the project.

"To him, giving back is critical," said Kramarczuk. "He's probably one of the most generous, forgiving people that I know."

Though many of Sabes' friends downplayed his role with Schieks -- and contend he long wanted to sell it -- a city licensing official said Sabes clearly appeared to be in charge of the strip club during his ownership. Grant Wilson, the city's business license manager, said he and Sabes sparred over littering issues when Schieks employees, mostly young women, handed out promotional cards outside the Metrodome on game days. [No doubt he's planning the same sort of promotional thing for the outside of the university's stadium... And since he's one of its major donors, who's to stop him?] "He fought us every inch of the way," he said.'

---minnesota star tribune---


UPDATE: Mr. Bonzo at The Periodic Table, who seems quite familiar with Schieks, suggests that Maturi might also want to approach the owners of Hooters.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Scarlet Duh

Now that the diploma mill route to college admission has been blocked, learning disability comes roaring down the pike.

"[A]ll it will take is a coach, a doctor and a kid willing to be labeled with a learning disability (LD) to get around" the new NCAA academic eligibiity rules. "Naturally, as this [the Americans with Disabilities Act] is a federal law and that means non-disclosure, schools won't even have to explain that the kids were accepted based on this or diagnosed with the problem. It won't matter. They will be labeled with the scarlet 'duh' if they are able to come to a university after 1 year of prep school after it was supposedly disallowed. What other reason would there be?"

On the way back from snorkeling yesterday, driving the twisting, rutted, up and down, insanely overused mountain roads, it became clear that many Balinese were hurrying, on their thin, cheap-gas-puffing motorcycles, to a village ceremony.

The strange flying circus they made kept passing us in the opposite direction on the road: elaborately costumed men and women -- the men in brilliantly laundered white shirts and hats, the women in lacy orange blouses and long yellow skirts, the women's hair a carefully upswept bun with a pink flower set at its knot, their lips pinky red with lipstick and their cheeks sepia with makeup and their eyes a sexual black with mascara -- balanced with ease and agility on the narrow seat of the scooter.

In front, each man steered each tiny steed, threading it among foul lumbering trucks, sleeping dogs, wandering children, sudden herds of other scooters all going twice the man's speed, groups of crossing pedestrians, random piles of wood and construction equipment... In the back, the woman sat a loose, precarious sidesaddle because of her tight skirt, and she balanced on her head a tall fruit sculpture, and held in her lap a bamboo basket bulging with banners and streamers.

Or perhaps in her lap, or between the man's legs, sat a small child, happy and excited to be sitting up on the scooter with his parents as they just grazed a laundry truck bombing by them downhill at forty miles an hour...

This scene, which continued for ten riveting minutes, comes to me now as... as what? Why so compelling?

An eerie balletic defiance, let's say, in which the Balinese acknowledge modernity by placing their equilibrious asses upon our ugly engines and making them magical broomsticks. All my fear of the machine and my fear of mishap attended my observation of these preternaturally composed spirits, indifferent to choking fumes and speed and bumps, intent on the anticipated ceremony.

As I watched them, I had the following thought: They will fly through my dreams for the rest of my life.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Scathing Online Schoolmarm

UD's already told you that Gophers fans are stupid. In so very many ways. But you don't listen to UD, because she's ...well, you know her demographics. So listen to this guy, who writes for the Minnesota Star Tribune. Admittedly he introduces his opinion piece oddly. But in his own way he's making my point.

'Abraham Lincoln is credited with this observation: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." [We're starting in a galaxy far away from our subject... But it might work...]

Honest Abe [SOS is getting nervous. Honest Abe... ] succumbed to an assassin's bullet in 1865. The University of Minnesota would have its first graduating class in 1873.

There were two graduates, or roughly the number of scholarship basketball players that wore the cloak and gown during the Dan Monson era.

The above timeline makes it obvious that President Lincoln never met a loyal follower of the Golden Gophers, or to maintain honesty he would have amended the quote to say:

"... You cannot fool all of the people all of the time, unless you're talking about Gophers fans." [Whew. What an exhausting way of getting to a very very simple point.]

Lou Holtz proved without question what saps we can be when his relentless bull-slinging instantly filled the Metrodome. To his credit, Holtz brought with him a strong résumé as a head coach. When the rhetoric stopped for three hours on a Saturday, he was a tremendous offensive coach.

Two decades later, we are being swept off our feet by another slinger in Tim Brewster. What this says is our sap ratio actually has increased in the past two decades, since Brewster brings with him only the verbosity and no track record.

The guy coached for 18 years in Division I-A or the NFL and his bosses resisted the urge to make him a coordinator.

The Gophers fired Glen Mason after the bowl choke against Texas Tech, and Joel Maturi started his search. Once Brewster got the athletic director in a room and started excitedly spewing clichés, our poor bumpkin from the Iron Range didn't have a chance. [This gets better as it goes along, but the writer needs to drop some excess weight: excitedly, poor.]

The spewing hasn't stopped since Brewster was hired in mid-January. He has gone running to every group that will have him, flapping his arms like San Diego's Famous Chicken and screeching, "Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl."

He's also the runaway pitchman in recruiting, where his enthusiasm seems to be convincing all of the prospects some of the time.

Brewster reached a new level in his self-promotion last week when he used a sexual assault investigation to tell us how lucky we should feel to have him.

On Monday, Dominic Jones was charged, and it came with the allegation that his actions were videotaped on Alex Daniels' cell phone. Once Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, told the tale, it was certain that the university hierarchy was not going to have Jones, Daniels, Keith Massey and E.J. Jones playing football for the Gophers.

The university allowed Brewster to offer the spin that he had reached independently the decision to dismiss the four players from the team.

A statement was released Wednesday in which Brewster said: "We spend a considerable amount of time addressing our players regarding their personal conduct. ... We are establishing a culture of integrity and we will demand that our players are held accountable for their actions."

Two questions:

• Brewster was on the job for three months when the alleged assault of the 18-year-old woman took place. So, why is the coach bragging about addressing his players on personal conduct, if some of them obviously didn't listen?

• If he's forced to establish a culture of integrity, it would seem that he's telling us it was missing when he took over for Mason. So, how was it that Mason dismissed several players for much less serious failings, without feeling the need to pay tribute to himself for doing so?

Yes, this was a high-profile situation that demanded a statement from the coach, but a simple declaration from Brewster that the action had been taken would have left no room for cynicism.

Throw in Maturi's comment -- "I am in full support of the decision of coach Brewster and I appreciate how he has handled this very difficult situation" -- and it all comes off as more of an ain't-Tim-great sales pitch than a sincere reaction to this embarrassment suffered in the athletic department.

You're being manipulated, folks, but as we've learned previously, a football coach with a talent for slinging can fool all of the Gophers fans all of the time.'



Kecak dance last night at the Kokokan. A mild smudgy sky with a clouded moon and a calm wind. La kid was lovely in her latest tailor-made dress from the little shop down the street. Her sun-lightened hair puffed out thick and chic. Pre-Raphaelite waves sat on top of the thickness, because that afternoon she'd loosened her braids.

At seven precisely the lights of the outdoor theater dimmed and sweaty men in loincloth appeared en masse, thumping in to the beat of their own voices: kakakakakakakak.

Syncopated. Monkey men.

Little boys also in tight checked loincloth brought in flaming torches. "Tres primitif!" I whispered to la kid, who gazed uncomprehending as I amused myself with my lame ironies.

The main monkey man, or the brother in the Ramayan story about slaying some giant in a cave, now leapt onto the stage, muttering and hissing; he and the fattish nasty giant, who spat in the audience's general direction, fell to fighting Three Stooges style. The audience didn't know whether to laugh or maintain its grim respect for native customs.

Apparently, though, this particular dance was choreographed not long ago by some Japanese, and was in any case for the most part the brainchild of modern European expatriates.

The mean giant now set to terrorizing one of the little boy monkeys, and did so good a job that the child impersonating the monkey began to cry for real, his eyes wide with fright. The good monkey brother lifted the child and consoled him, and the child went back to his monkey with a torch impersonation.

Meanwhile, clots of man monkeys hoisted the two combatants, who went at it extremely violently (the earnest American mother of three, who with her earnest hub is at the moment staying at the Kokokan, sat next to me totally appalled) -- it was really a human cockfight -- until the mean giant shuffled backwards off the stage, holding a reedy torch in front of his face to signal death. A few more celebratory poundings ensemble and the man monkeys were through.

I adored it. La kid was a bit scared.

I think I handled it sensitively: 'MEAN GIANT COMING TO SPIT ON YOU.'

ud's bali journal, summer 2000


UD Returns to Rehoboth Beach...

...for the next two weeks. Compulsive blogging will continue, of course.

Note that Balinesia, her series of excerpts from the journal she kept while living on Bali seven years ago, will also continue.
God, Chili Dip

Another university president becomes a blogger.

Friday, July 20, 2007


"Every life is a special problem which is not yours but another's," wrote Henry James to Grace Norton in 1883. "Content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own."

I've always been too curious about other people for this approach.

Today, at my favorite internet cafe in Ubud, I idly read the private email of a man sitting near me. Had never done this before, and felt guilty doing it, but there you are.

The man had arrived at the cafe on a motorcycle; with his helmet on he looked rugged, though oldish: big, Australian or American, wearing an Indo skirt -- had the aspect of someone who's been up in them thar paddies quite awhile.

When he took off his helmet strands of oily blondish hair straggled down his back. Fossilized hippie.

He was answering an email that went something like this:

Enjoying the leafy beauty of Oregon. But full of sadness. I try to remember that at bottom all that matters is love, but things are difficult. Maybe next summer I'll visit you in your Bali paradise...

For some reason it reminded me of this passage, from Wallace Shawn's book, The Fever:

We were looking forward for so long to some wonderful night in some wonderful hotel, some wonderful breakfast set out on a tray - we were looking forward, like panting dogs slobbering on the rug - to how we would delight the ones we loved with our kisses in bed, how we would delight our parents with our great accomplishments, how we would delight our children with toys and surprises. But it was all wrong - it was never really right. The hotel, the breakfast, what happened in our bed, our parents, our children - and so, yes, we need solace. We need consolation - we need nice food, we need nice things to wear, we need beautiful paintings, movies, plays, drives in the country, bottles of wine. There's never enough solace, never enough consolation.

I go on and on about Purcell's song Music for A While as my all-time fave, the song of songs, but here in Bali, when I lean over my balcony to look at the paddies and the river, it's another Purcell I end up singing, a setting (Z. 379C -- one of three settings Purcell wrote) of If Music Be the Food of Love.

Why that one? Much less clouded than Music for A While. One line in particular thrills me every time I sing it, every time I arrive at its final word: Sing on, sing on; til I am filled with joy. To come to the end of that lengthy line with its complex runs is to be breathless with happiness. It's a euphoric release, finishing that difficult phrase on joy.

Found a gloss on my thoughts about Purcell reanimating himself in me, and I reanimating myself in Purcell. It's in The Unquiet Grave, by Cyril Connolly:

To construct from the mind and to colour with the imagination a work which the judgment of unborn arbiters will consider perfect is the one immortality of which we can be sure. When we read the books of a favourite writer together with all that has been written about him, then his personality will take shape and leave his work to materialize through our own. The page will liberate its author; he will rise from the dead and become our friend. So it is with Horace, Montaigne, Sainte-Beuve, with Flaubert and Henry James: they survive in us, as we increase through them.

Hm. I start and end today with James.

---summer, 2000---


Moderately Amusing, and... get to vote.

Sarah Lawrence has an impressive lead.

UD likes this bit of prose from one reader. It's about people like UD, who, although decades removed from their liberal arts college experience, "relive it on screened-in porches years later when they find an old joint pressed into a copy of The Stranger, so they toke it even though it's stale and they remember a little bit but then go to bed and wake up just the same as they were the day before."
Sometimes a Diploma Mill Story...

... can reveal systemic corruption. Frankfort Kentucky's firefighters are pissed about it.

'Franklin County's Director of Disaster and Emergency Services obtained his job with a degree from a diploma mill.

Now city officials are paying for Deron Rambo to go back to school and get the bachelors degree the job requires. [No bachelor's degree, and he bought a master's from a mill. The city's response? All is forgiven. Let us pay for you to go to school.]

The decision has outraged members of Local 1017 who packed union headquarters Tuesday night making sure to leave space for the evening's special guest.

Only Mayor Bill May never showed.

"He conveniently e-mailed me back and said he had a scheduling conflict that he couldn't make it," said Union President John Haden.

The action considered to be the latest slap in the face to Frankfort employees.

"The chief made up his mind and the city manager, the commission and the personnel director they've all said they're done. That's their decision and that's the way it's going to be," Haden continued.

After discovering that Rambo's master's degree was from a diploma mill, and that he never even had a bachelor's degree, the city has decided to let him stay and at a recent council meeting the mayor made this quite apparent.

The city maintains Rambo was duped into thinking this degree was from an accredited university but these union members aren't buying it.

"Either way he was frauded, or he was stupid, so either way he's not qualified to do the job. [Too right.] And then he calls us unprofessional because we bring it up and that really irritates me. I've earned everything that I've got," said Lt. Jeff Brooks.

In fact, many firefighters believe they were qualified for Rambo's position but were passed over.

"It took me four years and 16 full-time credit hours to get my bachelor's degree," said firefighter Gary Gebhardt.

"They did effectively discriminate against every single one of us by telling us up front that we were not eligible for this position," echoed Sgt. Jack Williams.

Not only do they feel discriminated against, these union members fear the action sets a strong precedent in allowing policy to be changed at any time.

"It's not a union issue, it's a fire department issue. It effects [should be affects] every member of this fire department because that means from now on they can change any policy, any qualification and promote whoever they want, whenever they want. If you don't stand up now they're going to keep on doing it," said KPFF President Bruce Roberts.

The union is looking into the possibility of filing a class action lawsuit against the city on the basis of discrimination.'
University Dairies
(I've Been Aching to Make This Pun.)

'Central Missouri dairy producers got together at the University of Missouri’s Foremost Dairy research and teaching center on Wednesday.

It was a chance for producers to see demonstrations of some cutting-edge technology: a fetal sexing demonstration using ultrasound technology and a computerized feed tracking system that takes the guesswork out of feeding.

Several kids joined their farming parents at the event; some even got to touch the fistulated cow.'

---brownfield network---
Bad Here;
Worse Overseas

'In Korea, it is not rare for academics or instructors to come to fame based on false academic certificates or backgrounds. A scandal surrounding the fake degrees of prominent Dongguk University art historian Shin Jeong-ah suggests there must be many others who lie about their achievements and get away with it. Part of the reason is a culture that relies excessively on glamorous-looking degree certificates and a system incapable of sifting the grain from the chaff.

How fakes succeed

In March last year, some 120 people were indicted by prosecutors for buying fake master's or doctoral degrees from a Russian conservatory of music. Each paid a broker about W20 million (US$1=W915) for the fake degree certificate. All they did was visit Russia for a week. Many were lecturers, and some were even professors. They went so far as to organize a Russian Music Society based on their flying visit.

Until 2002, Hwang In-tae was a famous TV panelist on the strength of a bachelor's degree in economics from Seoul National University and experience as a CNN reporter and a fund manager at Magellan Fund. None of it was true. His highest academic qualification was a few subjects in a high-school graduate equivalency exam.

In 2004, a private university in Seoul hired a 37-year-old American as an assistant professor of English on the strength of a master's degree from Columbia University and a doctorate from Central Michigan University. Both were fake. Early this month, police arrested a professor at Gwangju National University of Education for having registered a doctorate from a regular U.S. university with the Korea Research Foundation, although the degree came in fact from a non-accredited American institution.

Loopholes in verification

Despite the flood of scandals, measures supposed to prevent falsification of degrees or academic background offer many loopholes. The Education Ministry vowed in spring last year to establish an ethics department within the KRF to strengthen supervision of degree holders. But no such department has opened yet. Some American degrees such as JD (juris doctor), DMA (doctor of music arts) and D.Min. (doctor of ministry) are not subject to the KRF's listing. That makes them easy targets for con artists. In addition, there has been no study of how many degree-related frauds there have been and how they succeeded.

According to the Higher Education Act, holders of foreign doctoral degrees have to report to the KRF under the Education Ministry within six months after their return home. They are supposed to make entries about their personal information and degrees on the KRF webpage first, and submit copies of their certificates and theses later. The KRF then reviews the documents and issues receipts, and publishes the theses in the archives of the Korea Education and Research Information Service.

But the KRF only checks if the necessary documentation is received but does not verify certificates' authenticity. And even if graduates fail to report their degree to the KRF, there is no disadvantage. "The system aims to check how many holders of foreign degrees are working in the country, not to verify their authenticity,” a KRF official says. “Colleges or universities should check and verify the theses of their recruits. That's their responsibility." But, as seen in the case of Shin Jeong-ah, this has proved useless.

Park Sung-hyun, a professor of computer science and statistics at Seoul National University, said, "The culture where many people are bent on succeeding by all means, is leading many people to falsify their academic background. Each school has to strengthen its degree verification system."'

---Digital Chosun Ilbo, Korea---

Thursday, July 19, 2007


'Ex-Aldermen Crash College Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Mayor Richard Daley has officiated at scores of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings since he became mayor in 1989, most of them prosaic and forgettable affairs.

But a ceremony Wednesday at the new Kennedy-King College promises to be scorched permanently onto the mayor's mental hard drive after two angry ex-aldermen crashed the party in the midst of the congratulatory speechifying.

"Didn't even get an invitation to come!" exclaimed Shirley Coleman, interrupting the speech of a City Colleges of Chicago official as she took a vacant seat on the stage a few spots down from the mayor. "Just found out 10 minutes ago!"

From behind dark glasses Coleman fixed a steady glare that appeared aimed Daley's way as she was joined onstage by former Ald. Arenda Troutman, who took the seat next to hers. The mayor looked straight ahead.

When they represented the adjacent 16th and 20th Wards, respectively, Coleman and Troutman were involved in planning for the long-awaited $254 million college at 63rd and Halsted Streets. In 2003, they used a parliamentary maneuver to delay consideration of a zoning change, complaining that not enough of the construction work would be going to African-American firms.

Though she had Daley's support, Coleman was defeated in her re-election bid earlier this year by challenger JoAnn Thompson. Troutman lost to Willie Cochran after her indictment on federal corruption charges.

Officials who spoke Wednesday before the arrivals of the two former aldermen boasted that 174 workers from the neighborhoods around the new six-building campus had worked on the project and that about $90 million in contracts went to minority firms.

"It can be done," Daley said of the minority participation in remarks delivered before Coleman and Troutman invaded the stage. "Remember that. It can be done on every project, public or private."

Daley did not mention either of the former aldermen in his speech.

Montel Gayles, executive director of the public building commissioner, which oversaw construction of the $254 million project, sought to smooth ruffled feathers.

"We believe we sent you an invitation," he said to Coleman and Troutman as he stood on the stage near them. "Whether we sent it or not from my heart I apologize for you not receiving one, but we would not be here today if it wasn't for the work these two aldermen put forth. With no hard feelings and no regret, I am glad they are here. I am glad that they are here to share with us the success of this day. Now with that said, let's move on with our program."

The two women were not mollified.

After "all of the tears and years of planning and communicating with the community," the slight was "a complete insult," Coleman told reporters after the ceremony. "This college would not have been here but for us. We stopped the project, made the mayor mad at us to get minority participation."

Troutman -- who appeared in court Wednesday morning as she fights an 18-count indictment for bribery, extortion, mail fraud and tax evasion -- said she got a call from her sister, who had been informed by a community resident of the ribbon cutting.

"I came down from the federal building," said Troutman, who called the alleged lack of an invitation a "slap in the face."

About five people in the crowd earlier displayed signs thanking Troutman for her help with the project.

She was unable to explain how her supporters knew of the ribbon cutting when she didn't.

"Obviously, people still believe in me," she said. "People love me, I guess."

Daley later insisted that invitations had been sent to both women.'

At ten to seven in the morning, the familiar waking sounds of the Kokokan Hotel relax me: the clink of teaspoons being set out on the tables by the swimming pool in preparation for breakfast, the doofus roosters, the plinking of water into ponds, the tubercular cough of scooters gearing up for today's demolition derby on the broken streets of Ubud. I've settled into the routine of life chez Kokokan - the breakfast ladies, the pool, the quiet shuttle drivers, the glorious churning river.

There's already gamelan music in the background, and birdsong, and throaty frogs in the stone fountain. Incense spices the air. As I walk outside our room, there's a constant breeze, and clear skies with wifty clouds, and the low murmur of the hotel staff sweeping porches. Butterflies are rampant: they're black, or yellow and black, or they're that shiny blue that's almost black. The massive spider web hung from the branches of three trees across the courtyard bounces in the wind, and the red and yellow hibiscus flowers on the bushes just up the hill sway. The hotel staff picks these flowers each morning and puts them in the mouths of Hindu statues.

The sun lights up the small bit of terraced rice paddy that our porch overlooks, across the river. The wind pokes at the thready streamers on top of bamboo poles in the paddies. Frondy palms shake. The world's alight and abounding: in the sky, the kites that Balinese children like to fly bump along.

I'm thinking about my Purcell songs. When I sing Purcell and feel both his odd antiquity and my entirely contemporary engagement with it, I feel confirmed in both an immediate and a distant world... which I suppose brings me back to the idea I wrote about before: the idea that beauty is for me in large part about consort with the dead. "Come back now and help me with these verses. / Whisper to me some beautiful secret that you remember from life," writes Donald Justice in an elegy for a friend of his who was also a poet. If I can be entirely inside a Purcell song, then his spirit reanimates itself in me. It's as if there's a core within some human beings that can't be extinguished by death, and that in consort with the consciousness of someone like Purcell I also reanimate myself.

---summer, 2000---


They Even Provide a Timeline!

'It was rabbit season Wednesday at North Dakota State University.

Only no one told residents or the Fargo police.

For more than 12 years, with the approval of NDSU police, maintenance employees have shot rabbits to keep the creatures’ population down on campus.

And for the first time, someone noticed.

NDSU landscape employee Wayne Larson was just following orders in the early hours of Wednesday morning, when dozens of Fargo and university police swarmed the campus looking for a reported gunman.

Larson was reducing the campus’ “phenomenal” rabbit problem by shooting the creatures with an air pellet gun, said Ray Boyer, director of NDSU police and safety.

The bunnies destroy plants and crops on campus, he said.

But the scene caught the eye of a neighborhood resident, who called 911 at 6:42 a.m. after seeing a man, later identified as Larson, with the gun on 15th Avenue North and University Drive.

University officials canceled the longstanding practice of shooting rabbits after Wednesday morning’s incident, said Boyer, adding he was the one who originally OK’d the practice.

The 911 call Wednesday marked the first time someone made a complaint in connection with the university’s practice, he said.

“These small things don’t seem like they’re harmful until you see it through someone else’s eyes,” Boyer said.

Although discharging firearms – including pellet guns – within Fargo city limits is illegal, no charges will be recommended against Larson, Boyer said.

“This employee was in the course of his duties and he had my approval to do so,” Boyer said.

Larson and his supervisors at NDSU’s Department of Facilities Management could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

NDSU President Joseph A. Chapman – whose background expertise in biology focuses on rabbits and similar animals [Ah ha!] – was in Minot when the incident occurred and declined to comment until he returns to Fargo at the end of this week, NDSU University Relations Director David Wahlberg said.

Fargo police don’t plan to recommend charges because the incident took place on campus, giving university police control of the case, Fargo police Capt. Tod Dahle said.

“How NDSU chooses to handle the situation is NDSU’s business,” Dahle said. “I doubt we’re going to overrule their call.”

However, Dahle sounded surprised when told that campus police didn’t plan to pursue the case.

“The way the ordinance is written you can’t even carry it around town if it’s not in a case,” Dahle said. “You can’t discharge those (firearms) in town.”

After the Virginia Tech shootings three months ago, it comes as no surprise that a person with a gun on a college campus would send fears through the community, Wahlberg said.

NDSU released a notice about the incident to all students, faculty and staff at 8:29 a.m. – more than an hour and 45 minutes after police were dispatched. By then, police had discovered it was Larson who was wielding the pellet gun, while controlling the rabbit population.

“It was more of an informational than an alert,” Wahlberg said of the e-mail notice. “We didn’t get to that point where we had to lock down the campus. If it was more severe, we would have sent something out sooner.”

Timeline of events

- 6:42 a.m.: Red River Valley Regional Dispatch Center receives a 911 call from a woman reporting “a man pointing a rifle out of the window of his vehicle” on North Dakota State University’s campus.

Fargo and university police are dispatched to the scene.

- 7:44 a.m.: Police clear the area near 15th Avenue North and University Drive, having not located the suspect.

The police officers’ investigation led them to discover later that it was an NDSU employee shooting rabbits.

- 8:29: NDSU releases the following e-mail to all students, faculty and staff:

NDSU Police and Fargo Police have given the “all-clear” after investigating a report this morning of a man suspected of holding a weapon on the north side of campus.

Shortly after 7 a.m., a woman called Fargo Police to report that she believed she saw a man with a rifle in the vicinity of the Bison Sports Arena.

Police responded rapidly, blocking traffic and searching the area near University Drive and 15th Avenue North. According to Ray Boyer, director of the University Police and Safety Office, authorities investigated and determined the person was not a threat to the public.

“The woman who reported the incident did the right thing,” said Boyer. “It is important to treat situations like this very seriously and keep safety foremost in our minds.”'

--In-Forum News, Fargo--
For Explanation,
Consult UD:

"Varieties of
Among Senior


'The case of an Ole Miss professor whose speeding ticket was returned to court decorated with X-rated comments has been referred to county prosecutors, Gallaway Police Chief Jason Collins said Wednesday.

Dr. Stephen D'Surney, 55, who has taught at the University of Mississippi for 15 years, could not be reached at home in Collierville or at the school Wednesday. He is an associate professor of biology.

Collins said it is not clear who wrote racial, ethnic, religious and sexist slurs on the citation, though he said the handwriting on the signed ticket was similar to D'Surney's signature on his check and in a letter he sent to the court.

Collins was too embarrassed to read the words to a reporter, so he spelled them out. [Spelled them out?]

The comments disparaged Gallaway, Baptists, Southerners, minorities and the female officer who wrote the ticket. There also was a reference to a nuclear bomb destroying the small Fayette County town. [Guy must have small handwriting. That's a lot to get on a ticket.]

Next to the comments was D'Surney's signature and driver's license number signifying he was pleading guilty to the speeding charge, Collins said.

Collins said D'Surney was stopped June 17 as he drove east on U.S. 70 through Gallaway, going 58 in a 45 mph zone. D'Surney was driving a Toyota Camry.

"When he returned the payment on July 7 from his Collierville home," the comments were written on the front and back of the citation, Collins said.

"The city returned his payment (by overnight mail) and sent him a summons to appear in City Court last night (Tuesday night)."

Collins said officials wanted an explanation of how the citation was defaced, and by whom. "We were looking for an answer because of the nature of the language. It was very, very surprising to us."

Meanwhile, D'Surney sent the payment back in, and said he could not be in court Tuesday, and was moving out of state.

He asked to plead guilty and said he'd not written the comments on the ticket.

Collins said Gallaway Municipal Judge Price Harris accepted the guilty plea and assessed a fine and court costs of $110, which is the amount of D'Surney's check.

"I will forward the rest of the paperwork to the District Attorney General's Office to see if there are any violations of law, or a basis for criminal prosecution," Collins said.

Collins said he doesn't know if prosecutors will consider the comments a threat, racial slurs or a hate crime, or "nothing more than public officials taking a bashing. That's what the legal question is going to be."

Ole Miss spokesman Jeff Alford said the school would not comment. "This is an individual personnel matter and the university is not involved in it at all."'

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

David Light:
An Interesting Mix

'A Calhoun College junior was arrested Monday and suspended from the University after he allegedly fired a handgun inside the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

David Light ’09, 21, was charged with several weapons-related crimes, and police found a large cache of weapons in his room at the fraternity house at 36 Lynwood Place, according to a University statement. Law enforcement officials subsequently confiscated two illegal assault rifles and nine other firearms from Light’s residence, along with ammunition and a supply of chemicals, the University said.

Light, a resident of Woodland Park, Colorado, was charged with two counts of illegal possession of assault rifles, unlawful discharge of a firearm, reckless endangerment in the first degree, threatening in the second degree and breach of peace in the second degree.

After a party on Friday, Light was seen at the fraternity with one of his handguns and later fired two rounds into a ceiling at the fraternity, according to an arrest warrant, a television report said Tuesday. A visitor at Beta asked him to stop, but Light told him he was only firing blanks, and added, when pressed, “Why don’t I point it at your head to find out?”

The visitor then notified police, who got a search warrant for Light’s third-floor room in Beta on Monday night. There had been no injuries in the incident at Friday's party.

Two students who were at Beta during the raid said about six law enforcement officials, one in body armor, entered the fraternity at around 10:30 p.m. to conduct a search and arrest Light. Police ordered everyone to stay put, said Rachel Oppenheimer, a rising sophomore at Kenyon College who is staying in New Haven this summer.

Forty-five minutes later, police said they had found bomb-making materials and evacuated the house, she said.

Another student, who had stayed at the house for a few days before moving into University housing, said he once saw Light carrying two large firearms up the stairs inside the house, and another time saw a “serious-looking” high-powered rifle at the fraternity, which he thought was suspicious.

“Last night, it fell into place,” he said. “I felt foolish that I didn’t tell someone.”

Around Yale, Light was widely known as a gun enthusiast, and his large gun collection was not something he tried to keep hidden, students said. On his Facebook profile, which was removed Tuesday afternoon, Light listed pyrotechnics, weaponry and firearms among his interests.

“It wasn’t very much of a secret at all,” said David Koppstein ’08, who took an advanced biology course with Light. “He talked about it. I wasn’t sure about the details, which guns he had specifically, but he just seemed to enjoy that in general.”

A local television report showed photographs of Light, reportedly from his MySpace page, posing with guns. Light described himself on his Facebook profile as a member of the New Haven Sportsman’s Club, a gun range in Guilford, and a member of the club confirmed that Light was a regular there. The student who lived in Beta said he saw Light with a target, the type that would be used at a rifle range.

The club member, who declined to give his name, said Light was a bright student whose interest in guns was not a threat to anyone.

"He's a perfectly normal person,” he said. “He's not a crazy guy. To be honest … things always get blown out of proportion when it comes to arrests with firearms."

Light is a member of Beta and is president of Chabad at Yale ["An environment where being Jewish is fun," it says on the website.], a Jewish student group. [Under "Student Leadership" on the website, things are suspiciously empty.] A biology major, Light listed himself on Facebook as a member of the Yale Class of 2008, though the University identifies him as a rising junior.

Classmates described Light as a top-notch student, and some suggested his interest in the sciences might explain the chemicals that were found in his residence. He is said to have taken Yale’s Rain Forest Expedition and Laboratory course and may have traveled to Peru this spring as part of that class.

According to his Facebook page, Light works for Guilford-based RainDance Technologies, a nanotechnology start-up, researching market opportunities and recruiting investors. In 2005, Light worked in the Center for High Technology Materials at the University of New Mexico, focusing on microchip research.

Officials at RainDance could not be reached late Tuesday, nor could the New Mexico professor who supervised Light’s research.

The New Haven Register reported Tuesday on its Web site that the weapons seized from Light’s residence included a .50-caliber rifle, AR-15 assault weapon, a Russian M-91 infantry rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, various pistols and bomb-making materials, including a large bottle of mercury. Light reportedly did not have permits for any of his weapons.

The Colt AR-15, considered an assault rifle by state statue, is illegal to own by Connecticut law. Possession of an assault weapon is a Class D felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison, unless it is a first-time offense and the weapon was legally acquired before the state’s assault weapons ban went into effect in 1993. It was not immediately clear which weapon resulted in the second count of illegal possession of an assault rifle.

Light was known not just as a gun enthusiast but as a collector as well, according to students. The M-91 infantry rifle, for instance, was last produced during World War I and is considered a collectible, likely worth hundreds of dollars...'

--yale daily news---
Legal History Blog...

...authored by Mary Dudziak, professor of law, history, and political science at the University of Southern California, also links to and quotes from UD's Liberal Education article on the online amplification effect.

UD's certainly making the rounds.
Introducing a
New Feature on
University Diaries


Rent-A-Ruminant could be the name of this very blog, a place you go to watch someone ruminate not only on university issues, but also on Life Itself. And because it's the summer and university stories are a little less thick on the ground, and because UD lived on Bali in 2000 and kept a journal about Life Itself there, and to celebrate the fact that, as Reuters just reported, tourists are finally returning to Bali after a 2002 terrorist bomb emptied the island, UD inaugurates a summer feature on University Diaries -- Balinesia -- in which she offers excerpts from her Bali journals.

Go to her branch campus at Inside Higher Education for current university stories.


The Kokokan Hotel's setting is green and lush beyond belief. It lies along a fast-moving river and rice paddies. A dozen ducks live on the banks, and it's a pleasure to sit at a brookside table and listen to the water run and watch the ducks fuss, while in the background terraced rice grasses wave in the wind, and above them enormous palms do the same. A rooster stalks the grounds in the morning and keeps up a pompous racket for the rest of the day. Lizards lounge on our beach chairs, scuttling away when we approach from the pool.

A high wind ripples the rice plants, and oily brown water pours over the sluice below. The sun is marvelously out as the ducks, now in the lily ponds on the other side of the river, make their strange rounds. It's a landscape in perpetual motion and at the same time tranquil -- a cultivated and dynamic place.

I've taken a swim, and am now drinking tea riverside. The noise of the heavy river water is deafening, and yet I'm always drawn to it. Why do I love this covering noise? The tumult water makes when it's plentiful, and a sort of answering tumult in the rippling of the palms and the rice plants... Gaia visibly alive - her breath, her watery veins... The marvel of the water's ongoingness, the way nothing stops its flow. I can relax on my little overlook. The world's moving along just fine without me.

Three men work on the roof of the building under construction across the lily pond. They're hammering sheets of bamboo webbing. It looks slippery up there -- the men move laterally with great care. A woman appears nearby in the rice paddy just above the channel next to the river: she carries on her head with absolute ease a full laundry basket. She wears a light green sweater to match the rice plants, and a long brown batik skirt.

The late afternoon sun creates a blanket effect along the river - a generalized green, threaded with white rivulets pouring out from among ferns massed on the sides of the terraced paddies. Each rivulet is a secret water garden, hidden behind foliage. Women stand in the river wetting the webbing that the men will cover with wood beams. They're tightening the webbing, I suppose. Making it raintight.

Because no one else can hear me, and because I can't resist, I sing through all my Henry Purcell songs sitting here -- Fairest Isle, Music for a While, Altisidora's Song. Each song seems to fit the setting remarkably well. They're celebrations of loveliness, generosity, lack of covetousness, ease, and of places where all of these seem to come together. The long vocal runs (pleh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-sure...) trip nicely along with the riverrun, and things seem somehow in alignment, as they are supposed to be. Bali is a body of earth wearing its loose clothes well.

Do other people, I wonder, feel that their experience of pleasure of this transporting sort is in part for the sake of people who have died? (There's a sudden scent of incense as offerings to the gods are scattered about the hotel.) When I come to a place like this, I feel the spirit of the aesthetes whose work I love because they loved the world: Frank O'Hara, Paul Monette, James Agee, Thomas Wolfe, Albert Camus, Malcolm Lowry, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman. All of these men died young. I could swear they're lounging nearby, watching me experience for them the measure of bliss they missed.

Or, less sadly, they're applauding from the wings as another consciousness tries to maintain the sort of relationship to the world that was important to them.

Beauty calls us forth. It confirms our intimation of some aspect of immortality. We should attend to it, for ourselves and for the dead.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jacob T. Levy...

...a law blogger and professor of political theory at McGill, links to UD's Liberal Education piece about universities and the blogosphere.

... As does Ralph Luker, UD's old friend, and the heart and soul of the great blog Cliopatria.

Pat Kilkenny's nothingness (journey to the underworld here) has inspired a second University of Oregon faculty member (here's the first) to try to wrest some meaning from the void:

1. What are Kilkenny's plans to reverse the declining graduation rates of our athletes? The graduation rate of UO athletes has declined precipitously in five years, to 47.3 percent from 78 percent.

The current overall UO graduation rate is 63.3 percent. We are below the national Division IA average graduation rate in nine out of 13 NCAA sports, according to NCAA data.

2. How does Kilkenny reconcile the unusually high percentage of UO student-athletes admitted despite not meeting admission requirements ("special admits") with his expressed interest in increasing athlete graduation rates?

The latest data show that 18.7 percent of freshman athletes are special admits, compared to only 1.5 percent of the rest of the freshman class. Reducing the special-admit percentage might improve the graduation rate.

3. Is Kilkenny certain the UO athletic department is "self-sustaining"?

The NCAA states that only seven of its 1,200-plus member institutions are truly self-sustaining. Many hidden costs are not counted as athletic expenditures, such as athlete tuition remissions, facility planning and central administrators' time. When the real costs are added up, it may be that the UO athletic department is not fiscally independent of university funds.

4. Precisely how does building a palatial $220 million arena contribute to the athletic department's self sufficiency? Current estimates suggest that 25 percent of the cost, or about $55 million, will have to be borrowed. The loan will be guaranteed by the university, not the athletic department.

More worrisome is that in order to make the loan payments, the arena will have to be rented out about 40 days each year for circuses, pop concerts, motorcycle racing and other traveling shows. That's like buying too big a house and having to rent out rooms to pay the mortgage.

5. How will erecting an arena "continue to pump money back into the university's budget"? No funds currently flow on a regular or irregular basis from athletics to academics, and there are no plans for such flows to occur. Moreover, if the arena fails to generate sufficient income to make the loan payments, funds will be diverted from academics to athletics.

6. How does the notion of fiscal prudency fit into the athletic department's spending spree in the past six months? The basketball coach received a hefty raise (well deserved, in my opinion); two new and expensive sports have been added (men's baseball and women's competitive cheerleading); a $10 million-plus athlete-only academic learning center is planned; millions are being pumped into Hayward Field; and Kilkenny's predecessor was paid $1.8 million to retire. Then there's the $220 million or more to be spent on the arena.

7. How does massive spending on athletics fit into the UO mission? The UO mission statement starts by saying we are "a comprehensive research university that serves its students and the people of Oregon, the nation and the world through the creation and transfer of knowledge in the liberal arts, the natural and social sciences and the professions."

To attain that lofty goal, the UO initiated a $600 million to $700 million fundraising campaign. To date we have raised $500 million, one third of which has gone to athletics. We are No. 1 in the country in the percentage of university fundraising campaign going to athletics. At most schools, that number is 15 percent or less. If the arena is built, the campaign percentage earmarked for athletics will rise to nearly 50 percent.

These skewed funding priorities have resulted in some embarrassing imbalances: Music students practice in bathroom stalls for lack of proper facilities; the number of UO graduate students has declined over the past 35 years; student-teacher ratios have risen by 20 percent; and many undergraduates are unable to enroll in the classes they need.

Yet we have the resources to fly in 17-year-old recruits on private jets, outfit the football team annually with garish new uniforms, replace the new, million dollar artificial turf at Autzen Stadium because it didn't feel quite right, and supply football players with individual video gaming stations in each of their lockers.

One final question:

8. Is the UO an institution devoted to education with a few sports teams, or are we an entertainment business that happens to give a few degrees on the side?

---nathan tublitz, the register-guard---
The Last Time We Saw Joel Maturi...

...the AD at the University of Minnesota expressed astonishment at the remarkably difficult thing paying for a new, way-inflated football stadium has turned out to be. He and all the other guys pushing the idea a few years ago were, like, totally convinced it'd be a piece of cake, and now, as construction begins, the university's getting desperate...

There's also the awkwardness -- which has dimmed various inaugural celebrations -- of rape charges against one of his players, and the possibility of similar charges against three others. [UD pipes up parenthetically in what follows]:

Prosecutors call it rape at a drunken party which was caught on cell phone video [Way to record yourself doing it.] and they're charging University of Minnesota football player Dominic Jones in the case.

However, WCCO-TV has confirmed that another U of M football player who'd been kicked off the team actually organized the party.

Robert McField had been convicted of two armed robberies but was somehow still living in campus housing the night of the attack. [Another shocker!]

On Monday, Jones was charged with sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The victim's blood alcohol was .30.

A friend of Jones had taken a video of part of the assault on his cell phone at the apartment that night. The file was deleted, but forensic experts examining the phone were able to recover a portion of the deleted file. The female in the video was unresponsive and was identified as the victim. The male in the video was identified as Jones.

...[T]hree other players, Alex Daniels, EJ Jones and Keith Massey, are still suspects in this case months after being arrested and then released.

...[The] former player, Robert McField, named only as "R.M." in the criminal complaint... [is] the one who brought the victim and her friend to his apartment in University Village, and court documents claim it was McField who gave the victim eight shot glasses of straight vodka.

However, the question is why was McField still living in University housing? The month before the party, he had pleaded guilty to two felony counts of armed robbery in Missouri.

The University had known for months about the allegations, he had actually been kicked off the football team in October because of them. It was not until several weeks after the party that McField was finally kicked out of the University.

The University of Minnesota's attorney Mark Rotenberg said: "There was a period of time between when this student plead guilty to the crimes and the date to which we got him out of the University. That time lag was unfortunate."

McField is already doing time in prison for robbery.

Jones, a junior, is strong safety from Columbus, Ohio. He is one of the Gophers' best defensive players, a two-year starter who is also a standout kick-returner. He was arrested at his apartment in University Village.

Jones is scheduled to be in court Tuesday morning and will have prominent defense attorney Earl Grey defending him.

All four players being named in the case have been suspended from the football team.

There's a game try at damage control from a local booster/reporter:

Gophers football coach Tim Brewster is so intent on limiting distractions that he is taking his team to pastoral St. John's University in Collegeville for the first week of fall camp early next month. He went so far as to ban cell phones and arrange for players to stay in dorm rooms. [Starts his piece with an evocation of the monastic devotion of the coach and his boys.]

An enormous distraction, however, fell into Brewster's lap on Monday when junior cornerback Dominic Jones was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault after an investigation that also involves three of his teammates. (Prosecutors said defensive end Alex Daniels, cornerback Keith Massey — who is Dominic Jones' half-brother — and tailback E.J. Jones are still considered suspects in the case. They remain suspended from the team.)

News of Dominic Jones' involvement stunned people inside and/or close to the program because he has been a popular team leader since arriving on campus two years ago. [Doesn't matter how often this sort of thing happens on bigtime university sports teams -- it's always a stunner to the fans.]

Jones is viewed as a veteran leader inside the Gophers locker room, perhaps the team's best player on the field and a fan favorite. He earned the nickname "Ambassador" at Brookhaven High in Columbus, Ohio, and many of his current teammates view him in that same manner.

Jones, who was not arrested with the other three players when the allegations surfaced in April, was suspended from the football team Monday afternoon after being charged. It is a devastating blow to a program that had operated in a bubble of mostly positive news and rhetoric since Brewster came on board in mid-January.

Monday brought an entirely different feeling.

As always, we should remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty. We also should remember that there is a victim in this case, and presumably only a few people know exactly what happened in that campus apartment in early April. The facts of the criminal case should take precedence over anything related to football.

But Brewster faces a delicate and difficult situation as head coach before he has called his first play. He needs to show the public and his players a side of himself other than the smooth salesman.

Jones' alleged involvement in a sexual assault case — and the sordid details that emerged in the criminal complaint — is certain to hit the players and coaching staff hard. How could it not? It would be one thing to lose a popular player and standout performer to injury three weeks before the start of two-a-day practices. It's quite another to find out he has been charged with sexual assault.

Brewster must find a way to keep his team together emotionally while also acknowledging the seriousness of Jones' alleged crime, both internally and publicly. It won't be easy. [Writer attempts to turn a coach on whose watch this happened into a martyr.]

Fair or not, Brewster's program finds itself in an undesirable position. This is the kind of national attention schools desperately want to avoid. It affects everything, whether it's image, morale, recruiting or outside perceptions.

Rather than bask in unfettered optimism of a new season under a new coach, the Gophers will enter camp under a dark cloud and with serious on-field questions.

Jones was expected to be an All-Big Ten-caliber performer this season at cornerback and one of the nation's top kick and punt returners. At only 5-8, he is one of the most explosive and exciting kick returners in college football. He is a difference-maker on a team with very few of them.

Jones' absence means an already suspect secondary will have a gaping hole in it. Those issues will be addressed in time, though. Monday was not the day to consider any on-field consequences. [Um, didn't you just do that?]

There was too much shock inside the program to think that far ahead.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Huge Flat-Screen TVs in Every Room

Fine. UD has no television in her house, and therefore may have more difficulty than other people understanding why the admissions director at New York's Touro College so craved flat-screens that he ruined his life and the reputation of the college that employed him in order to have scads of them installed on his walls.

Fine. UD does not drive, and could give a sparrowfart about cars generally, and therefore may have more difficulty than other people understanding why this guy, Andrique Baron, also used the money for two luxury vehicles...

Whatever level of understanding UD can work up here, I suppose you want the details of this pretty sizeable conspiracy. Touro had lots of corrupt people in high positions on its staff.

NEW YORK (AP) - 'Teachers, students and administrators tampered with a private college's computer system to change grades and create fake degrees for money, prosecutors charged Monday. Among the fake degrees given were those for physicians' assistants, they said.

The 10 defendants created or altered records for at least 50 people since January [50 since January! This is, what, July? They're fast.], charging fees of $3,000 to $25,000 for better or deleted grades and for bachelor's and master's degrees, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

Those indicted include Touro College's former director of admissions, the former director of the school's computer center, three former Touro students and three public school teachers, Manhattan prosecutors said. [The public school teachers aren't former, I guess, because their union is going to defend them to the death.]

"One dangerous thing they did was give degrees to physicians' assistants," Morgenthau said.

Records found in the home of Andrique Baron, a former admissions director at Touro's campus in Manhattan, showed he was running the scheme as early as 2003 and possibly earlier, Morgenthau said. [So 50 this year, and many more before.]

"We don't know how many hundreds, maybe thousands, were involved," the district attorney said.

Baron's main accomplice was Michael Cherner, former director of the computer center at the school's Brooklyn campus, Morgenthau said.

Baron, 34, and Cherner, 50, also took bribes to create master's degree transcripts for three city schoolteachers who never attended Touro, said the district attorney. [Their salaries go up, remember, when they get advanced degrees.]

Money was collected from the teachers by a bagman identified in Baron's cell phone by the nickname Jimmy Bag, the district attorney said. [Clever.]

Touro spokeswoman Barbara Franklin said the college was aware of the investigation and has cooperated fully. Touro brought the wrongdoing to the attention of the district attorney's office, she said.

The scheme was "confined to what appears to have been a betrayal of trust by persons with responsibility for the integrity of the record-keeping," she said.

Touro has 23,300 students in 29 locations, mostly in New York, according to its Web site. The private Jewish college was founded in 1970.

Lawyers for Baron and Cherner did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment Monday.

Baron spent the cash on two luxury cars, high-end audio equipment and huge flat-screen television sets in almost every room in his home, Morgenthau said.

Six of the 10 defendants were arrested at various times from March to July on charges of computer trespass, computer tampering and falsifying business records. Baron, Cherner and the bag man also were charged with bribe receiving. All the charges are punishable by up to four years in prison.

Four of the 10 defendants are at large.'

UD thanks her sister for the link.
Amplification Effect Amplified

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education features my Liberal Education essay, on the web's amplification effect, in its Magazine and Journal Reader section.

UD's delighted.
Strong-Minded Editorial...

... in the St. Petersburg Times on the nasty but necessary battle between reformers of the wretched Florida public university system and a cynical legislature. The author summarizes current conditions:

'The student-faculty ratio is now the second worst in the nation, with some classes at the University of South Florida held in movie theaters. The instructional cost per degree is the lowest in the nation. Five of the 11 universities rank among the 30 largest in the nation.'
Simon Barnes, in the Times Online...

...talks about his university experience.

'... None of us was reading for marks. It was an adventure, and the tutors and professors were largely sympathetic to this attitude: I attended seminars on Dylan and Burroughs, which were no help at all for the degree. What mattered was being thrilled by literature, by great ideas and words, words, words. Turning me loose among all these books was like locking up a lush in a brewery.

It was a time when you could discover a new poet, meet a lifelong friend, fall in love and completely alter your world view, all within a single term; and then do it all again next term. I never, for one minute gave thought to what I would do to earn my living. Nor was this view peculiar to the English Department.

Education has changed course since then. Those poor young people at university nowadays send me their CVs and have five-year plans and targets and loans to pay. For them, education is about transforming themselves into an effective economic unit.

Education should be wild, exciting, intoxicating. Engineers, medics and lawyers must of necessity modify that view, but only to an extent. These days, more and more tertiary education establishments specialise in courses that look like a short-cut to a sexy job: you can study sport, or journalism, or television, or pop music, even fashion, for God’s sake. I imagine educationists sitting around a table: “Let’s have a course in sports journalism! They’ll love it! They’ll come flocking in! Brilliant idea! Carried unanimously.”

Then some awkward fellow asks: “Yes, but what are we actually going to teach them?” Ugly silence. “Ah, yes . . . now there you may have hit on the one snag in whole thing . . . but never mind, let’s go ahead and do it anyway.”

The error – the heresy – is to think that the entire purpose of education is to get you a better job: that the entire function of an individual life is to make as much money as possible. No one said to me, read Finnegans Wake and you’ll make a bloody fortune; that’s the whole point of reading the damn thing.

It’s a terrible shame, and I feel horribly sad for the people who must go through it all, carrying the burden of economic expectation rather then the spirit of exploration and adventure. We were all too busy trying to suss out the meaning of life to be sidetracked by such side-issues as careers, until the time came to meet reality head on. That hasn’t stopped a number of old university friends from being conspicuously successful.

The purpose of modern education is to make you a more wealthy person. But when I read English at Bristol, the idea was that you ended up a richer person.'

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Via Andrew Sullivan. Various people reflect on blogs, at The Wall Street Journal. From the introduction to their comments:

'The daily reading of virtually everyone under 40 -- and a fair few folk over that age -- now includes a blog or two, and this reflects as much the quality of today's bloggers as it does a techno-psychological revolution among readers of news and opinion.'

A couple of comments:

'I've come to appreciate the purity and power of blogging. I have appeared in more than 40 movies, written a book and given countless interviews on TV, radio and in print. Yet none of this has allowed me to spotlight issues important to me as completely as my blog.

I have blogged from some far-flung locations, such as the ravaged borders between Darfur and eastern Chad. And even in the most isolated regions, I knew that I was not alone. I had brought with me 30,000 readers a day, and they stuck with me every step of the way.

Via satellite phone, I sent messages from the outskirts of the newly attacked town of Paoua in remote northwestern Central African Republic. I found myself in the middle of a humanitarian catastrophe. Hundreds of people had fled into the bush. They were eating leaves and drinking swamp water. No one was there to protect them. "Drums and gunfire are the music of the night," I blogged. Neither the reader nor I could know what would happen next. That immediacy and urgency was transmitted to my family and friends back home, along with thousands of members of the larger human family.' [Mia Farrow]

'Of the various blogs I've written or produced, the ones that worked best -- the ones that had the biggest and most loyal readerships -- always had a few consistent qualities. They were topically focused, often in niche areas. They published regularly and frequently, typically during office hours and several times a day. They published content that was original or difficult to find, from breaking news to proprietary photographs to obscure links that readers are unlikely to find on their own. They were usually well-written, which has its own intrinsic appeal for anyone who prefers to enjoy what they're reading. And lastly, they engaged their readership by soliciting feedback and responding to it, in the form of asking for tips, allowing comments or otherwise demonstrating some level of interest in their audience's preferences.' [Elizabeth Spiers]
University Athletics Explained

"Athletics is the rallying point for any university. ...It's how we keep people involved. You're in the newspaper every week. You're on TV every week. You're marketing your city. You're marketing your university. Whatever you're selling, whether it's the polymer, biology or business school, students go where there's a big-time athletic program. That's why Ohio State has 60,000 and Harvard has 5,000. A lot of our very smart students get attracted because they see or read about your school."

Gene Carlisle, University of Southern Mississippi athletics donor.
Gird Your Loins...

...for another descent into Kilkenny. [Earlier subterranean expedition here.] An English professor at the University of Oregon gazes into the same abyss.

I just read Pat Kilkenny's June 11 guest viewpoint, "UO athletics serious about academics and financial self-sufficiency." As a teacher, I'm glad the University of Oregon's director of athletics sees his athletes as students first, but he shouldn't try to tell us that the business of intercollegiate athletics is for them.

Kilkenny is a businessman. He knows that football and basketball, where expenses now run in the hundreds of millions of dollars at the UO, aren't justified by the benefits they bring to the tiny percentage of our students who play ball. We're not plowing a quarter of a billion dollars into a new basketball arena for the players. No, sports is a business - and what's a business without profit and growth?

Kilkenny writes, "A new basketball arena would serve an important function in supporting the department's financial responsibilities. Fiscal sustainability would make us better prepared to serve the university by allowing us to further emphasize academics and to continue to pump money back into the university's budget."

I'm not sure what that means, but I do know the premise is wrong, because the athletic department pumps no money at all back into the university's budget. "Fiscal sustainability" here just means profit, every penny of which feeds the growth of the athletic department, not the university.

Now, suddenly, Kilkenny wants to add baseball, which means adding at least one women's sport, too. That'll take some money. Where will it come from?

Ah, that's where the arena comes in. I'm no businessman, but I have my doubts about this arena. By Kilkenny's own account, financial self-sufficiency "makes us vulnerable to severe financial consequences should the Ducks' gridiron successes falter. The athletic department must prepare itself for a financial rainy day."

In my world, when you're worried about money you don't go shopping for an even bigger mansion. How big a mortgage does Kilkenny expect the UO to sign for, anyway, to build this arena? I'm guessing at least $50 million in the end. That's a lot of money to borrow. We're already issuing bonds to buy the property, and for all Kilkenny's talk of "financial self-sufficiency," it's the university going into debt to buy it, not the athletic department.

And what a business it will be! Such schools as Ohio State have learned that a big arena can't break even on college sports. You have to book all kinds of entertainment in there: monster trucks, mud wrestling, you name it, whoever will pay - at least 40 events a year, Kilkenny told the City Club on June 6. There's nothing wrong with all this stuff as entertainment, of course, but how much sense does it make for higher education to get into that business?

And don't tell me we're doing it for the fans. They seem simply to adore Mac Court. I don't hear the fans clamoring for the most expensive college arena in the nation.

What I hear, rather, is the clamor of Big Money. Someone's going to make a lot of money off this project, but not the university. If the arena makes any business sense, the business it makes sense to is Nike, and the rest of the athletics industry. Education means nothing to them. They're in it for the money, and they'll be happy to see the UO and other universities go into debt so they can get rich off us. We're being played for suckers, and not for the first time. As a rule, everyone gets rich off college sports except the colleges that own the teams. Somehow, education always gets the short end of the stick.

Oh, and the football and basketball players? They're just the workers in this shell game. They're the ones who lose the most in the long run. They work so hard at being good athletes that very few of them get to be good students as well. We give them their 15 minutes of fame, and maybe a degree, and send them on their way. A tiny fraction (1 percent nationally) move on to professional sports.

I welcome Kilkenny to the university and its many paradoxes. Intercollegiate athletics may be a business, but I hope he remembers that the university isn't. It's a nonprofit, and a state agency. The mission statement Kilkenny praised in his column stresses critical thinking, clear communication, creativity and lifelong learning. It makes no mention of sports or entertainment.

It takes some creativity to see any relation at all between the university's educational mission and Kilkenny's extraordinary new athletic arena.

---ud thanks m for sending this along---
UD Gets Up to Date on Her Alma Mater

'Worried by the quality and anatomical accuracy of mannequins available for her students to practise on, Dr [Carla] Pugh [of Northwestern University] decided to take matters into her own hands and provide her own.

"One model that was available for teaching the students had the rectum in the wrong place, in another the prostate was in the wrong position.

"The penises that were available were made of styrofoam and they were all the same.

Secret motive

"So I decided to get my own," said the assistant professor of surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

"I had to go into porn shops and ask for lots of penises, all sizes, erect and not erect, circumcised and non-circumcised. I was met with gales of laughter in the shops."

She also frequents toy shops for materials, but admits she does not tell the shop assistants what she wants her weird collection of objects for.

"They would be really freaked if they knew I wanted the dolls to cut up," she laughed.

She also buys baby dolls for delivery models, squishy balls are used to represent ovarian masses and harder wooden balls for ovarian cancers.

"I think my students are clueless about what I have gone through to get the materials to teach them - but what students do know the work their teacher has done to prepare?"

Dr Pugh has also patented technology to combine portions of fully formed anatomical mannequins with computers to teach medical students to do exams on the body's most private and sensitive areas - genitalia, breasts and rectums.

At the prostate station students can examine several models of the male posterior.


In each they have a fully formed anus and rectum. There are paper-thin sensors inside to measure a student's touch and send individual readings to an attached computer monitor.

These are the sort of exams, she said, that students are often most worried about performing and which medical school instructors can also find embarrassing.

"We've got big issues in the US with sexuality," said Dr Pugh.

"These guys have to be able to do it and act professional, so that adds a lot of pressure."

Cadavers are still used for anatomy, but Dr Pugh said that, as in the UK, there has been a shortage of bodies being offered for donation.

But she added that even when these bodies were available, often they were not suitable for students to practice on.

"Many of the women who donate their bodies have had hysterectomies, so the students do not have a uterus to practise on," she said.

Natural sensation

She also added that practising on a rigid rigor mortis body was very different from the softer form of the live body that her students would encounter.

Dr Pugh said her simulators were not perfect, but that they were close enough to the reality for the students to know whether their touch is too rough, too soft - or if they have missed a key spot entirely.

They provided a much needed bridge, she said, between traditional medical training where students often go straight from textbook to exam room with live patients, where they observe skilled doctors in action.

"Guess what? They are sweating bullets because they haven't had a scenario where they can talk about it comfortably, safely and with someone who is more knowledgeable."

Dr Pugh began performing "surgery" on her dolls as a child, transplanting eyes and limbs with a sewing kit borrowed from her mother.

She said she had always maintained a hands-on approach to medicine.

But she felt very disappointed by how little 'real-life' practice she was able to do as a student herself.

"It frustrated me because I was unsure. I didn't have the level of access to the human body that I wanted."


She came up with the idea for her technology while working on a doctorate in education at Stanford University and obtained a patent for the sensors and data accumulation technology in 2001.

Pugh formed a licensing agreement with Medical Education Technologies Inc, a company specialising in medical training products, in early 2003.

Her pelvic exam simulators are already on the market at prices ranging from $16,000 (£8,200) to $20,000 (£10,300) each, and are used by more than 60 medical and nursing schools around the US.

The prostate exam simulators used in the class, as well as those for breast exams, are still in prototype form.'

---bbc news---

Saturday, July 14, 2007

This Guy Is SO Much Better At This Than I Am

'The University of Oklahoma was punished this week following revelations that a car dealership paid players for work they never did. C'mon, Boomer Sooners. Your standards are dropping. You can do better than that.

You once ran one of the grimiest, dirtiest, gun-toting, bootlegging, hooligan coddling, cash-under-the-table programs in the history of college football. Barry Switzer was your coach ("And We're Gonna' Do it Ba-By!"). That's about all you have to say.

You are among the standard bearers for lack of institutional control with your sexy five probations. You are improper benefits. You are improper recruiting. You are failure to monitor, improper inducements, improper entertaining, unethical conduct, improper lodging and any other improper you can think of. You are stop your grinnin' and drop your linen.

You are ... gats and strippers.

Now, you have been reduced to the pedantic by partnering with car dealers. Imagine that. A car dealer involved with wrongdoing.

You used to be automatic weapons, now you're time cards on a car lot. Shame on you, Oklahoma. You're cliché now.

(Although Car-Gate does explain why Bob Stoops was recently asking recruits if, instead of a scholarship, they would like an extended warranty.)

But here is the good news, Oklahoma. In the pantheon of great rules-bending, NCAA-infuriating, college football programs, you are not No. 1.

Imagine that, Oklahoma. There are bigger NCAA violators than you.

The following are the top rules-breaking college football programs of all time. While squeezing in just 10 is like fitting Barry Bonds' head into a key hole, I tried my best.

10. Colorado. Two names: Slick Rick Neuheisel and Gary "Who Me?" Barnett. Five major institutional NCAA infractions at Colorado, including two this decade, according to the NCAA. Numerous rape accusations against recruits and players. Very solid work, fellas, very solid work.

9. Florida State. Pains me to put them here because I think Bobby Bowden is one of the best human beings on the planet, but I can't skip over Free Shoes University.

8. Texas A&M. The state of Texas, football and rules violations go together like ham, egg and cheese. Might deserve a higher slot, but the Aggies' cheat-to-win ratio is low. In other words, it hasn't been money well spent.

7. Washington. There's that Neuheisel name again.

6. Miami (Fla.). This is an interesting one. In terms of total school major infractions (all sports), the mighty Hurricanes are tied at five with universities like Baylor, Mississippi State and the University of Texas-Pan American, and behind the University of Memphis and the Minnesota Golden Gophers (such a cute mascot for such blatant rules violators). Thus Miami loses some street cred. You cannot be but so much a bad ass when Texas-Pan American nearly out-cheats you.

But ah, the Hurricanes. They are like the Smokey Robinson of rules breakers. They might not be the all-time best but they make the most out of their opportunities.

5. SMU. An old-school classic. Received the death penalty. Harkens back to a time when the NCAA had testicles and did not pucker up to the derrières of fat-cat college presidents. Those were the days, when men were men and cheaters took great pride in their work. Cash payments distributed in a timely fashion, luxury cars handed out like heads of lettuce, players bought and paid for. Made you proud to be an American.

4. Arizona State. Never has so much rules breaking gotten a school so little. But they are creative out there in desert. One NCAA investigation found that a compliance officer allowed a football player to utilize her personal credit account for buying $900 worth of car equipment. She also opened a utility account for the player. I don't understand. Can't a brother get his electric bill paid?

3. Oklahoma. Boy, was that Barry Switzer fun.

2. Auburn. The SEC is to cheating what Superman is to comic book heroes. The best. Just about every school in the conference has a major infraction. The SEC boosters are so wealthy that spending $20,000 on a recruit is the equivalent of a martini lunch. Auburn earns a solid silver in the cheating Olympics.

1. Alabama. This is all you need to know about the skill and greatness of Alabama. An NCAA committee found that booster forked over $150,000 to a high school coach as a guarantee that a defensive lineman would attend Alabama. Yes -- $150,000. Now that is how you break the rules, people.

(So what does a great running back go for in the SEC? A small diamond mine?)

No payment of water bills. Just lots of cold, hard cash. Even an Auburn booster says: "You guys are my heroes, Alabama."

"Not bad," says Switzer.'

Mike Freeman, CBS, UD wants to be your girl.
The iFan vs. the NCAA

As Selena Roberts points out in tomorrow's New York Times, it's the iFan all the way. Excerpts:

The iFan, armed with a BlackBerry or an iPhone, a cellphone camera or a text message, is actually better equipped to be a caretaker of college athletics than the sleuths at the N.C.A.A., whose water guns and magnifying glasses leave them best suited to guard a tip jar.

Exactly when is the N.C.A.A.’s investigation of Reggie Bush’s luxury family digs while he was a star at the University of Southern California going to conclude?

The iFan, as an embedded member of the fight-song culture, can be considered more diligent in the oversight of a program than serially incurious university compliance officers who ignore the sudden appearance of Cadillac Escalades in the player parking lot.

Those earnest university officials don’t self-police, they self-protect. The disingenuousness of authority figures on campus leaves those searching for real answers to try an alternate route that, in essence, violates the core tenet of childhood: go ahead, trust a stranger.

An anonymous post on a bulletin board can possess as much veracity as the selective account of an athletic department curator.

...Not everyone in a chat room is such an impeccable source of information. But more and more, the message board has become a place where news isn’t made up, but made.

“It’s a paradigm shift in how information is disseminated,” [one board's administrator] said. “Our viewership continues to increase each year. People everywhere have become citizen reporters.”

Whistleblowers of the iFan crowd are now equipped to investigate what the N.C.A.A. can’t — or won’t.
The Bishop Plagiarizes

Yet another Irishman has had it with over-the-top, commercialized Bloomsday. I don't begrudge him, though I think he should give it a try next year.

He had something else to do that day anyway. He describes attending a wedding and finding that he couldn't escape Bloomsday even there:

Imagine then my surprise when the bishop who was officiating, the Right Reverend Simon Barrington-Ward, inquired at the beginning of his address whether we were all aware what day it was. He then proceeded to devote virtually the whole of his message to James Joyce and to Ulysses.

But the writer finds the sermon marvelous; the bishop returns the writer to a real understanding of the novel:

... [H]e went straight to the heart of the matter, which is love.

And the love he discovered in Joyce was entirely uplifting. I was inspired by the way he renewed the familiar story.

Despite the brothel scene, the infidelity of Molly, the sexuality of much of the stream of consciousness in the book, the reputation it has for what was thought of as 'filth' when it was first published in Paris and banned from entry into Britain, Joyce's message was about love in its fullest, richest and most life-enhancing sense.

I wanted Joycean academics -- they must be more numerous than those in any other discipline or studying any other writer -- to absorb the unexpected message from the bishop.

He had been travelling and reading and it was clear that he had absorbed the whole text sufficiently to preach from it, applying good sermon practice and describing himself as "being borne along not just by a stream, but by a positive River Liffey of consciousness, sweeping me off my mental feet until I was all but drowning."

But the bishop did not drown. He had his wits about him and travelled, first, into Stephen's mind when he is remembering the question he wanted to ask his mother, about "the Word known to all men", second to the National Library to hear the question, "What is the word known to all men?, thirdly, to Bloom's uncertain and gentle expression, in response to the appalling 'Citizen', of belief: "But it's no use. Force, hatred, history and all that. That's not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it's the very opposite of that that is really life." Someone intervenes, "What?" "Love," Bloom blurts out. "I mean the opposite of hatred." Embarrassed by what he has tried to put into words, Bloom leaves the public house.

These are utterances of the word known to all men, the word known to all the book and throughout the whole book, "love in its various forms, sexual, parental, filial, brotherly, and by extension social."

And on that basis a nuptial message of great power and single-minded purpose was delivered.

I thought of it as an epiphany, a point of change, a watershed, persuading me to think again about Joyce's power and purpose as a writer and not to let tourism, academic jargon, soulless analysis interfere with a message from the heart.

The writer wants Joycean academics to learn from the bishop, but it looks as though the bishop learned all too closely from the academics.

Not only is the phrase from the bishop's sermon that the writer quotes -- "love in its various forms, sexual, parental, filial, brotherly, and by extension social" -- taken verbatim from the best-known Joyce scholar of them all, Richard Ellmann; the bishop's entire argument about the centrality of love in Ulysses derives from Ellmann.

UD would ask the writer to read the following, written in 1986, and then reconsider his dismissal of academics:

If we consider the book as a whole, the theme of love will be seen to pervade it. "Love's bitter mystery," quoted repeatedly from Yeats's poem "Who Goes With Fergus?," is something Stephen remembers having sung to his mother on her deathbed. It is something that Buck Mulligan, though he is the first to quote the poem, cannot understand, being himself the spirit that always denies. It is alien also to the experience of the womanizer Blazes Boylan. But Bloom does understand it, and so does Molly Bloom, and both cherish moments of affection from their lives together as crucial points from which to judge later events.

Joyce is of course wary of stating distinctly - as Virgil does to Dante in The Divine Comedy - his conception of love as the omnipresent force in the universe. As a young man he had the greatest difficulty in telling Nora Barnacle that he loved her, and Molly Bloom, on the subject of Bloom's declaration of love during their courtship, remembers, "I had the devils own job to get it out of him." But allowing for the obliquity necessary to preserve the novel from didacticism or sentimentality, we perceive that the word known to the whole book is love in its various forms, sexual, parental, filial, brotherly and, by extension, social.

It is so glossed by Stephen, Bloom and Molly. At the end the characters, discombobulated in the brothel, return to their habitual identities. Ulysses revolts against history as hatred and violence, and speaks in its most intense moments of their opposite. It does so with the keenest sense of how love can degenerate into creamy dreaminess or into brutishness, can claim to be all soul or all body, when only in the union of both can it truly exist.

Like other comedies, Ulysses ends in a vision of reconciliation rather than of sundering. Affection between human beings, however transitory, however qualified, is the closest we can come to paradise. That it loses its force does not invalidate it. Dante says that Adam and Eve's paradise lasted only six hours, and Proust reminds us that the only true paradise is the one we have lost. But the word known to all men has been defined and affirmed, regardless of whether or not it is subject to diminution.

Friday, July 13, 2007


'Goats will be doing yard work at the University of Washington's Bothell campus this week.

The university is bringing in the animals as an environmentally friendly way to control weeds. It joins Seattle City Light and King County in the use of goats to remove weeds without pesticides or the use of fuel-powered equipment.

Goats from Vashon-based Rent-A-Ruminant will be on campus this week. Other goats from Edwall-based Healing Hooves will come to campus later this summer. The university said it is considering housing its own goats full time.'

---seattle post-intelligencer---
Sometimes Scathing Online Schoolmarm...

...just has to scratch her head. Guys! The way guys write! The way guys write about university sports!

Penn State's Number Two in the current Fulmer Cup rankings, which track the most criminal bigtime university sports teams in the country. It's got real problems. But when you just love those lunks, here's how you describe the situation.

The only Heisman Trophy winner in Penn State history was never consigned by his coach to spending a Sunday morning crawling across the clammy, sticky concrete of Beaver Stadium, collecting hot dog wrappers and empty Cheese Whiz cups. [In response to a variety of serious offenses on the part of his players, the Penn State coach had them pick trash up at the stadium one day. Let the punishment fit the crime and all... The writer's first sentence, while jammed with all the vivid detail your writing teacher tells you to jam into your sentences, is a bit overwhelming. The coupling of "only" and "never" at the beginning of the sentence is confusing. And the writer's effort to make a trash clean-up sound like years in a gulag looks unpromising.] If Joe Paterno ever punished John Cappelletti and those Nittany Lions of the early 1970s the way he has his current players, putting all of them on trash detail to pay for the alleged offenses of some of them, Cappelletti doesn't remember it. [Note "alleged." Nothing alleged about them. And for "some," write "lots." That's the only way you get to the top of the Fulmer.]

“Then again,” Cappelletti, the 1973 Heisman trophy winner said by telephone the other day, “we may not have had the same problems that he's experienced now.”

The problem was an off-campus brawl in the spring at which at least 15 Penn State football players were present and six were arrested. The university ultimately disciplined 10 players last month, placing four on year-long probation and two on permanent probation and temporarily expelling safety Anthony Scirrotto, defensive lineman Chris Baker, linebacker Jerome Hayes and cornerback Lydell Sargeant.

Those expulsions can end in time for the fall semester and for the four to play in Penn State's season opener against Florida International on Sept. 1 [whew!], but Paterno had beaten the university's judicial affairs system to the punch. He announced his team-wide cleanup detail in May, igniting accusations that he was attempting to subvert the school's investigation. [Coach's punch starts a fire.... Yeah, I know, don't go there... It's sports writing...]

“What Joe does to run the program, what he decides,” Cappelletti said, “is still his call.”

Scheduled to appear at Northampton Country Club in Richboro on July 22 for the Louis P. Merlano Scholarship Classic, Cappelletti, 54, doesn't get back to the East Coast much, maybe three weeks a year. He lives in Laguna Niguel, Calif., now and talks to Paterno only occasionally, but even from that distance, he can see that Paterno's handling of the situation hasn't been all that surprising.

“If coaches don't feel they're getting the most of you, they may have to do something to jump-start you,” Cappelletti said. “It may not be things you want to hear, just like when you're growing up and you hear things from your parents about curfew. But for me to be the best son I could be, my parents had to be tough. And for me to be the best player I could be, Joe had to be tough. If not, what value other than Xs and Os was he bringing to the program?”

It's easy to suggest that, at 80, Paterno is out of touch with today's elite athletes and their parents, that no kid who expects a football coach to smooch his tuchas would choose to play for a crotchety old-timer who might have his entire secondary standing in the center of a 107,282-seat stadium with Hefty bags in their hands. [No comment.] Surely, there are opposing coaches who already have tried to use Paterno's punishment against him in their daily recruiting skirmishes, and maybe that strategy (“You don't want to be picking ... up ... trash ... do you?”) works sometimes. It also sends a terrible message: that at certain programs, an athlete can check his personal accountability at the door. [Penn State - uncompromising in its punishment of misdeeds.]

Remember, too: A university's judicial affairs system is no more bound by due process than a coach's conscience is, and a few recent, high-profile cases have proven that agendas and biases aren't the sole provinces of coaches and big-time boosters.

In 2002, after Penn State's judicial affairs body had expelled defensive back Anwar Phillips for two semesters on accusations of sexual assault, the university's president, Graham Spanier, publicly chastised Paterno for suiting up Phillips in a bowl game, only to look foolish when Phillips was easily acquitted of all charges in Center County court. And if the Duke lacrosse scandal didn't reveal that college administrations and faculties aren't necessarily strongholds of integrity and justice, nothing does.

This doesn't make Paterno infallible — just a man with a measure of integrity, which these days is enough to stand out among the sinners. [John Wayne talk.]

“I'm not sure that there's not a lot of parents who wouldn't see that as a value,” said Cappelletti, a father of four. “If you're not a parent or don't have young adult kids, you may not understand this. At some point, someone taking action like that can be very refreshing. Some parents and athletes going into the process may say, "I'm not going to play for a guy who makes me pick up trash.' But I think the kids realize they did something wrong. [SOS loves it when coaches call the lads kids.]

“It's as much a part of life as it is anything with football. It might be a little embarrassing to a point, but they'll never do something like this again.”

If they do, their punishment will again be Joe Paterno's call. His program, his decision. Always. [Choke. Blubber.]

(PS: One sportswriter lists ten things he's looking forward to this college football season. Number 3 is

'Seeing the Gameday piece on Penn State football players cleaning Beaver Stadium and then having Desmond Howard sit down with select players and ask, "So, do you think you'll ever home-invade again?"')


Firebombing Inappropriate

'William "Billy" Cottrell was such an exceptional student at the University of Chicago that he was described by his professors as something of an eccentric genius. He even won the award for best senior thesis in physics, addressing string theory, which seeks a single unifying way to explain all forces and all forms of matter.

Today the 27-year-old is in jail.

Two years after his 2002 graduation with honors as a double major in physics and math, Cottrell was charged and convicted as one of the nation's first ecoterrorists of the post-Sept. 11 era. He was found guilty of conspiracy and arson in the 2003 firebombings of Hummer and other sport-utility vehicle dealerships in the Los Angeles area to advocate a radical environmentalism. Two conspirators remain at large.

Cottrell is appealing his conviction. One mitigating factor, his supporters argue, is that he is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, which can make his behavior at times inappropriate.'

---chicago tribune---

Thursday, July 12, 2007

UD's 'thesdan Playmate, David...

...sends her this amazing university story. I'm excerpting from an article in The Independent:

Until this week, [Shin Jeong-ah], 35, was at the top of her profession. Claiming to have a doctorate from Yale and a master's degree from Kansas University, she was the youngest professor at Seoul's prestigious Dongguk University and the head curator of the Sungkok Art Museum, home to some of Korea's most prestigious exhibitions and the recipient of millions of pounds in corporate sponsorship from the country's biggest conglomerates.

... Shin's latest exhibition was a glitzy affair featuring the American artist William Wegman. This week she was named co-curator of the 2008 Gwangju Biennale, one of the biggest fine art events in South-east Asia - she would have been the biennale's youngest curator. In a country that takes art seriously, and has an exceptionally large number of museums for its size, many saw Shin's appointment as a sign that the young curator was destined to become the leading figure among Korea's legion of art gallery administrators.

But others were less impressed. Academia and the art world have always been prey to petty jealousies, and Shin became the subject of a rumour mill that spread gossip about her qualifications. On Monday rumour became fact when the University of Kansas issued a statement saying Shin had attended classes there between 1992 and 1996 but had never graduated.

Officials at the Gwanju Biennale initially supported her. They produced a document backing her claims to have a Yale doctorate - a faxed response from the Connecticut-based school to an inquiry by Dongguk University in September 2005.

The fax purported to be from Pamela Schirmeister, an associate dean of Yale's Graduate School. It states that Shin entered Yale's art history department in August 1996 and graduated in May 2005 with a doctoral degree in art. Dongguk said on Wednesday this week that Yale had agreed to look into the fax.

In a telephone interview with Seoul's Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper on Tuesday, Shin said, "I certainly did receive a degree from Yale, which is proven by the document Dongguk received from Yale in 2005. I will make a statement and take legal action as soon as I return to Seoul."

But the firestorm consuming her career intensified when Yale issued a terse statement yesterday stating that Shin did not graduate with a doctorate in 2005, as she had claimed, and had, in fact, never been registered with the university at all.

It was also disclosed that the dissertation Shin submitted to Dongguk University, a study of the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, had been stolen from another academic. The thesis is almost identical to a work which was originally published by the Greek scholar Ekaterini Samaltanou-Tsiakma in 1981. The Gwanju Biennale committee immediately cancelled Shin's appointment.

Shin, who is currently in Paris but plans to return to Seoul today, has yet to comment on Yale's emphatic denunciation of her alleged credentials. In Korea she faces a lengthy prison sentence for fraud and Dongguk University and the Gwanju Biennale have said they plan to seek legal sanctions against the young woman they once saw as their most precocious star.

... "The reason she had this amazing career is that she was very polite," said the director of a large private museum. "She took great care of the older generation of artists. This was a strategy for her. She charmed the old guys and they loved her and supported her career."

... Dongguk's checks of Shin's claims to have three degrees were cursory at best. They received no reply from Kansas in 2005 and only a fax, now disputed, from Yale. Some are not surprised that Shin was able to slip through the cracks.

"Talented people with an advanced degree from a prestigious international university are rare in Korea," said an art critic at a leading art magazine in Seoul. "That made it easy for her package to be accepted. People wanted to believe that she was for real."

For a society where women are still expected to know their place, Shin also had the benefit of being different. "She is a very extroverted character and she was very talented at self-promotion," the director of a museum in southern Seoul said. "That's what started the rumours about her qualifications. She was just too good at pushing herself forward."

The world will have to wait for Shin's own explanation of her Ripleyesque fraud but the answer may lie in the midst of one of Korea's worst disasters, the 29 June 1995 collapse of the Sampoong department store in Seoul, which killed 501 and injured 937.

Shin was in the store that day and came close to death. Aged 24, she was crushed beneath the collapsed building and was trapped for more than 24 hours. She suffered multiple fractures and intestinal injuries.

"A beach towel wrapped itself around my face and saved it from harm," Shin told the Chosun Ilbo a few years after the disaster, when her rarefied career in the art world was just beginning to take-off. "Because my face was OK, I have my second life and I'm very lucky. Everything is very easy for me. Before the disaster I was a very introverted character. Now I am aggressive. After surviving Sampoong I developed a very powerful driving force and sense of initiative."

A driving force that, apparently, led her to invent a luminous academic career which was nothing short of a fantasy. Consequently Shin finds herself buried again, this time beneath the rubble of her own fanciful dreams and aspirations. [Most of the writing in this article is okay, but this sentence is too Tennessee Williams for UD.] The difference is that she is likely to be trapped by the debris of her lies for much longer than 24 hours. In the Chosun Ilbo interview Shin was described as a "phoenix, who rose from the ashes". Now she has been unmasked as a fraud whose career has gone up in flames. Given the unforgiving nature of Korean society, it's unlikely she will rise again.

Quite a tale. Couple of comments.

This is an especially destructive case of fraudulence because this woman has not only destroyed her own life, but damaged professional prospects for Korean women generally.

Note that she's a plagiarist as well. We've seen again and again on this blog that people sleazy enough to do X almost always turn out to be sleazy enough to do Y.

Oh, and one other thing. If she opts to try the American approach to her problems (see James Frey), she'll use that Sampoong collapse for all it's worth. Brain trauma.
Lucky Jane... a charming new blog, written by an assistant professor of English at Jumbo Public University.
Writing and Nothingness

"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back at you," wrote Nietzsche.

Here, for the first time on University Diaries, we present a piece of writing which is that abyss, that very abyss, gazing back at you.

This writing is acquainted with the night. It is the music of the night, the dark night of the soul, the night thoughts of a classical physicist. It is the place Iris Murdoch, describing her descent into Alzheimer's, called a "very, very bad quiet place, a dark place..."

Some readers, unwilling to descend, will stop reading this writing -- gaze at it too long, as Nietzsche presciently saw, and the abyss will confront you. But I ask you to join me as I gaze at this nothingness. There is much to learn.

The writing concerns the athletic program at the University of Oregon, overseen by President Dave Frohnmayer, who suffers from Stage III-Jocksniffery.

Here, culled from two earlier writers on the subject, are some facts you first need to know.


The current price for a new University of Oregon basketball arena is $213.5 million, a significant increase over the recent estimate of $160 million.

[T]he hire [of new athletic director Pat Kilkenny] was driven by only one agenda - to build the arena. The position description is unusual: It doesn't list even the most standard academic qualifications for the job, although the person hired is expected to "function as a senior official of the university."

The administration has defended Kilkenny's lack of a university degree by citing the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and Purdue University as places where "boosters" have been hired as athletic directors. The comparison is spurious. All three have college degrees and cannot be characterized as "boosters" in the vein of Kilkenny. Prior to becoming athletic directors, Barry Alvarez was Wisconsin's head football coach and Michigan's Bill Martin was a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and taught courses at Michigan.

The pressure to raise funds for the arena has caused the UO to issue other problematic statements. [President] Frohnmayer and others have argued that since the arena and [fired AD] Moos' buyout are donor-financed, academics are unaffected by the cost of these ventures.

This is fanciful. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of Westmoreland student housing is being diverted to purchase property that may eventually play some role in the arena project. That even a penny of this money could go for athletics is hurtful to the UO's academic mission, which for years has struggled with frightfully strained conditions: For lack of space, music students have had to practice in bathrooms. Departments have had to convert not only bathrooms but also storage closets into faculty offices.

The earmarking of Westmoreland money for possible use on the arena makes everyone stakeholders in the project. This arena venture should not, therefore, be allowed to stay in the hands of two or three UO administrators and a couple of donors.

Frohnmayer wrote in The Register-Guard this year, "We take great pride in such measures of our academic success as the graduation rates of our student-athletes. Those rates have risen steadily in recent years. ..."

What kind of snow job is this? The NCAA's findings indicate that the graduation rate of UO athletes has fallen from 79 percent to 47 percent in five years. Obvious strategies for boosting academic performance, such as making sure all students attend classes and have time to focus on exams, are routinely ignored. This year we saw an increase in the number of football games, and we have again scheduled a Civil War game during final exams - despite a University Senate resolution against this practice. The culprit is, of course, the vast sums required to finance UO's sports machine.


The recent announcements of a $2 million buyout of the contract of Bill Moos, the university's athletic director, and a $4 million learning center solely for athletes are deeply troubling. ...[W]e find it increasingly hard to tell whether the University of Oregon is an academic research and teaching institution devoted to the education of our state's students, or a minor league training ground for elite athletes. Academic departments struggle to make ends meet because of repeated budget cuts, but the president allows lavish spending by the athletic department. These actions have consequences for our students and faculty, and the university's academic stature.

The hard numbers:

The primary losers are our students. The university provides scholarships to several hundred student-athletes, many of whom do not meet admission requirements, yet we cannot find sufficient financial aid to help Oregon's neediest high school students. The athletic department spent more than $1 million from 2003 to 2005 on recruiting, including $140,000 for a single weekend for 25 football recruits. The same $1 million would pay for 62 talented biology, journalism or art students to attend the university for a year, or 15 students for four years.

Students are affected by poor resource allocation in other ways. Class sizes have grown since 2000 because of a 20 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment, without an equivalent increase in full-time faculty. Students are closed out of classes because there are not enough faculty to teach them. Graduate students, the life-blood of a research university, have dropped by 10 percent since 1970. Instead of hiring new faculty and attracting new graduate students, the university has devoted scarce resources to boosting the number of athletic coaches and staff by 25 percent since 1994.

...The Biology Department today has 20 percent fewer office staff than in 1997, but 20 percent more students. Since 1994 its annual budget has increased by 47 percent, from $2.7 million to $3.96 million, while the athletic department's increased by 224 percent, from $18.5 million to $41.5 million. The average cost to teach a student in the biology department this year is $705; the cost per student-athlete in the athletic department is over $92,000. The head coaches of football and men's basketball together make more than all 30 full-time tenure-track biology professors.

Faculty salaries at UO are the lowest in the American Association of Universities. Ancillary support services for teaching and research are fast disappearing. New and current faculty members are being lured away by other institutions. Many faculty now pay for classroom photocopying, business phone calls, and even students' books. Meanwhile, the athletic department furnishes its offices with leather sofas, pays its coaches multimillion dollar salaries, charters private jets, etc.

Our academic reputation is declining. UO's 2004 four- and five-year graduation rates, at 36.4 percent and 56.7 percent respectively, are significantly below our academic peers and near the bottom of the Pacific-10 Conference. Oregon is the only Pac-10 school to be recently downgraded by the Carnegie Trust from the top to the second tier of national research universities. The 2007 US News and World Report college ratings rank us 120th in the country, the best among Oregon public universities but still mediocre. Our overall graduate program ratings are lower than 20 years ago. It is worse than ironic that our academic rankings are dropping as our football rankings rise.

The over-emphasis on athletics extends even to fundraising. The university's $600 million capital campaign is on target to raise $200 million for athletics (not including possible donations for the planned basketball arena). The Oregonian reports that this percentage for sports in a capital campaign is the highest in the nation -- in fact, more than double the national norm. The university has a responsibility to ask donors to support academics first, before donating to athletics.

Many people think athletics makes money for the university, but that is not true. At Notre Dame and Ohio State, the athletic departments gives back more than $10 million every year to education -- but at UO, not a penny. A few years ago the faculty asked the athletic department to add a mere 25 cents to football and basketball tickets, to be earmarked for student scholarships. They refused. We asked that a small percentage of every donation to athletics be earmarked for education. The administration refused. All athletic revenues and gifts go entirely to the athletic budget, which has been growing four times faster than the university's.

Pat Kilkenny, the local moneybags hired to push more university-destroying athletic projects through at the impoverished University of Oregon, is the author of what we are now going to make our way through. Pat Kilkenny is our guide to the underworld. This way, please.

UO athletics serious about academics and financial self-sufficiency

In February, on my first day as athletic director at the University of Oregon, my wife, Stephanie, and I attended a ceremony honoring the first 20 recipients of the UO's Faculty Excellence Awards. The event underscored for us the qualities of an outstanding and dedicated faculty.

As the professors were recognized for their scholarly pursuits, we felt the same pride and thrill that we have experienced many times at athletic events. Stephanie and I, as well as everyone in the athletic department, are proud to be part of the UO team, a team made up of not only world-class teachers, researchers and students, but also top-notch coaches and student athletes. [Beginning to get a chill?]

We cherish the chance to work with such dedicated individuals as part of the universitywide mission to mold global citizens who "question critically, think logically, communicate clearly, act creatively and live ethically." As we shape the future of UO athletics, the university mission statement, which calls on faculty and staff to provide students with a framework for lifelong learning, is an essential guidepost. Our vision for the future is one in which the UO athletic department plays an important role in the collaborative effort to maintain and enhance the UO's place as one of the best institutions of higher learning in the country and perhaps the finest public university in the West. [Don't look down! Keep going!]

With that in mind, there are a couple of important points we would like to share about UO athletics.

• Our athletes are students first, and like all other parts of the institution, our goal in athletics is to ensure they receive the best possible experience academically as well as athletically. Our faculty and coaches provide challenging and engaging work, which develops the students not only as athletes but as complete citizens. [Eyes front! Forward!]

Of course, we would like our teams to be successful in the Pac 10 Conference and on a national stage, bringing home championship banners in all sports. Our most important objective, however, is ensuring that as many of our student athletes as possible don robes and mortarboards at commencement.

As we celebrate our academic successes - and there are many - we are also mindful that some athletes are not meeting expectations. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to ensure that all of our student athletes find success in a rigorous academic setting.

• Few words in academia are as popular today as "sustainability." The UO campus is home to cutting-edge experts searching for innovative ways to incorporate principles of sustainability into fields such as architecture, urban design and chemistry. Even in athletics, the UO strives for sustainability - fiscal sustainability.

The UO has one of only 17 self-supporting athletic departments in the country. That means we receive no funding from the state or the university general funds. [Don't stop to argue! Move!] UO athletics depend in large part on football revenue from television contracts, nonconference and postseason games, as well as gifts and gate receipts. While admirable, that dependence does, in fact, make us vulnerable to severe fiscal consequences should the Ducks' gridiron successes falter. Placing such a fiscal burden on the shoulders of committed coaches and student athletes is unfair.

While Duck fans take pride in repeating, "It never rains at Autzen Stadium," the athletic department must prepare itself for a financial rainy day by becoming a self-sustaining department, guaranteeing our financial independence for generations to come. This would ensure that UO athletics prosper for decades without subsidies from the state or university.

A new basketball arena would serve an important function in supporting the department's financial responsibilities. [How? How? How? you keep asking.... Shut up!] Fiscal sustainability would make us better prepared to serve the university by allowing us to further emphasize academics and to continue to pump money back into the university's budget.

I want to make it clear that as athletic director I am committed to making sure every decision I make is in keeping with the UO mission. The importance of keeping athletics in step with academics was never as clear to me as it was back on my first day, at the ceremony for the Faculty Excellence Awards. That day, Stephanie and I were inspired by faculty members' commitments to teaching and visionary research.

In my mind, the ceremony laid down a gauntlet, a personal challenge for me to rise to the level of excellence attained routinely by UO faculty and staff. As I strive for that goal, I continue to feel pride and excitement just being part of the University of Oregon team. [You made it! You've gazed unflinchingly at the prose void... It's time to shake yourself off and return to the light...]
Nouveau Riche University

'On August 3 and 4 Nouveau Riche University (NRU) comes to Ft. Lauderdale not to teach the tricks of the trade of real estate investing, but rather the trade.

At the Westin Fort Lauderdale Hotel, an expected crowd of over 200 novices to seasoned real estate investors from around Florida will be gathering for a 2-Day Intensive taught by Nouveau Riche University (NRU) instructors and faculty members.

NRU, located in Scottsdale, AZ, is a real estate investment education company. Its pledge is, "We don't just teach real-estate-investing ... we create Real Estate Investors."'

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hard and Soft

Recall the opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed about how business school courses in ethics are a laughingstock. An article in today's International Herald Tribune describes the larger amoral free market reality on campus. Excerpts:

...[I]n recent months, economists have engaged in an impassioned debate over the way their specialty is taught in universities around the United States... They are questioning the profession's most cherished ideas about not interfering in the economy.

"There is much too much ideology," said Alan Blinder, a professor at Princeton and a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Economics, he added, is "often a triumph of theory over fact."

Blinder helped kindle the discussion by publicly warning in speeches and articles this year that as many as 30 million to 40 million Americans could lose their jobs to lower-paid workers abroad.

Just by raising doubts about the unmitigated benefits of free trade, he made headlines and had colleagues rubbing their eyes in astonishment.

"What I've learned is anyone who says anything even obliquely that sounds hostile to free trade is treated as an apostate," Blinder said.

And free trade is not the only sacred subject, Blinder and other like-minded economists say. Most efforts to intervene in the markets - like setting a minimum wage, instituting industrial policy or regulating prices - are viewed askance by mainstream economists, as are analyses that do not rely on mathematical modeling.

That attitude, the critics argue, has seriously harmed the discipline, suppressing original, creative thinking and distorting policy debates.

"You lose your ticket as a certified economist if you don't say any kind of price regulation is bad and free trade is good," said David Card, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has done groundbreaking research on the effect of the minimum wage.

...[A]s issues like income inequality, free trade and protectionism have become part of the presidential candidates' stump speeches, more thinkers have joined the debate.

... Part of the reason is the growing income inequality and dislocation that global markets and a revolution in communications have helped create.

... Meanwhile, critics have also pointed out the limits of standard cost-benefit accounting to measure items like the cost of inequality or damage to the ecosystem.

...[T]he increasing popularity in the mainstream of behavioral economics, which looks at people's complex psychological reactions to events, has offered a fuller picture of how consumers operate in the marketplace.

...[Some take] the discipline to task for relying on abstract theories and mathematical modeling instead of observation and sociological analysis.

... Heterodox economists complain that they are almost completely shut out by their more influential neoclassical colleagues who dominate most American university departments and prestigious peer-reviewed journals that are essential to gaining tenure...

This is essentially a battle between relentlessly hard thinkers for whom morality, psychology, human complexity, and, well, humans themselves represent hopelessly soft targets of thought, and thinkers these toughies regard as mush-brains who want to sit around talking about feelings.

Some version of this battle is hard-wired into all universities' curricula. Listen to any empirical scientist talk candidly about sociology...

But in this case the heterodox faction is correct that university economics, having become fixated on modeling and free trade, diverts serious attention away from on-the-ground realities.
Who Says Adjunct Professors
Have No Influence?

'A former USC real estate professor, who ran an investment scam luring students and others with bogus claims of large returns in commercial developments, was sentenced to six years in federal prison, authorities said Tuesday.

Barry Landreth, 38, a Fullerton resident, has been ordered to surrender to custody by July 30.

He pleaded guilty in March to using his influence as an adjunct professor to persuade several students and others to invest large sums of money in purported real estate projects in Chicago and Las Vegas with promised returns of 190% within 30 to 45 days. Instead of investing the money, however, he used it, among other things, to buy a Cadillac Escalade.

A hearing has been set for Aug. 20 to determine the amount of restitution Landreth owes.'

Background on Barry here.


Update: In giving Landreth a harsh sentence, the judge said "he was convinced that Landreth's connection with the university facilitated the scheme." UD made this point about Landreth and other campus scammers last year in talking about his case: If you want to rip people off, get yourself a university teaching position. People think professors are more ethical than the general population -- less obviously interested in the profit motive or something.

This might be true about your Latin instructor. Beware the business school.

Barry's remorse was eloquent:

'Landreth told Carney he has "an incredibly heavy heart for my actions." Turning to victims in the courtroom, he said, "I know you guys hate me at this moment. I really hope that at some point you will accept my apologies. I'm 100 percent committed to make each one of you whole."'

This language makes UD very jolly. She's not sure why. I mean, she's giggling right now, reading it over.

Let me say it out loud and see what happens....

I laughed again!

100 percent committed to make each of you whole!

UD thanks a reader, SC, who provided this material in the comments thread.
Defronked Rehired

Yes John, I've stolen your headline. You cleverly titled the email in which you, a UD reader at the University of Toledo, forwarded me this newspaper article, Defronked Rehired. I can't improve on that. Thank you.

For background, go here.

Excerpts from the Toledo Blade's update of this fast-moving story (When will the richly compensated corrupt AD be fired, and his salary shifted to Fronk? Will Fronk sue even if she takes her job back?) follow:

Days before she was to sue the University of Toledo for firing her, a former high-ranking member of UT’s athletic department learned she was going to get her job back.

Suzette Fronk, UT’s former assistant athletic director for business affairs, was told yesterday by her lawyer, Kevin Greenfield, that university President Lloyd Jacobs intends to reinstate her.

...Rick Stansley, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, told The Blade that he was made aware of Dr. Jacobs’ initiative yesterday.

“I’m happy about the fact that we have an administration that can look at what’s happening, determine if it’s right or wrong, and make an adjustment,” Mr. Stansley said. [Hail Mary Pass, Desperation Move, Last-Minute Ass-Save... There are better words than adjustment.]

Ms. Fronk was notified in a letter from the university’s human resources department May 15 that her job was being eliminated as a “result of the reorganization related to the merger of the University of Toledo and Medical University of Ohio.”

But last week, The Blade obtained an e-mail written by UT Athletic Director Mike O’Brien that stated he “eliminated” Ms. Fronk’s position and that she was the “ultimate disgruntled employee.”

“I had to eliminate her role as she was a tremendous blow to our morale; among other things,” Mr. O’Brien wrote to Blade Vice President and General Manager Joseph H. Zerbey IV. Reporters obtained the e-mail through a public records request and not from Mr. Zerbey.

Mr. Greenfield said the UT lawyer told him Dr. Jacobs plans to rescind the termination letter given to Ms. Fronk on May 15.

Her accusations of improper spending and other financial practices within the athletic department led to investigations by the university and The Blade into UT athletics. [That certainly can be a blow to morale.]

Dr. Jacobs and other university officials originally told The Blade Ms. Fronk’s job was eliminated and her duties would be moved to UT’s finance department.

... Reached by phone yesterday while traveling out of town, Ms. Fronk said she’s looking forward to discussing her return to UT with Dr. Jacobs.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Fronk said when asked if she’d consider accepting Dr. Jacobs’ offer. “I’ve always enjoyed working for the university. … In light of some poor decisions made in the past, they decided to rectify them in a positive way.”

Ms. Fronk was going to sue UT because she believed she was fired for doing her job. According to Ms. Fronk’s hiring notice from 2001, she was charged with “assisting the athletic director with financial planning [including revenue and cost projections]; providing budget control, and managing transaction-processing functions.”

University records obtained by The Blade show that Ms. Fronk faced resistance from Mr. O’Brien and other UT athletics staff members over the last two years when she raised questions about spending, travel, and other financial practices within the department as its projected budget deficit grew to as much as $2 million. Last week, UT officials said the athletics deficit would top out at around $1 million this year.

...[Fronk's lawyer] said the university will determine if Ms. Fronk’s base salary of $65,000 is too low, based on concerns that her pay was less than what other athletics administrators were making with similar levels of experience and responsibility. [Whatever you say, Ms Fronk!]

Ms. Fronk’s lawyer said Dr. Jacobs’ initiative does not constitute a settlement with his client.

“We can certainly explore legal options and we hope to discuss a financial resolution to this problem,” Mr. Greenfield said. [She's going to cost them big. So's getting rid of the AD. Watch that deficit grow.]

Perhaps the most stunning component of Dr. Jacobs’ intent to reinstate Ms. Fronk is that the move will again place her in the same work environment with Mr. O’Brien.

... Unless something changes, Mr. O’Brien will be working with — and supervising — Ms. Fronk, who appears to have the UT president’s direct support. [Awkward.]

When asked if Dr. Jacobs is planning to fire Mr. O’Brien, or if Mr. O’Brien is expected to resign, Mr. Klinger said, “It’s my understanding that Mr. O’Brien’s status is not expected to change.”

According to university documents, Mr. O’Brien’s contract expires June 30, 2008.

His base salary this year is $160,199.

Last month Dr. Jacobs ordered structural changes within the athletic department, some of which were because of questions Ms. Fronk raised and the ongoing federal probe into a point-shaving scheme involving UT football and basketball players. [Classic archetypes battling it out here... The bad boy and his larcenous ways ... The good girl who actually takes her job seriously ... But the plot outcome's all messed up. She should be out on her ass... almost was... until she remembered that America has a legal system...]
Fat Men Are One Thing.
Stupid Are Another.

Type TCF STADIUM into the Search feature up there and enjoy a full plate of UD posts over a couple of years about the University of Minnesota's fiasco. (Here's a sample.)

And all because men are dumb. They get way excited about big ol' sports stadiums for their universities, and only after spending hundreds of millions of dollars realize that they can't afford them.

Six months after detailed drawings were released and a new football coach was hired, the University of Minnesota is learning that raising money for a new football stadium has many good days -- and some that are not as good.

"I think Joel Maturi kind of naively thought that there might be, you know, a little bit more success in the corporate world from a philanthropic standpoint," Maturi, the university's athletic director, said as he sat in his office. "We're not giving up." [Sadder but wiser Joel refers to his earlier incarnation in the third person. He's worked out his naivete thing, and UD's happy for him. Now he needs to think in bigger terms -- about how he fucked up an entire university.]

As the university tries to build more enthusiasm for the new $288.5 million facility with a groundbreaking ceremony today, there are ample signs of fundraising success: The campaign has $51 million in gifts, including 17 gifts of at least $1 million and another $9.2 million in pledges.

University officials are also confident that many ordinary Minnesotans will donate money when a grass-roots fundraising drive begins next year.

But the big corporate hitters -- other than TCF Bank, whose stadium naming rights agreement is valued at $21 million -- have been harder to sign. Of the gifts of $1 million or more through the end of May, just three came from large corporations -- Best Buy, Target and General Mills. And in the three months following the release of the stadium's design and the hiring of head coach Tim Brewster, according to university records, there were no additional donors in the coveted $1 million bracket and just three new in the $100,000-and-above category.

For those closely involved, the fundraising drive so far has been a lesson in what is possible -- and what is not. The university can only look with envy at places such as Oklahoma State University, where financier T. Boone Pickens pledged $165 million to athletics last year, and at Ohio State University, which completed a $200 million renovation of its landmark 105,000-seat football stadium. [Imagine looking at schools like these with envy. Unlike them, the University of Minnesota used to be intellectually distinguished. People like Joel are seeing to the end of that.]

Not counting the TCF Bank naming rights agreement, the University of Minnesota has raised roughly $39 million. Much of that -- $24 million -- has come in the 14 months since the Legislature approved the stadium-financing package, according to Judy Kirk, executive vice president of the University of Minnesota Foundation, which is assisting in the fundraising.

University officials are confident that with $26 million still to be raised privately -- public money is financing much of the stadium's cost -- the job ahead is doable before the 50,000-seat, campus facility opens in two years. "Great progress is being made," said John Lindahl, who with his wife, Nancy, have donated $1 million and have co-chaired the overall fundraising drive. Norwest Equity Partners, where Lindahl is the managing partner, has also given $1 million.

"All I know is we have until September of '09 to do it," he said, referring to the opening date.

But unless more large contributors come forward, the remainder will have to come from smaller donations. [And from jerking students and alumni around in all the time-honored ways: Vast student activity fees... immensely inflated ticket prices... deferred maintenance on campus infrastructure... withdrawal of various forms of academic support...]

--minnesota star tribune--
Time Someone Finally Said It.

And said it so well.

--via arts and letters daily--

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Philip Booth, An Excellent Poet...

...has died. Here's his New York Times obituary. It quotes from the last lines of the following poem:

First Lesson

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

A great poet shows you how to be sentimental without being full of rot. What saves this poem from kitsch is the tightly cerebral rhyme scheme, conveying control rather than emotional gush. What also saves it is the subtlety of its theme -- actually, its two themes, since it counsels not only a relaxed trust of the world and one's instincts, but also the courage throughout life to face things face up, fully animated and engaged...

It reminds old UD (she's read, well, a lot of poems, and is always cross-referencing...) of this poem by Yvor Winters:

At the San Francisco Airport

to my daughter, 1954

This is the terminal: the light
Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
The metal glitters, deep and bright,
Great planes are waiting in the yard-
They are already in the night.

And you are here beside me, small,
Contained and fragile, and intent
On things that I but half recall -
Yet going whither you are bent.
I am the past, and that is all.

But you and I in part are one:
The frightened brain, the nervous will,
The knowledge of what must be done,
The passion to acquire the skill
To face that which you dare not shun.

The rain of matter upon sense
Destroys me momently. The score:
There comes what will come. The expense
Is what one thought, and something more -
One's being and intelligence.

This is the terminal, the break.
Beyond this point, on lines of air,
You take the way that you must take;
And I remain in light and stare -
In light, and nothing else, awake.

Again a father launches a daughter, this time not into water but into air; again the complicated anxiety and love and advice-giving. A meditation on his own shrinking world, in contrast to the dramatically expanding world of his young daughter, darkens the Winters poem, though.

I've always loved and often quoted to myself one particular line:

The rain of matter upon sense
Destroys me momently.

This odd and highly original line comes to me in hectic urban moments. I love its awkward and ambiguous final adverb. Awkward, ambiguous, powerful and beautiful, with its echoes of momentous, and for a moment, and - I don't know - the way it expresses delicacy, debility... the whole poem imparts somehow for me the difficulty of existence.

Yet still with the theme of Booth's poem in it - the bravery to live your life fully.
L'Etat, c'est project manager.

On July 4, the Washington Post ran a short article on the non-independence of the French university system, which the country's new leader wants to change. All new leaders of France try to change it. And fail.

Sarkozy's reform will allow universities to pick their own teachers, decide their salaries and manage their own buildings, helping them retain good staff and ensure their facilities work.

It will also make it easier to seek money from companies and regional governments.

French universities are already allowed to link up with the private sector but the university has no control over how the money is used.

An example is offered:

The ugly concrete campus of Paris 6 university is dominated by a tower that has been a building site for eleven years as asbestos is removed. Nobody seems to be able to pinpoint when the work will finish.

The government tried to brighten the dreary site with a modernistic red and yellow science building but forgot to put in air conditioning, a mistake because the laboratory machines heat up to temperatures that damage the research.

For Paris 6 President Jean-Charles Pomerol these problems sum up the main weakness of France's crumbling universities, the focus of a reform bill discussed in cabinet on Wednesday.

"The state is the project manager," he said. "The state treats us like children and doesn't ask us what we need."

Monday, July 09, 2007

This Theme...

...close to UD's heart, preoccupies more and more editorialists, which makes UD very happy. The guy who wrote about it for Inside Higher Education a few weeks ago produced a more powerful piece than this more recent one in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. But both are saying all the right things. Compare their maturity and sense with the sphincter-musings of Ben Stein.

...Why ... do private donors — some of them entrepreneurs who should know better — engage in mindless donations of their money? After all, one who gives money to a university must (or should) have done so with a serious thought about the difference that money would make at the chosen institution. In this sense, "return on investment" refers to a concrete, positive change.

Yet in the past 10 years, donors have parted with vast sums of money in donations to colleges and universities that truly do not need them. When a university is richer than several countries put together, when a university can comfortably live off the returns on its billions of dollars in endowment, and when a university can no longer convincingly demonstrate how new money will make a concrete difference in the academic experience of faculty members and students, additional donations to the university are not only mindless but outright wasteful.

...Endowments of several millions of dollars are becoming increasingly insignificant to universities; the desire now is to become members of the billion-dollar club. Even among them, the race is on for a two-digit billion-dollar membership. One wonders if campaigns of that size are merely to accumulate wealth and bragging rights.

...[T]he increasing concentration of donations to the Ivy Leagues and top fund raisers should concern us. The 10 wealthiest institutions in the Council for Aid to Education's survey accounted for half of the total growth in private donations during the 2006 fiscal year — meaning that about $1.2-billion of last year's $2.4-billion increase in private donations went to last year's top 10 fund raisers. In a nation with more than 4,000 colleges and universities, that statistic is disturbing.

Naturally, most of those donors gave to their alma maters. But when your alma mater is already fabulously wealthy, it is advisable, indeed wise, to shun your sentimental attachment to the institution and adopt other institutions that can yield better returns. Making a concrete difference in the lives of students and faculty members should be the basis for giving to higher education.

Donations to mega-rich universities do not directly improve the academic experience of their professors and students, or result in any qualitative improvement in student learning. However, there are institutions where noticeable changes can be brought about by small donations — where classrooms can be upgraded, libraries renovated and expanded, and the burden of cost on students alleviated. These institutions are no Ivy Leagues; they may have no name recognition beyond a 10-mile radius of their locations; and they may have little or nothing to invest in their development efforts. However, they constitute a sector where donations may yield the highest returns on investment.

Donors should rethink their contributions to hugely endowed institutions, no matter how tempting their baits may be. With the exception of those who stumble into their wealth or inherit it, most rich people get that way by spending less than they earn and investing the difference in ventures with high-yielding returns. The same thinking and logic ought to steer their generous hearts and guide their decisions to donate to universities. They should think of where their dollars will make the most difference, where they will affect the most lives, where they have potential to transform the institution, where the campaign is for genuine academic excellence not merely the growth of the endowment or the ego of the president.

If I had a million dollars to donate, I would think of investing it in higher education for sure, but universities with endowments of more than $1-billion would have a tougher time persuading me to part with my money, while a struggling institution that is doing a superb job educating its students and that can demonstrate how the money will make a difference will readily command my attention.

---Steve O. Michael

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Larger the Land Cruiser,
The More Scope for Cultural Understanding

Universities are optimally configured for serious conflicts of interest when they appoint faculty to their business schools (or related profit-oriented departments and institutes) with strong family feeling plus expensive tastes. These are usually guys who insist on the best of everything for their wives and children, and who feel that the university should pay.

University auditors have questioned why on six overseas trips, CU-Denver paid all or a portion of the travel expenses of Gail Schoettler, the state's former lieutenant governor and treasurer.

Schoettler is married to Donald Stevens, who, at the time of the trips, was managing director of CU-Denver's Institute for International Business.

Stevens retired May 31, after he and a company he founded agreed to pay the university $268,520 to settle various allegations, including questions about his travel expenses. [For once, UD would like to see quotation marks. They'd go around the word "retired."]

Since the late 1980s, Schoettler and Stevens have taken numerous overseas trips together, according to thousands of pages of university travel documents.

The auditors specifically questioned Schoettler's travel with Stevens on four trips to China, and one trip each to India and Eastern Europe.

They also questioned similar payments for Stevens' son, Jeffrey, on one of the trips to China.

The trips were sponsored by CU-Denver's Institute for International Business. "On one trip, a family member was not charged the program fee charged to other participants. On another, the family member was not charged for the program fee or the overseas airfare, while all other participants paid the fee and their airfare," the auditors reported. "In other instances, the university paid a portion or all the travel expenses for the family members, including meals, in-country travel and other services. Expenses covered for the family members on the trips totaled $19,619.20."

...The auditors said that there was an apparent conflict of interest because Stevens authorized the travel for his wife and son without approval from higher levels of the school's administration. They also said no "scope of work" forms were filled out for Schoettler or Jeffrey Stevens and approved by the school's human-resources department, as required.

...Stevens had failed to properly document some of his trips; used some university funds on personal vacations and to pay his family's way; and used university services to operate a private company he owned.

When Stevens resigned his $184,420-a-year CU post, he and his private company repaid the university more than $256,000 and almost $12,000 for travel the university ruled was not work-related. The university did not seek repayment for Schoettler's or Jeffrey Stevens' expenses.

One of the trips that caught the attention of the auditors was to India. The auditors said the trip was scheduled for 16 days but auditors noted that 12 days of the trip consisted of activities such as safaris, elephant rides and tours.

Stevens has maintained that such trips, although they appear to be nonbusiness in nature, are critical to understanding the culture of the country and how business is conducted.

In making arrangements for the India trip, Stevens stressed that he wanted first-class train accommodations, the largest Volvo motor coach and Land Cruisers rather than flatbed trucks on one of the safaris.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm:
Flyover Guy-Writing

SOS has already discussed the category of prose she calls guy-writing. Flyover Guy-Writing is guy-writing from the heartland. Here's an example, from the Toledo Blade. There are problems.

Countless University of Toledo alumni and sports fans, and even the casual everyday observer who relishes dirty laundry being aired, must be wondering just how long Mike O'Brien will be able to hold onto his job as UT's director of athletics. [Background here.] [And, uh, as to style... If you've been following SOS at all, you know we've already got a wordiness problem. Yes, the laundry thing is a cliche, but sports writers only do cliches, and we're about to get a full hamper of them. So forget cliches. Just factor in cliches. Look, instead, at the words jamming things up: both casual and everyday, when one of those two would be better... There are other bad signs: The word "relishes" isn't quite right for the laundry image, and there's his choice of the clunky "to be" word ("being") in place of something smoother...]

Me? I wonder why he'd even want to. [This is good. Strong, simple, and gets its own paragraph. Note that he'll nicely return to this point at the end of the piece.]

His department is being micro-managed by the president's office, which has also been the source of much information that has found its way into media reports lately. [Is... has... has... Again with the dull "to be" words. And don't forget content, as the writer's argument revs up: He's trying to defend a very corrupt athletic department -- a difficult thing to do even with excellent writing ability -- by complaining that it's really an okay place, just suffering from micro-management... He fails to point out that it wasn't managed at all for so long a time that it became impossibly corrupt: The new oversight is a direct result of the department's own fuckupery.] UT's relatively new president believes that public business should be conducted in public. That's fine. But it is one thing to conduct public business and it's another to let a major department head publicly twist in the breeze.

O'Brien isn't perfect. There's enough smoke coming out of UT to indicate there might be a fire or two at least smoldering. [Sure, sure, the cliches ... the bizarrely mixed figurative language... But I'm telling you that this is how all sports writers write... ] Maybe he hasn't paid enough attention to every paperclip and every penny. [Cry me a paperclip. We're talking bigtime corruption here. This is where Flyover Guy-Writing most clearly expresses itself. The guy's a booster. Probably buddies with many of the principals, etc.] Maybe coaches and administrators have overstepped vague bounds when it comes to travel and expenses. [Why are they vague?] Maybe having revenue from an away basketball game sent directly to a third-party sporting goods company was a bad idea. (Actually, there's no maybe about that one.) [A tragic schizoid thing begins to emerge here, in which the guy both acknowledges obvious malfeasance and complains about people who point it out...] Maybe the athletic deficit is too large, although I'd defy you to find many, if any, [many, if any, is pretty weird] mid-major universities playing Division I-A football that are operating at a profit. [Hey, that's right... To all the other stuff we can say about programs like Toledo's, we can add money-loser.] Maybe some of the staffers at Savage Hall should not be enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.

And, of course, there's the smoking e-mail. In the aftermath of the merger of UT and the Medical University of Ohio, which took place just over a year ago, an assistant athletic director whose job was to oversee business affairs and monitor finances was dismissed, ostensibly because her position was absorbed by the merger. It was hard to buy from the start. If the alumni director at one school or the other was let go it would make sense. [A bit obnoxious, I know - just reminding you about the WAS problem...] Or a public information officer. Or a campus police chief. Or a president. One merged school, one merged job. But MUO, to my knowledge, had no athletic department. So in what way did the merger render this woman's job unnecessary? It didn't add up.

O'Brien, who is a smart man, then did a very, very stupid thing and it might ultimately cost him his job. [The wordiness thing again. Drop who is. Drop then. Drop very - you don't need either one of them. Like a lot of intensifiers, these actually dilute. Drop ultimately.] Knowing that this woman, by now a very disgruntled ex-employee who was never popular among the Savage Hall set - in part, perhaps, because she was counting every paperclip and penny - was talking to The Blade, O'Brien sent an e-mail to a Blade executive attempting to discredit her and her story. It said, in part, that "I had to eliminate her role as she was a tremendous blow to our morale, among other things." [I'll go through this quickly, since you're getting the idea: Drop by now; drop very; drop who was; instead of she was counting, write she counted.]

The former assistant AD is expected [write will probably to avoid yet another to be word] to file a lawsuit challenging her termination and that e-mail could end up being very expensive [drop very -- and if you want to get rid of the "being very expensive," rewrite the phrase: that email might really cost the university -- something like that.] for UT. O'Brien must have been temporarily brain dead to have clicked the "send" button.

So, all is not well at UT and with O'Brien. And, you may note, we haven't even mentioned the alleged gambling scandal, once a sizzling topic, which now is simmering on the back burner as the FBI presumably goes about its business. That will likely be another story for another day.

Oddly enough, considering all of the above, I'll go on record as saying Mike O'Brien is a heck of an athletic director [Here's where the tragic schizoid guy thing comes in. Having written a spectacular indictment of the place, he will now swear undying love.], at least in regards to the things UT fans really care about - wins and losses, championships, academics (and it might be a stretch to say college sports fans anywhere really care about that), scheduling, game contracts, and facilities. [Off the rails here. So the writer cares only about the shit the fans care about? And what's that thing about academics? Bizarre.]

In fact, had he done nothing else since being hired in January of 2002, O'Brien should be inducted in the Varsity T Hall of Fame for negotiating one contract for one football game. On Sept. 19, 2009, the Rockets will play Ohio State in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Toledo will be the home team, which is an unprecedented coup, and will pocket the proceeds from an allotment of 58,000-plus tickets. The game is an automatic sellout and UT's net proceeds after expenses should top $2.5 million. And that may be conservative. To our knowledge, only one athletic director of one mid-major college football program has ever signed his name to such a contract. The day the tickets go on sale will be the day Toledo's athletic deficit all but disappears.

UT also will realize a $500,000 payday for a recently-announced football game at Michigan during the 2008 season. Over the next four seasons, the Rockets will play home football games against Purdue, Iowa State, Fresno State, Boise State and Arizona, among others.

O'Brien played the lead role in orchestrating a $5 million gift from UT graduate Chuck Sullivan and his wife that jump-started the Savage Hall renovation project. An indoor practice facility for football is also in the advanced planning stages. Needed renovations to several minor sports venues have also been accomplished under O'Brien's watch. And, for seven straight semesters, at least half of UT's athletes have compiled 3.0 grade-point averages or higher. [Well, this is all fine, and I'm sure it means that Toledo's program will soon be one of the few in the country to be profitable, as well as an academic role model.]

Prior to the smoking e-mail, Lloyd Jacobs, the university's president, said publicly that he wanted to retain O'Brien and extend the AD's contract beyond its June, 2008 end date. But he then appointed a committee to examine O'Brien's performance and make a recommendation regarding any extension. Strange. [Not strange. Someone who understands the term "tipping point" finally got to the university's president.]

Jacobs has announced a restructuring that moves all athletic compliance and financial accounting under the central administration. He removed from the post of faculty athletics representative a respected law professor with 17 years in the position. He suggested in a letter to O'Brien that laws may have been violated in the control of medications and that the AD should consider replacing the head team physician, a contract employee for 18 years with impeccable, nationally-recognized credentials in sports medicine, with an employee of the university's Health Science Campus. He requested an inquiry by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which subsequently found no critical problems and no laws broken.

Jacobs also declared that all returning football and men's basketball players would be subject to an interview with a special counsel appointed by the state attorney general's office before their eligibility was certified for the upcoming school year. He put a spin on it but, frankly, it sounds every bit like forced participation in an internal investigation into the alleged gambling scandal.

So, to sum up, the UT athletic director has the main campus finance and compliance offices, internal investigators, a contract committee, a special counsel, the Health Science Campus, a new faculty rep, an inquisitive media, possibly the FBI, and most definitely a president who seems intent on reinventing the athletic wheel looking over his shoulder.

Mike O'Brien may or may not be able to keep his job.

Frankly, I can't imagine why he'd want it.

A lot of flyover guys can't think straight. They've got a barroom charm UD likes to be around. But they can't think straight. They emotionalize everything. UD stirs her pina colada and smiles at them sympathetically as they spin their tales, but inside she's thinking There, there, little fella...


A Bridge To FAU

The crucial thing to keep in mind, as the Barry Kaye/Florida Atlantic University story heats up (background here), is that this latest thing, this cruise, was educational.

That's why the university's president didn't use any of his vacation time for the eight-day first-class Caribbean jaunt Kaye gave him and his wife. He was learning something... or Barry Kaye was learning something... or something...

Let's try to unpack this, keeping in mind, please, that UD's mind isn't quite off the beach:

[President] Brogan did not take personal leave days for the trip because he was on official university business, according to the statement.

Kaye treated the Brogans to a first-class experience. Brogan and his wife stayed in Stateroom 1001, which according to the Crystal Cruises Web site is a 491-square-foot penthouse suite, complete with a private veranda, personal butler service, a Jacuzzi-brand bathtub, separate shower and bidet.

Bridge Holidays, the travel agency that booked the trip, paid $232 in gratuities. Bridge Holidays owner Roberta Salob said this is standard practice for travel agents. Bridge Holidays specializes in teaching the card game bridge to passengers [bolding UD's]. A financial form Brogan submitted to the state lists the trip as an "educational cruise."

"The term 'educational cruise' ... refers to the fact that this was an opportunity to educate Barry and Carole Kaye on the future growth of the university, and, in particular, the College of Business. It was not meant to refer to the 'bridge' component of the cruise," the statement [from the university] said.

Okay, so they book an agency that specializes in cruises that teach you how to play bridge... Did they get lessons? Even if they did, though, FAU students need to realize that their president isn't in fact calling a Caribbean cruise with bridge lessons an educational cruise.... No, it turns out that the education component of the trip was educating Barry Kaye in the future growth of the university's business school, a school he ultimately paid for.

Round these parts, we call that lobbying, not educating....

What else have we got here -- I'm reading through the recent article in the Sun-Sentinel... And keep in mind, too, all the sob stories you've been reading for the last few years about how devilishly hard it is to be a university president... the grueling nature of the job... which is why million-dollar compensation packages are to be expected... Here's an example of the sort of thing university presidents have to do: Eight-day first class Caribbean cruises for themselves and their wives on a donor's dime...

While Brogan's action appears to be legal, it shows questionable judgment, said Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause Florida, a government watchdog group.

"If the president felt this was beneficial to the university, the university could have at least paid his way," Wilcox said. "If they're trying to cultivate [Kaye] for another large gift, you could argue that the university should be taking him on a cruise."

Yes indeed. In taking so much from Kaye, the university obviously puts itself in an awkward position.

"You want your president to be free of encumbered influences," said Mark Jackson, associate professor of chemistry at FAU. "You want him to make a decision based on what's good for the university, not Barry Kaye."

Earlier this year, some faculty members also questioned whether FAU was entering into a business relationship with Kaye when it co-sponsored two symposiums on life settlements, an area in which Kaye does business. With life settlements, private companies buy the life insurance policies of the elderly and collect when they die.

The newspapers have got their teeth in this one. There will be more stories. UD has already predicted at least a Pulitzer nomination for someone as they gnaw away at one of the more colorful university corruption stories around.

Thanks to Marcee.
Half a post, half a post...

...Half a post onward,
All in the valley of Dearth
Read the six hundred.
"Forward, the Blog Brigade!
Click on the url!" he said:
Into the valley of Dearth
Read the six hundred.

"Forward, the Blog Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the readers knew
UD at the beachhead lay:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Dearth
Read the six hundred.

Boredom to right of them,
Boredom to left of them,
Boredom in front of them
Seduc'd and sunder'd;
Reduced to a shell,
Boldly they read and well,
Into the jaws of Dearth,
Into the mouth of Hell
Read the six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the faithful charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Blog Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

UD thanks her loyal readers for continuing to check in on University Diaries during her absence. Regular posting coming up.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Every Summer at the Beach...

...UD and her sister laugh at the following things:

1.] Their duet from the Ying Tong Song.

2.] UD's performance of the opening soliloquy from Wayne's World, in which Wayne describes his pathetic-job name tags.

3.] Any use, on UD's sister's part, of the Yiddish accent.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste...

...but every once in a while, you can sit with your sister at a restaurant at the beach and go ahead and waste it. Later.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Boardwalk Walk...

...on July 4 is all about flags and bunting and people wearing high hats full of red white and blue.

Tonight, UD will stand on her balcony and watch fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


UD's at the beach, and her brain is so fried that she can't read, let alone write. Later.

Monday, July 02, 2007

AH-C Update:
'Simply Not Willing'

UD has already, on this blog, reported the discovery of the AH gene, predisposing carriers, in the words of the study, "to chronic behavior in an obnoxious, boorish, selfish, overbearing, and generally offensive manner (pp. 128 - 129)."

AH-Carriers have "four alleles... which [we] refer to as rectalleles." Depending on the combination of alleles in carriers, they may be "complete AH's" or lesser varieties of these.

One local high-profile AH-Carrier is sure to catch the attention of researchers:

'A high-powered institute director at the National Institutes of Health disregarded conflict-of-interest guidelines by making decisions affecting the university where he was a faculty member, broke government spending rules, and raised concerns with his growing involvement as an expert witness in legal cases, according to sources within NIH and Congress and hundreds of pages of confidential documents.

[He is] David Schwartz, a physician and researcher recruited from Duke University to great fanfare in 2005 as chief of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences...

... In one exchange, when officials learned that Schwartz had not fully divested all his biotechnology and drug company stocks as required, Schwartz wrote to the NIH ethics office that the divestiture "seems totally unreasonable. . . . I'm simply not willing to limit my investments in this way." '

Sunday, July 01, 2007


From the Guardian:


I like short stories with happy endings. Last week we saw how the mightily eminent pharmacologist Professor David Colquhoun (FRS) was having his witty and informative "Improbable Science" quackbusting blog quietly banished from the UCL servers. He had questioned claims made by a herbal medicine practitioner called Dr Ann Walker over, for example, the "blood cleansing" properties of red clover (also a "cleanser of the lymphatic system", apparently) and criticised her for making public statements about the benefits of vitamin supplements in an academic journal, without disclosing her role as spokesperson for the Health Supplements Information Service, a lobby group for the multibillion-pound supplements industry. Walker complained.

Well, in fact her husband complained. Of defamation. Directly to the provost. He also complained of breach of copyright (Colquhoun quoted part of a website he was writing about), breach of data protection requirements, and issued various requests to UCL under the Freedom of Information Act. He also demanded that a paper was circulated to all UCL council members concerning Colquhoun's misuse of IT resources, and possibly office space and secretarial facilities.

Now above all, to me, these moves lack style. Dr Walker didn't contact Professor Colquhoun about what he wrote, and nowhere has she addressed any of the scientific arguments he made. In fact Colquhoun had the decency to contact Walker and ask what "blood cleanser" meant (before then describing the phrase as "meaningless gobbledygook") and never received a reply.

Colquhoun's brief move away from UCL produced a gratifying avalanche of letters to the provost in defence of robust criticism, and after this - and necessary expensive legal consultations - it was announced on Wednesday that Colquhoun's blog is to be de-excommunicated.

But amusingly, in these democratic times, there are inevitable consequences of trying to silence a blogger - especially when you make a hash of it - and a mass of activity has now grown into what is cheerfully being described as "a festival of Ann Walker". As the Sciencepunk blog gleefully points out, Ann Walker's claims are now more famous than ever.

Most have started by trundling through her pieces on a pill-vendor website called Healthspan. In one piece, Walker promotes the idea that neanderthals were not a distinct kind of human, but degenerate and malnourished versions of ordinary humans: buy pills or regress to a sub-human state, seems to be Walker's message. Yikes. Dr Andy Lewis on the Quackometer blog points out the flaws, and shows how the "neanderthal as malnourished homo sapiens" argument is more commonly found on quack creationist websites.

Meanwhile, Holfordwatch wades in to look at the evidence behind her claims that Ginkgo biloba pills are effective in dementia and cognitive impairment, and Coracle from the Science and Progress blog examines her claims on glucosamine and chondroitin pills. Coracle makes an interesting general point about the patterns that often emerge in trial research on any pill: "Early, and poorer quality trials showed benefit for chondroitin vs placebo, but in later and more robust trials this benefit gets closer to equivalence with placebo."

These critical pieces generate insights, and new ideas, because claims are rarely just wrong, they are usually interestingly wrong. It's a shame that discussions about interesting wrongness should take place under threat of litigation. Now don't let me get too web-happy on you here, but these stories are the perfect illustration of why UCL is right to stand by Colquhoun and his blog, because it is not a waste of an academic's time, nor does it waste minuscule quantities of electricity and hard disk space.

Coracle makes his point about the quality of evidence, for example, with reference to a blog post on the same phenomenon by Prof Colquhoun. These are ordinary, everyday people chatting with each other, with passion - and with Fellows of the Royal Society - about science, in a popular forum, in everyday language, and forgive me as I wipe a tear away but this is a very, very beautiful thing.

Ideally one shouldn't be rude about people (although it may be justified). But criticising activities and ideas, of all things, with a passion for the truth, should never be a dangerous hobby. Good luck not getting sued.

Ben Goldacre
Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Andrew Sullivan's Restricted.