Academic Implosion Continues

The University of North Carolina has been offered a substantial donation to create a new program in Western Cultures. 70 faculty members have signed a petition demanding that the university reject the money and stop talking to the foundation which is offering the donation.

The stated reason is that the foundation, which is conservatively-oriented, “has made many professors uneasy due to its financial support of organizations often critical of the university.” (Quote from article here.) Critical of the university?…the horror! There are also assertions that the negotiations between the foundation and the university administration are lacking in “transparency,” a charge that the administration denies.

It’s hard for me to believe that the negative response to this proposal doesn’t have something to do with the general negativity toward western culture which is prevalent in many “progressive” circles.

(hat tip: Common Sense and Wonder)

Buzz Machine

Just to make sure that my own position is crystal, I realized that women are different than men when puberty arrived. Do these differences translate over into the sciences or other academic areas? I’m not a statistician so I’m not qualified to say. I’m firmly dedicated to equal rights for all, so I think that everyone should be judged on a one-for-one basis.

No matter what he actually believed, Larry Summers certainly should have kept his mouth shut, though. You’d think that the Pres of Harvard would have known that.

Now the Harvard faculty is screaming for his blood, which is to be expected. But the part of the story from tha last link that really stood out was this little passage.

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A Question

I was in one of my history classes today, listening to the lecture. The professor, a PhD, was discussing how some of the earliest colleges in Japan benefitted from instructors who lived beyond their means. Some top-of-the-line names in Japanese academia would work at Tokyo University, which was the only Ivy League-level school the Japanese had at the time, and then they’d moonlight at some lesser institution. This meant that those who couldn’t afford the big tuition could still get a top-notch education.

Okay, so far, so good. But I was wondering why he seemed so amused by it all. Then he reminisced about a colleague which had been caught doing the very same thing just a few years before. This fellow would perform his academic duties at Ohio State University, but then would get in his car and drive to one of the community colleges downtown so he could teach two courses there.

Okay, I’m still saying “So what?” The guy needs money ’cause he has a mistress. Or he doesn’t need to sleep more than 2 hours every day and wants to put his time to good use. Whatever the reason, what’s the difference so long as everyone he works for is satisfied with his performance?

But my prof then said that the axe came down as soon as OSU found out about his other jobs.

What the hell? Why did they do that?

The prof said that prestigious universities think that you should devote your time to them and that’s it! It’s considered a priviledge to work for them, and if you don’t spend all your productive time in their service then you’re stealing.

Hey, Ginny! You and your husband are academics. Is this actually true?



Hey, people quit their jobs all the time. Why should we care?

The professors in question were a couple of performance artists who were working in the art department. They’re all in a tizzy ’cause a student wasn’t suspended for a performance.

Anyway, some graduate student had a peice where he aimed a real-looking gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire, the kid walked out the door, and the sound of a gunshot rang out from outside the room.

Yeah, yeah, I know. People get to apply for grant money for this? I’m in the wrong business.

But any negative reaction is unwarranted. Near as I can tell, no one was threatened with the gun. In fact, no one was harmed at all. The cops aren’t even sure if the gun used was real. Sounds like a whole lot of nothing to me.

That’s what the school administration figured, since they refused to suspend the kid for his (heh) art. That’s why the two profs, Chris Burden and Nancy Rubins, decided to call it quits and turned in their walking papers.

What’s really fascinating to me is that Chris Burden is bitchin’ about this. He first gained fame in 1971 as a young performance artist who had a buddy shoot his arm with a .22 rifle. (Here’s a blurry picture of the moment of impact.)

Oh, but that was different! Burden claims that the graduate student who faked suicide committed an act of “domestic terrorism”. Having his own arm shot way back when wasn’t the same since no one in the audience felt they were in any danger, while the kid at UCLA caused “genuine fear”.

Wah wah wah. Cry me a river, Chris. He’s probably just jealous that he didn’t think of the idea first.

Click and Read

Did you have an imagination when you were a kid? Then you need to read this.

It’s from Bob Wallace, who gave up on reading because the schools leached all the wonder out of it. Then, when he was 11, he found his first John Carter, Warlord of Mars book.

Anybody else in here remember that day? When you opened a crappy old book, one with words and no pictures or nothin’, and magic happened?

Bob says that we’re not doing the kids any favor by sanitizing their reading material.

“If stories for kids are boring, kids certainly aren’t going to want to read. And if they don’t read, then they can’t take much advantage of all the knowledge available in literature. That’s saying bye-bye to all the accumulated wisdom of the human race.”

Go read his post. It’s not Burroughs, but there’s still a little magic in there.

(Big hat tip to Trajectory at The Beagle Express, who’s another fellow who remembers.)