Monday, January 22, 2007

On the Road to BigU Greatness...

UD cites an opinion piece in the Minnesota Daily by a BigU undergrad, Nicholas Maxwell: "Stadium Does Not Serve Core Mission." Mr. Maxwell should be proud as UD cites this as "a nicely written opinion piece" in a precis headed "Humongous Dessert Plate for Minnesota Students" [January 21, 2007]. As someone who works at the medical school at BigU, I will only quote two paragraphs of embarrassment from the article:

the University has announced a $40 million increase in the budget for the new on-campus stadium. This represents a 16 percent increase in the project's total cost and the explanation of the source of these additional funds was also curious, "money management decisions" and "the issuance of … new debt."

Just like that, the University is willing to pony up the $40 million necessary to ensure "the stadium is not built on the cheap." Yet, back in October, when the Community University Health Clinic (a facility that actually contributes to the University's core mission of outreach by providing health care to low income families) eliminated 17 positions due to budget cuts, the University's administration was nowhere to be found with any magical "money management decisions" to save that outreach.

Meanwhile the Nobel prize winning chemist Peter Agre writes in the letters to the editor section of the Strib today from Durham, NC, where he currently works at Duke. Agre went to Augsburg, where his father was a chem prof. Augsburg is within easy walking distance of the Bonzo's residence, SmallHouse in Seward. Peter Agre's father, Courtland Agre, had earlier taught at St. Olaf and Peter was born in Northfield. I knew Courtland Agre slightly as he was still in action when Mr. Bonzo was a rookie chemist. Dr. Agre sometimes taught summer school organic chemistry (OChem as the youngsters now call it) at BigU.


"I attended Augsburg College, where my father taught. Augsburg was not exclusive, and my classmates were often from working-class families. Many of my friends from RHS [Roosevelt High School] attended the University of Minnesota which was also not considered exclusive at the time."

"One dramatic difference, however, between Augsburg and University of Minnesota and those at Johns Hopkins [from which he got an MD and spent most of his academic life] and Duke [where he now is] is the privileged backgrounds of the latter. A disproportionate number of Duke students come from prep schools, and exceedingly few are from the working class. Moreover, there is often huge family push behind students at the latter institutions and not infrequently a lot of insider pull to gain admission."

"...the hard work and personal responsibility that we learned from our parents, while attending public schools and working at after-school jobs, still carry us forward. I am reminded of the words of the late Kirby Puckett: 'It doesn't matter where you come from. It only matters how you play the game.'"

To which Mr. Bonzo can only say: "Bravo !"

The people reengineering, ah, transforming BigU might want to think a little bit harder about whether the goal of becoming an elite institution is a good idea for ColdState taxpayers.

OUCH! It just gets worse and worse...

From the Pioneer Planet - Gemini Cities other paper:

"Two-thirds of the minority athletes who came to the U between 1999 and 2002 were considered academically "at-risk" based on their weak high-school class rank and poor college entrance exam scores."

"Data collected for the report paint a generally frustrating portrait of a university opening the door to some athletes — often from racial and ethnic minority groups — whose academic histories make them likely candidates for academic failure."

"The report also urges the U to reach out more to student-athletes who've left the school without graduating to get them to return and complete their degrees."

"However, it contains no recommendations for minimum academic qualifications for athletes entering the U, nor for standards that would align the U's increasingly rigorous overall academic profile with athletics. [emphasis added bg] Officials said they focused instead on how to help students once they'd been accepted."

As Mr. Bonzo is fond of saying: "It is time to get real at BigU."

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