Saturday, June 16, 2007

Are you being Driven? To Distraction?

Driven to Discover question of the day:

"How much cotton is in a 100% cotton shirt?"

Mr. B. has noted previously the obnoxious public relations campaign (Driven to Discover) being waged by BigU, or should I say by their advertising agency? Thus he was a little annoyed to see the latest version of M magazine arrive in his mailbox complete with Driven to Discover logo front and back as well as another one of those obnoxious questions of earth-shaking importance: "Why don't spiders get caught in their own web?" I leave it to the interested reader to pursue this matter. Could it be evolution or is it perhaps intelligent design? Apparently many of our congresspeople don't believe in evolution, so the answer is obvious. To my great surprise there were actually a number of perceptive letters printed in this issue of M.

To wit:

...I found the article in the winter 2007 issue of M somewhat frightening. In the article, Dean Thomas Fisher writes that the College of Design "educates students to be leaders in the field of social change via design, and to be visionaries for a better future." then works through a list of politically charged buzzwords that leave little doubt about where his personal political allegiances lie. Must some unsuspecting 18-year-old who enrolls at the U wanting to learn how to design Web pages, or blouses, or houses, or gardens--and maybe also make the world a better place in accordance with his or her own personal beliefs and vision--also get an entire load of ideology about exactly what the visions should be?

David W. Downing, St. Paul

And our old friend Will Shapira - who must be BigU's worst letter-writing nightmare - opines:

I take strong issue with the upbeat message and feel-good tone of the M spring 2007 article about the new football stadium. I believe it is a total waste of taxpayer dollars and an insult and embarrassment to those of us who abhor the jock mentality that has spread from the Bierman Athletic Building to the office of President Bruininks.... [ellipses are in the printed letter, so it may have been shortened.] How does a football stadium help Bruininks move toward his purported goal of making the U a top research university? Ski-U-Bah!

Willard B. Shapira

Now Mr. B. has always thought of W. Shapira as some kind of anti-athletics nut (sort of like Mr. B) but he has an interesting background indicating that his position may be a lot more subtle than some of his letters indicate.

He is identified as a "Minnesota Daily sportswriter, 1954-58, Daily sports editor, 1956-58, Minnesota Gopher (yearbook) sports editor 1956-58."

Kudos to M magazine for printing these letters. Maybe something could be done about them by OurLeader and the Board of Regents? Mr. B. still strongly believes that BigU can be a great university. But we have a lot to fix and a good start would be to drop the expensive and lame Driven to Discover campaign and the ambitious aspiration of being one of the top three public research universities in the world.

For a different model of athletics and academics see:

Quartet Set for 'C' Club Hall of Fame Inductions

(which is a description of post-graduate activities of the latest inductees into the Carleton College 'C' Club hall of fame)

Ciao, Bonzo

Mrs. B. is in Nuevo York, so I can spend the day and evening in the lab...

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