Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Advertising Campaign Continues
at the University of Minnesota

Today's Spam from OurProvost

[spam = unsolicited email of a promotional nature]

Although OurProvost does not have time to write the blog that he promised us last September, he does have time for other methods of electronic communication. This morning I was greeted with the following spam message from OurProvost complete with the embedded graphics of our advertising campaign that head this post:

A public research university demonstrates its stature through exceptional students, exceptional faculty and staff, exceptional organization, and exceptional innovation.

Tom Sullivan

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Julius E. Davis Chair in Law

OurProvost, or his handlers, seems to be exceptionally fond of the word exceptional. This is ironic and indicates a lack of institutional memory, probably due to the fact that this was written by an advertising agency.

The University has already been officially declared (October, 1995) an "exceptional organization," a type of NIH probation.

If you repeat something often enough, often enough, the hope seems to be that people will believe it. George Orwell would smile.

Or as a great philosopher once said: "Make it so, Spock."

The clock is ticking. In two years we will be halfway toward our "ambitious aspiration of being one of the top three public research universities in the world[sic]." Given our current status of dead last in our self-inflicted comparison group, either a lot of work needs to be done at the University of Minnesota or our administration should come back down to earth. Or, since OurLeader is a sports fan, maybe he should be like Tubby, rather than Tim.

Currently we are tied for #71 with Virginia Tech, the University of Delaware, and Michigan State [sic]. These results should be truly embarrassing to OurLeader and OurProvost. They are fair warning of an impending train wreck.

Let's put some serious distance between Minnesota and Michigan State before worrying about catching up to Michigan and Berkeley.

Bonzo - who actually does have exceptional students


Postscript: A press release (11:00 am) has been sent out today from the University of Minnesota "News" Service.

Therein it announces that the U's Twin Cities campus goal for graduation rates is:

4-year rate of 60%
5-year rate of 75%
6-year rate of 80%

As of today - right now - according to the University's own data the graduation rate at the University of Illinois is:

Four year: 62%
Five year: 78%
Six year: 81%

So even if we could achieve the U of M goals, target date 2012 [sic], and our competitors made no progress whatsoever during this time, we would then be in sixth place in our own self-inflicted comparison cohort of ten.

However, to be realistic, our competitors will also be improving as described in an earlier post on the Red Queen Effect. Mr. B.'s realistic estimate is that we will do no better than tenth place by 2012.

And this will happen only if we can pass the Ohio State University. Given what is going on at tOSU lately, this is not a sure bet.

Gordon Gee
, the peripatetic university president, is recently back from Vanderbilt and also has ambitious aspirations. tOSU recently nabbed two outstanding chemistry professors from Minnesota, while we looked at our empty wallets. I'm sure Gee can read graduation statistics as well as the next president, and knows how to game them. Besides, I understand they've got some sort of football team in Columbus?

"Ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YourProvost's predilection for the word exceptional reminds me of the 1996 Olympics. Juan Samaranch "commended" the Atlanta organizing committee for staging "a most exceptional" set of games. The crowd understood the word exceptional in that context to be a crass insult, because the only acceptable accolade for any set of games is for that set to be "the best games ever."

So it is here. YourProvost says "exceptional" because he has no other adjective at his disposal. It's disgraceful, and anyone who is really paying attention knows it.

And congratulations on your newest dean. GopherLaw got exactly what it deserved -- a servant of the Law School's most valued faculty. I'm sure YourProvost is exceptionally pleased.