Friday, July 27, 2007

College Naming; Corporate Welfare

July 27, 2007, 6:15 a.m.

Not a lot on the radar screen this morning, but there's plenty in this past week's blog entries to satisfy any reader's need for a blog fix.

Meanwhile, a couple of Des Moines Register letters to the editor deal with the Wellmark College of Public Health and the general subject of corporate welfare. Both (along with the comments on the first) provide more evidence, if such was needed, that folks are watching, and thinking, and full well know what's going on around them. We're not as dumb, uninformed and apathetic as some corporate officials and elected officials seem to think we are.

Palmer Holden, "What's the going rate for a college?"
Des Moines Register, July 27, 2006

If Des Moines businessman Marvin Pomerantz will sell the University of Iowa College of Public Health for $15 million, what would he take to name the university "Wellmark University of Iowa?"

If you are willing to sell your soul for a college, why not a university?


Reader Comment Posted by: 420friendly on Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:34 pm

How many people would like to see the "Microsoft Computing Center"?

or the "Viacom Communications Building"?

or the "HarperCollins English Building"?

or the "DeCoster Agricultural College"?

or the "Clear Channel School Of Music"?

or the "Knapp Properties School Of Business"?

or the "Gannett School Of Journalism"!

Reader Comment Posted by: PeaceMom on Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:35 am

Pomerantz is a bully.

Jeff Clingan, "Give incentives to workers, not companies,"
Des Moines Register, July 26, 2007 ("Regarding the July 14 story, 'Manufacturer Interested in Newton': It's not too difficult to picture this company's executives gleefully rubbing their hands together at the prospect of watching 1,800 out-of-work people fight over 700 low-paying jobs while simultaneously extorting $2 million from Iowa taxpayers. If Chet Culver wants to hand out $2 million, let him give it to the people who will be taking a giant pay cut.")

# # #


Anonymous said...

An interesting topic to discuss would be the current Big 10/11 meetings going on. Seems the conference would like to add a 12th member based on projected TV revenue.

Is this what a group of distingished academic schools want wagging them... Sports entertainment/cable/satellite TV?

Anonymous said...

I am a UI alum and an occasional reader of DC2Iowa. With regard to "the revenue is needed" discussion, your analysis is typically cogent and characteristically readable. However, as you note earlier in your blog, the foibles of human nature are not limited to the past. Is it possible to assert, though, that the lines between what is perceived to be 'needed' and what is 'indispensable for survival' are blurring faster in this age than ever before? It could be that the unprecedented rate of technological change, coupled with the imminent exhaustion of key inputs to our economy, that the scenarios we now face are becoming complex beyond direct comprehension. This is not meant to excuse us from our responsibilities of our stewardship, but only to suggest that we may be reaching our cognitive limits for dealing with the problem space that confronts us, even if it is only as large as the concerns of the University of Iowa.

In popular culture, one work that strives to highlight the struggle for clarity in the midst of chaos is "Dr. Strangelove". In the spirit of good humor (but also to solidify your point) I first quote your blog entry:

Why not change the rules and sell alcohol throughout the football stands (rather than just in the skyboxes)? Better yet, why not have coeds dressed like Hooters waitresses making the sales?

And now, from the movie:

I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor! (spoken by De Sadeski, the Soviet ambassador, after hearing Dr. Strangelove’s vision for the survival of the human race, one involving the dissolution of monogamous relationships as far as men were concerned).

As in the scene where the line was delivered, where the players are confronted with an unthinkable future, and are putting forward ideas about what is 'indispensable for survival' - ideas that cut strongly against the prevailing ethos - we are confronted with a similar nexus of choices. Are we really willing to face a future where we cannot attend a football game without ourselves wearing helmets and other protective gear to defend ourselves against projectiles launched by drunken hooligan fans? And, should we have a university where scholars conduct courses and produce research that are oriented toward a point of view that supports, however subtlely, their corporate benefactor? Are these consequences commensurate to what is ‘indispensable for survival’, to what is ‘needed’, or to something else altogether? Having a clear answer to the last question is crucial to determining the vision for our University. I trust that dialogue such as that supported by your blog and your public remarks brings us closer to these answers.

Anonymous said...

Actually, anonymous (8/03/2007 04:39:00 PM ) might be on to something. The Academy has always been justly protective of freedom of discourse. The concept of interests outside the Academy disrupting the exchange of ideas is an anethema to Academicians. The paradox is this: what happens if a school of thought is challenged from within the Academy? Is that discourse encouraged in the same way that "acceptable" discourse is? An interesting example of this is occuring now at Duke University. KC Johnson's blog Durham-In-Wonderland
is worth a read if only to explore one blogger's take on the nature of academic freedom and academic responsibility.