Coffee heat rising

Laughingstock postscript

Our Beloved Leader has circulated a memo about the Obama snubbing. It contains this wording:

Since my appointment [as president of the Great Desert University] we have not awarded honorary degrees to sitting politicians, a practice based on the very practical realities of operating a public university in our political environment. We have not offered degrees to our sitting Senators or our sitting Governors as many universities do. We have not invited them as university commencement speakers either.

In this case, the historic election of Barack Obama, we invited him as our university commencement speaker, the first in recent memory. We did that out of recognition of his unique achievements and his deep connection to our mission as a university committed to excellence and access.

If that’s the reasoning, why didn’t we say so instead of emanating the PR double-talk that went out to the Associated Press Friday?

Heee! It gets better and better.

GDU Defends Status as Champion Laughingstock of North America

LOL! You have to be here to appreciate how ludicrously typical this is. Colleagues are still hooting with ecstatic hilarity (heaven knows we have little enough to laugh at around that place) over columnist Gail Collins’s choice words:

Obama’s round of spring events will culminate in appearances at graduation ceremonies in Notre Dame (where the local bishop is ticked off about the abortion thing) and Arizona State University, where he is not going to receive an honorary degree. A spokeswoman for the university explained that it was withholding that honor from the president because “his body of work is yet to come.”

Tough standards, A.S.U.!

Snark! Gasp…catch your breath, pick yourself up off the floor, and tool on over to CNN, where Our Beloved Employer’s p.r. staff can be seen digging us in even deeper:

The university says that the president’s achievements have yet to rate the honor, and is directing reporters to use a statement given to the Associated Press. “His body of work is yet to come. That’s why we’re not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency,” Media Relations Director Sharon Keller told the AP Thursday.

The university’s guidelines say the degree is merited by “significant contributions to education and society over the course of a person’s career,” though Sandra Day O’Connor and Barry Goldwater — both Arizonans — received the honor after the latter had served just over one term in the Senate, and the former was roughly three years into her Supreme Court tenure. Also honored: activist Cesar Chavez, legendary Arizona senator and former presidential candidate Mo Udall, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite.

Here in the blogosphere, one wit notes that the Great Desert University adjudges Erma Bombeck’s opus sufficient to merit an honorary degree, to say nothing of Jerry Colangelo’s and Steve Allen’s. Backs against the wall, administrators personfully stick with their decision to withhold an honorary degree from the President of the United States but instead will name a scholarship after him.

Mighty white of ’em, eh?

Meanwhile, the highly educated products of our elite institution, patriotic young entrepreneurs steeped in the significance of their nation’s history and place in the world, have made themselves busy peddling their tickets to the graduation ceremony. Entrée to hear the first African American President of the United States in person comes cheap at the Great Desert University: $60 to $100 a seat.

God, what an embarrassment to be associated with that outfit! How can I count the ways I love the prospect of exiting, pursued by…whatever?

Laughingstock Postscript
Funnier and funnier!

How do we deserve these morons?

Yesterday I heard our new governor, Jan Brewer, the Republican former Secretary of State who succeeded Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, speaking on the local NPR station. Some of the things she said were breathtaking. It is hard to understand how such retrograde fools get into public office.

Well, no it’s not. One of her proud constituents called in to ask her when she was going to abolish all-day kindergarten, a blandishment Governor Napolitano fought long and hard to establish. He remarked that all-day kindergarten, which has been shown to improve children’s school performancesubstantiallyover the long run, is “nothing but day care for working mothers.”

So, I guess we get what we deserve: we raise up ignoramuses in our third-rate public schools, and we get ignoramus voters and ignoramus leaders in state and national office.

Brewer took several opportunities to repeat the local Republicans’ party line: that all of the state’s financial problems can be laid squarely on the shoulders of former Governor Napolitano. Every economic woe that afflicts us, from the collapsed real estate market to the government’s emptied coffers, are 100 percent her fault. As though no national and international economic crisis ever happened; as though the state of Arizona existsin its own little vacuumindependent of the rest of the world, its fate determined solely by an evil Democratic governor. And as though our fine Republican leadership had never heard the concept that we must work together to solve this mess (they probably haven’t: remember, these are members of the party that elected another governor who admitted to never reading anything but the Bible).

Apparently these people are totally unrepentant, and they are incapable of understanding that their bankrupt and now discredited “philosophy” (not to say “doctrine”) is what led to the collapse of the U.S economy. It would be wise to keep this in mind come the next elections. There are still people in office who have learned nothing from the present disaster.

A note to the governor, sent this morning:

Dear Governor Brewer:

I would like to let you know how offensive and small-minded your comments about your predecessor sound. This sort of back-biting and nastiness is exactly the opposite of the leadership our state needs in these difficult times. When I hear you and your colleagues speaking in this way, I can only conclude that none of you have learned a thing from the fiasco your party’s misguided thinking has caused our country. Frankly, it makes you look not too bright.

Please quit it. And let’s show a little humanity and intelligence, instead of vengeful and nasty meanness now that your party is back in power here and can get away with any damnfool thing you like.

State legislators get their way

So, here’s what happens when you gut a state university’s funding:

§ Applications to next year’s freshman class at the Great Desert University are closing.
§ Four dozen academic programs are closing.
§ Each satellite campus will be left with only one college; all other colleges and programs at those campuses, which serve the eastern and western districts of a huge, far-flung metropolitan area, will be closed.
§ The nursing progam will be further reduced (enrollment had already been cut) and moved to the downtown campus.
§ The program for training firefighters will be closed.
§ The clinical laboratory sciences program will be closed.
§ The master’s degree in sports business will be discontinued.

Here’s a summary of other programs that will be canceled at this one university:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Tempe)

• M.S. Kinesiology
• Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)
• Concentrations in Natural Science in
• Life Sciences
• Geology
• Speech and Hearing
• MA Anthropology concentrations in
• Archaeology
• Physical anthropology
• Sociocultural anthropology

Herberger College of the Arts

• Ph.D. in History and Theory of Art


• M.A. Music and Music Theory Concentration
• M.M. Music concentrations in
• Performance (Music Theatre/Opera Directing)
• Music (Performance)
• Performance (Music Theatre Performance)
• Performance (Music Theatre Musical Director)
• Music Ed (Jazz Studies)
– Music Artist Diploma


•  MFA Theatre concentration in Scenography

Mary Lou Fulton College of Education

• Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction
• Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction
• Physical Education
• Ed. D. in Adult Education
• M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction
• Communication Art
• Professional Studies

College of Teacher Education and Leadership

• M. Ed. Education Administration & Supervision concentration inEducation Entrepreneurship

College of Technology & Innovation

• Computing Studies
• M.S. Tech. concentration in Computer Systems
• Electronic Systems
• M.S. Tech.
Electrical Engineering Technology concentrations in
• Instrument and Measurement Technology *
• Microelectronics

Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering Tech

• M.S, Tech Mechanical and Manufacturing Tech concentrations in
• Aeronautical Engineering Technology
• Security Engineering Technology

Information Management Technology]

• M.S. Technology

Technology Management

• M.S. Fire Service Administration
• Undergraduate Certificate in Fire Service Management
• BS in Industrial Technology
• BAS concentration in Materials Joining Manufacturing Technology
• BAS concentration in Fire Service Management
• BAS concentration in Aviation Maintenance Management Technology
• BAS concentration in Digital Media Management
• BAS concentration in Digital Publishing
• BAS concentration in Municipal Operations Management
• BAS concentration in Law Enforcement Management
• BAS concentration in Technical Graphics
*BAS concentration in Computer Systems Administration
• BAS concentration in Cyber Security Applications
• BAS concentration in Software Technology Applications
• BAS concentration in Microcomputer Systems
*BAS concentration in Alternative Energy Technologies
• BAS concentration in Instrumentation
vBAS concentration in Semiconductor Technology

Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness

• B.S. in Agribusiness with concentrations in
• Golf and Facilities Management
• Professional Golf Management

New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

• M.A.I.S. (Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies)
• M.A. in Communication Studies
• M.A. in Social Justice and Human Rights

Now, just between you and me, a few of these programs should have been closed years ago. But most are legitimate professional programs that train workers for decently paying jobs, many of which contribute not just to the state’s economy but also to the welfare and safety of the entire citizenry.

The wacko right-wingers have gotten their way: they’re killing the beast. Let’s just hope the next time the morons who vote for these people need a nurse, a firefighter, an IT specialist, or someone to diagnose and treat their hearing-impaired child, they remember to thank their elected representatives for the result.

Legislators propose to shoot us all in the foot

More scary news from the Great Desert University: Our beloved president sends an announcement that our ever-astonishing legislators yesterday recommended cutting the university systems’ funding by $243 million in what remains of FY 2009 and then by another $388 million in 2010. That is huge: the largest cuts in higher education in the state’s entire history. And this is not a state known for its support of education.

Arizona has only three public universities, and you can count the private institutions of higher education on the fingers of one hand. None of these are exactly world-class institutions. A few departments are excellent: the University of Arizona, for example, has one of the world’s leading astrophysics programs, and Arizona State University has cultivated a good business school and a research emphasis in bioengineering. But by and large the universities reflect the general quality of education in this state, which as we have seen before, is not high. In an Arizona university classroom, it’s possible to guess with some accuracy which students grew up in the Midwestern states where citizens invest in education, simply by observing the students’ basic writing and logical thinking skills. Nine times out of ten, I can identify a kid who came from Ohio, Minnesota, or Iowa just by reading a paper or two.

This is the direct result of Arizona’s chronic underfunding and neglect of education.

“Budget reductions of this magnitude,” says Arizona State University President Michael Crow, “would have a serious and immediate impact on university operations.” The $39 million that had already been cut in the 18 months leading up to FY 2009 have so far resulted in the elimination of almost 500 staff positions and more 200 faculty associates, the dismantling of two schools, and a reduction in the number of nursing students.

Arizona State University serves 67,000 students. It graduates 14,000 a year, and its president claims it pumps $3.2 billion a year into the state’s economy. The planned cuts, Crow reports, will require additional layoffs, furloughs, and reduction of programs that already have enrolled students for 2009.”The fact that the legislature has known about the state budget problems for months and failed to take appropriate and effective action to minimize harm to Arizona’s families and economy is unconscionable,” he adds.

Unconscionable, yes. But surprising or anything new? No. This kind of thing is standard operating practice, historically, for the state’s legislative leadership.

With Governor Janet Napolitano leaving to head up Homeland Security, the state loses its strongest advocate for intelligence and commonsense, one whom our legislators have resisted and fought every step of the way. Her replacement will, according to the state’s constitution, be the present secretary of state, a dim light whose politics and retrograde thinking echo those of the blessedly exiting presidential administration.

Our new governor, heaven help us, is the woman who is responsible for state employees losing all choice in health-care plans: her husband, an executive of a large insurance company, was involved in submitting a bid for the contract to insure state employees that was below the break-even point, so that Blue Cross/Blue Shield, at the time the only decent insurer we had, pulled out in protest of the blatant conflict of interest. For a time, we had just one insurer, the one for which our new governor’s husband worked. This company was so roundly hated by the medical profession that many doctors (including most of mine) would not accept it. If you wanted to go to your doctor, you had to pay in cash and then try to extract the money yourself from the insurer, a process that at best required three to six months. My dermatologist would not let me set foot in his office, even after I said I would pay in cash! To get care from the doctors I knew were reasonably competent,I had to buy my own insurance on the open market. Today the state has to self-insure its employees, thanks to that fiasco.

And she’s pretty typical, this new governor. Remember, this is the state that once elected Evan Mecham, the stupidest holder of elected office in the nation’s history. After Mecham made a laughingstock of Arizona, his predecessor, an affably muddle-headed fellow, looked smart: he was the one who announced that he had never read a book from cover to cover except the Bible and had finished school with a junior college diploma—and he didn’t see why anyone else needed to do anything any different. After all, look how far he’d gone!

That one’s favorite byword was (I kid you not!) “It’s a beautiful day in Arizona. Leave us all enjoy it.”

You can see where all this is going: straight back to the Dark Ages.

So, to personalize, it appears that the danger of a layoff where I’m concerned is still very real and very immediate. The university’s administrators are already firing library staff, and I’m sure they soon will move beyond that.

Related Posts:
The Devastation of Higher Education in Arizona
The Perqs of Penny-Pinching

LOL! Georgie, we’ll miss ya!

Did you hear our soon-to-be-former President’s farewell press conference? I thought the high point came when he remarked that the press had “misunderestimated” him. {snark!} The man just can’t leave bad enough alone.

Another excellent moment arrived when he observed that he came into the presidency in a recession and is leaving it in a recession, but in between (like, oh, say the proverbial night bird flying through windows of the lighted beer hall) the economy has thrived. I will refrain from exclaiming Jesus H. Christ. Well, no. I won’t. As I recall, the country had no deficit (in fact, we had a budget surplus) when the Shrub took office, nor was anyone speculating about the onset of a second Great Depression.

What a moron. What a shameful episode in our country’s history. Heaven help us all now.