Need employee productivity? Chain ’em to the desk!

March 18, 2008

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I usually don’t poke fun at the academic world. I have to live here, you know. But this week I found a case study that’s amusing, and instructional from a PR perspective. The setting is the University of Akron, just 14 miles from home, so there’s a local angle, too.

Update #1: I’ve added the spoof ad above. It’s been making the rounds among UA faculty for the past few weeks, I’m told. Also, here is the local coverage from ABJ 3/22/08.

Update #2: A popular local columnist weighed in this morning in an essay that — get this — he wrote from home.  It won’t tell you anything you don’t know, except that Dr. Darchame’s nickname is “Dewey.”  It will confirm that he is an outstanding performer, respected by students and faculty — everyone, it seems, but his dean. One of Dewey’s colleagues sent me a copy of his last performance review (at state institutions, these documents are public record).  Number of philosophy majors doubled on his watch, number of minors quadrupled.  This led UA to add two tenure track faculty lines to serve the demand.  Meantime, UA remains unwilling to discuss reasons for his dismissal as chair.  I’d chalk it up to “CD Syndrome” (Clueless Dean). 3/27/08.

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If you accept the facts as reported in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, the chair of Akron’s philosophy department was fired from his administrative post for being away from his desk without the dean’s blessing. (Story available only to subscribers. Email and I’ll send a copy.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Some days the events write the posts for you…

January 22, 2008

Can’t resist commenting on some of today’s more obscure news stories. There’s a good chance you missed them, too.

images3.jpgCronyism in West Virginia? Pshaw! No one knows for sure if Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter actually attended classes en route to her executive MBA at WVU. But plenty of students enrolled with Heather Bresch say she was a phantom student.

I’ve been following this scandal since last fall, when an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette concluded that Bresch completed fewer than half of her required courses. WVU is calling it a recordkeeping snafu. Today the New York Times is on the case, which means the university’s PR problem just got bigger.

The backstory here is complicated but really juicy. In addition to being the governor’s daughter, 38-year-old Bresch is an executive with pharmaceutical giant Mylan, Inc., whose chairman, Mylan Pushar, donated $20 million to WVU back in 2003. But that’s not all. Seems that WVU Prez Mike Garrison, hired in 2006, is a high-school chum of Bresch’s and friend of the Manchin family. Some say the search process was rigged in favor of Garrison.

Of course, none of this would matter if the No. 2 Mountaineers had beaten Pittsburgh in the last game of the regular season. I suspect a trip to the BCS championship game would have healed a lot of wounds in and around Morgantown. Let’s all hum a few bars, OK … “Almost heaven…” Read the rest of this entry »


Roll out the rainbow carpet — It’s gonna be a gay old time in Akron, Ohio!

July 16, 2007

images-1.jpgNever thought I’d see the day. I mean, this is Ohio, ya know.

This is the state whose Religious Right put W back in the White House. The state that has recurring debates over the teaching of “intelligent design” (aka, the Book of Genesis) in our science classes. Doh!

We’re also the state in which progressive universities like my own continue to images-2.jpgdeny benefits to domestic partners of employees, fearful of being bitch slapped by our intolerant legislators.

So imagine my surprise at learning that our local metropolis, Akron, is launching a promotional campaign to attract gay tourists to the city (link expires 7/22). While this campaign would hardly raise an eyebrow in more progressive locales, here in Ohio it’s radical social engineering. And not surprisingly, it’s the lead story in the local newspaper today. Read the rest of this entry »