The State of the University

Good afternoon and I’d like to thank everyone for attending this State of the University address. I’m sorry it’s going to be a little ragged but I kind of have to patch up the parts where the Public Relations department told me I couldn’t use words like that in public. I think they’re being a little … well, I mean, we all use words like that sometimes, right? Well. Anyway.

As anyone who’s walked through the deserted wings of the main quadrangle or “quad” as I’m told by informed people who’ve met students tell me they call it knows, we have suffered an under-enrollment problem in the past few years, affecting our ability to fill such levée-en-masse courses as Grueling Calculus and the basic Great Works Of Agonizingly Boring Literature Or Maybe Movies. This isn’t just a problem at our school, so please stop writing us about it. We have taken several pro-active steps to improve population. Even as we speak we have an unmarked van driving slowly around Ann Arbor, and when they locate people who seem to be about the right age for college they swoop down with the giant nets and bring the prospective students back here where they’re to remain until completing at least five years or study or accumulating $185,000 in student loan obligations.

The first several attempts for this new plan have been a little disappointing, owing to unusually large holes in the nets, but as this new revenue stream comes up to speed we hope to be able to afford patching some of them and creating what they call a “virtuous circle” of improved student body acquisition. Ah, so that probably answers the question a lot of faculty have been asking me about why some of the students have long ropes tied to their ankles.

Our facilities enhancement plan is nearing its completion. I know many people have been bothered by their renovated offices and the new rules about where desks may be placed, and how open windows may be, and what parts of the bookshelves can be given over to books versus the parts given over to old and forgotten exams, and the rule about how old an exam can be before it’s put on the shelf to be forgotten has gotten a lot of blowback. Well, we’ve heard all of the complaining about the standardizing of faculty work spaces and I’m happy to say that we’ve decided to achieve a further streamlining by standardizing everyone on having one of four officially approved faculty names. While there’ll be some unpleasantness during the transition we’re all certain that the benefits of streamlining and mass production that will accrue will speak well to the university’s mission in future years.

In the interests of fairness and this administrative efficiency, over the next two years all the faculty will be renamed according to seniority as “Marilyn Smith”, “R James Flesner”, “Marilyn … uh … Smith” (no, yes, that’s what it says there), or “Daniel `Dan’ Voiture”. We began installing new nameplates … at the start of this state of the university address and no you may not have the old. Also, you’ll no longer be allowed to bring tape, masking or otherwise, in as we’ve found in a pilot program over in the School of Pharmacy that we forgot we had until we opened the new School of Pharmacy a risk of people using that to tape things to their walls or over their new administratively efficient nameplates.

In these challenging times we have to make bold decisions to carry out our four core competence focus missions of keeping a close watch on our students and their needs, promoting our world-class research mission, and the circumpolar invasion of Russia this winter. Um. I’m sorry, we didn’t really finish discussion about that so please don’t tell anyone.

To summarize, I think it mete now to quote the late President John … Fitzsimmons? … Kennedy, who said something to the effect that he remembered a stirring quote from … Alexander … Lincoln about how change is life and we won’t find what we need for the changing life by looking to and studying the past. Thank you.

[ Two hours later the university president was found, shins severely kicked, behind the Departments of History, Time Travel, and Archeology. ]

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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