Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Defining Monomania 

A couple of years ago I made a bet with a friend who was still attempting to defend President Saigo's competence: I told him I'd buy hm the best steak in town when he could show me any evidence whatsoever that Saigo understood any issues -- intellectual, social, cultural, philosophical -- pertinent to contemporary higher education other than race. I've seen nothing in Saigo's years here that didn't involve race. So far I haven't had to pay up.
Then yesterday I thought for a moment I'd lost my bet. Saigo posted a letter to the faculty on the Columbia tragedy. He said the natural, appropriate things about this terrible event in a good letter. But then he added this: "Tom Wolfe�s book-turned-movie, �The Right Stuff,� dramatized the elite qualities of the first Mercury astronauts. How different from that original seven this Columbia crew of women and men looked. In a generation we have broadened this conception and opened opportunities for many to develop their splendid talents and strive for heroic achievements."
Even this tragedy he had to bring race in. He quite simply has shown no capability to understand any of the functions of higher education nor the issues concerning it other than his one pet issue. Our poor university has been badly served for a long time by administrations significantly weaker than either our good faculty or excellent students deserve, and Saigo continues that weary tradition.