“Sustainability science. Please!” Yes Virginia, this is your education on amphetamine riches…
Yesterday an environmental science professor at the University of Virginia resigned from the faculty in large part over its unexplained decision to override a faculty vote to bring the world famous and endlessly harassed climate scientist Michael J. Mann back to the department, a person who would know informs Das Krap.
I don’t know much about the professor in question, Amato T. Evan. From the looks of his CV, he’s a bit young to be demonstrating the courage of his convictions like that. But our source tells us Dr. Evan had gotten the impression that the retraction of its offer to Mann had permanently altered the “climate” for climate change research within Jefferson’s Academical Village. After the Dean’s office refused to go forward with Mann’s hire, they’d apparently abandoned the idea of making any senior climate research hires at all.
And little wonder: a new cache of FOIA-ed coup correspondence released the evening before sheds little light on the real motivations behind the putsch itself, but lots on the educational philosophy of one Randal J. Kirk (right) the pharmaceutical billionaire who is the Board of Visitors’ richest member. Kirk has a lot of pull on the board, as you can tell from the abundant sycophancy Rector Dragas’ emails invariably demonstrate toward him. And while I’m sure the guy has nothing personal against climate scientists, it’s clear from the tone of his emails—and a brief tour through his record on education policy in general—he just thinks they’re total losers.
Sustainability science. Please! Here we learn that UVA is stuck in the “status quo” of “BS tolerance” because it doesn’t understand who its “client” is. Because hello, au pairs with advanced degrees in “obscure” BS like “classics” don’t count…
Not that that ever worked anyway. Here we learn what Randal Kirk always knew. Everything education ever achieved is dumb, because in lieu of hoarding and capitalizing upon the valuable intellectual property universities have always historically manufactured, stupid “bureaucrats” would let even stupider professors share it amongst themselves and sometimes even with the public, when obviously if they’d only had the foresight to hire a battalion of patent attorneys our great nation would have totally discovered next generation Lipitor by now.
Always be closing. Although let’s be realistic, college education should probably be replaced with used car sales at this point.
Now, perhaps you are wondering who died and made Randal Kirk the guru of Virginia higher education policy (and the answer to that is “democracy”) but there’s something I haven’t told you: the man has a track record, he’s done it all before. Before he was appointed to the UVA board in 2008, you see, he masterminded a complete makeover of his alma mater, Radford University, in just two years in the rector seat.
Just a couple hours more Appalachian than UVA, Radford is the kind of school R.J. Kirk’s nanny probably grew up thinking of as the destination campus of “rich kids on academic probation.” Little did she know it was on the cusp of becoming a laboratory for such bold and innovative academic restructuring ideas as…
JOHN GALT, BITCHES
Who (among rich guys) hasn’t had the thought, “My gosh if there is one thing we could really use more of in America it is capitalism!” Well, in September 2008—such a triumphant moment in the history of free markets—Randal Kirk’s Radford introduced a new BB&T Bank-endowed program in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, with President Penelope Kyle even quipping that Kirk would make the program’s ideal guest speaker—”because no one supports capitalism more than our own R.J.!” Another thing Kirk and BB&T Bank supported: a proper etiquette curriculum. But free markets as we all know are about much more than learning to deify and ingratiate oneself to rich people: Kirk’s big plan was a massive tuition deregulation.
“We sell a lot of different products here,” Kirk said. There are clearly two things wrong with those products’ pricing, Kirk said. Some majors — he mentioned dance and art — don’t cost as much to teach as others. Because dancers pay the same tuition as chemistry students, dancers are subsidizing scientists’ education. And some of the majors being subsidized don’t need the subsidy, Kirk said. He thinks people are willing to pay more for them.
CUT OFF THE DEAD WEIGHT PARASITES, BITCHES
Everyone knows the biggest obstacle to education is professors. So first thing they did was try to send anyone with tenure into early retirement. It didn’t go over too well, so then it was on to plan B: force professors to “justify” all the “underperforming” majors they were teaching. In March 2009 12 department heads were given two weeks to make the case for why they shouldn’t be shut down altogehter. They were
Anthropology, chemistry, dance, foods and nutrition, foreign languages, geography, geology, mathematics, philosophy and religious studies, physics, sociology, theater
And obviously who needs languages or math, but the primadonnas over in physics went nuclear
Throughout the EPR process Physics, and presumably other programs, discovered many errors and problems with the way we were reviewed. While individual errors might be construed as simple mistakes and explained away, we believe that the large number of these problems indicates a pattern of deceit on the part of the administration to do what they want without the appearance of impropriety.
The headscratcher here goes back to Kirk’s baby Vyvanse, the big pharmaceutical innovation that netted his net worth its tenth zero. Generically known as lisdexamphetamine, Vyvanse is what you get when you combine dextroamphetamine—best known as Dexedrine, its first patent expired sometime around the Korean War I believe—and an amino acid called lysine, which apparently works like a molecular form of “time release”, meaning you can’t shoot it up. (On this basis it is touted as being resistant to “abuse” because it’s only drug abuse if people notice your trackmarks.) Anyway, that business model sounded like “chemistry” to me but what do I know. I mean, why would Randal Kirk slay the science behind his golden uppers? So I looked up some of Kirk’s big patents, and sure enough, all the science guys whose names appear on them—Travis Mickle and Tom Piccariello and so forth—seem to have gotten doctorates in chemistry.
Kirk also ushered in a $15.78 million renovation of Radford’s main athletic facility and a 23% single year increase in the athletic budget—despite having lost $16.9 million on athletics between 2004 and 2006. But hello, math is so obsolete. (See above.) Anyways, as the athletics director at Virginia Tech points out:
“There’s not a chemistry page in the newspaper. There’s not a mechanical engineering page. There’s not an architectural page. But there’s a sports page.”
Now, Randal Kirk did not do all this by himself. He had a very highly remunerated change agent in Penelope Kyle, who ran the Virginia Lottery before she assumed the Radford. And don’t think he didn’t have naysayers. Board member Robert Blake had the audacity to tell the finance chairman of the endowment about a plan to increase Kyle’s bonus, forcing Kirk to threaten to have him arrested and/or investigated by the state attorney general; Blake finally resigned. And there was this parasite “reporter” at the Roanoke Times who kept writing stories about everything he was doing; that guy had to be disappeared. But the so-called professor who blasphemed Ayn Rand as “philosophical trash” in the newspaper: looks like that guy is still there.
You can’t win em all, no one needs to “educate” Billionaire Randal J. Kirk about this. But mark my words Virginia (and Teresa, and the “atmosphere” etc. etc.): guys like him never. stop. winning.