Sunday, January 15, 2006

Back Into the Pot

William E. Cooper has left the presidency of the University of Richmond among mounting criticism over his conduct, specifically over a comment he made in October.

"The remark that set off the furor came in a 'state of the university' address in which he talked about the need to recruit talented students. “The entering quality of our student body needs to be much higher if we are going to transform bright minds into great achievers instead of transforming mush into mush,” Cooper said."

So, instead of debating whether or not that is indeed the situation at Richmond (quite likely. It was thought to be when I was an undergrad at W&M down the street), a group of alumni started a campaign to get Cooper fired, which worked. The horrible simple-mindedness of the campaign, which would seem to prove Cooper's point, could be easily mistaken for righteous willfulness, if it wasn't aimed at piling on and taking him down, those highest of aspirations for this generation. Better to drag the other lobsters back into the pot than try to climb out yourself.

"Much of the criticism extended beyond “mush” alone to broader questions about Richmond’s mission. Cooper pushed for tougher admissions standards, higher tuition, a more national student body, and a shift to an athletic conference where sports scholarships are not awarded. These ideas appealed to some faculty members and alumni, and Cooper was able to point to progress both in fund raising and in academics. Last year, for the first time in 50 years, a Richmond student was named a Rhodes Scholar. But Cooper’s ambitions upset many others..."

The widespread resistance against being held to any sort of standard is just incredible, isn't it?

26 comments:

Hiromi said...

Carlton, there's some kind of problem with your Dalrymple entry - if you click on "comments," there's a URL Not Found error.

Anyway, this comment is about yesterday's post.

"I am overwhelmed by a sense of the unfitness for life of all the participants in these sordid dramas: their main problem was that they had not the faintest idea how to live and yet - this is the hallmark of modernity - they were plentifully supplied with ego."

Great quote, but do you really think this is a modern characteristic? It seems to me that people have never been really good at self-reflection, and always very good at self-justification.

Rufus said...

I'm not sure what the tech problem is. I'm pretty bad with that.

The quote was actually Dalyrimple's and I have some questions about it myself. Actually, reading over it again, I'm not sure that I agree at all with his idea in there that there's some sort of "bohemianism" behind crime.

I posted the section from his article because I think it's interesting, but I guess he and I would disagree with that. And yet, he is the social worker, and I'm just a lowly TA.

The Pagan Temple said...

If Cooper really wanted to start a firestorm of controvrsy, he could ahve simply pointed out that it would be awful hard for universities to keep from turning out mush when a great lot of what is churned out of high schools is much to start out with.

Rufus said...

Right, and that's the problem. Most students, sadly, don't improve much during university. So, even if universities want to limit their enrollment to "the best of the best", they're still going to get pretty shoddy goods.

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