Tonight’s Actual Wisdom offers sage advice on the relative values of cheeses, more weird clubs professors are part of, and the sinister side of artichokes.
1. Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer.
I exist to help undergraduates acquire a credential that this society seems to value.
2. Your claim to fame (what makes you special?):
That I’m the unique Columbia member of the Board of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies?
3. What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience?
Learning how to turn artichoke leaves into deadly weapons. (I went to college in California, and we were only 50 miles from Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world, so artichokes appeared on dining hall menus a bit more frequently than they do here.)
4. What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard?
Actually, they’re all the same. No point in trying to rank them; at the end of the day, deaths, tropical diseases, delayed planes, earthquakes, what have you, all meld into one giant “is there any way I can get an extension?”
5. Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
Oral sex or cheese is not much of a question. Tenure or cheese, on the other hand, poses real issues. I suppose it all depends on what kind of cheese is up for grabs. Stilton, for example, would give tenure a real run for the money. Jarlsberg wouldn’t stand a chance.
6. Back in my day…
We could smoke in Butler.
7. Three things you learned at Columbia:
I thought I taught myself virtually all of what I know—at least looking back on my graduate school days here it seems that way. True, I learned that bow ties were not for me (even if both Richard Hofstadter and David Potter favored them, not to mention my mentor, the late Eric McKitrick). The same could be said of cigars.
8. What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general?
No mixed metaphors.
Herbert Sloan via www.barnard.edu