Whenever I go to local restaurants, I always try to strike up a conversation with the server. Since I live in Minneapolis, many of them are students at our numerous colleges and universities. Having worked at a restaurant while in college, I have a lot of empathy for these folks.
Sometimes I get a big surprise. This happened recently with a server who attended MCAD—the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. When he learned that I did some polymer chemistry, he asked if I knew about the male contraceptive system, being developed in India, that was polymer based. Never heard of it. One of my colleagues, the medicinal chemist Gunda Georg, has been working in this area for some time, so I try to follow the topic. Of course, it is a very important one.
Used with permission of U of Minnesota Bioethics Center
I didn’t want to attend this conference because I knew that it would be difficult and painful. Like having your wisdom teeth pulled without anesthesia.
As my colleague, bioethicist Carl Elliot, put it: “Only 16 percent of academic health centers in this country will pay the medical bills for research subjects who are injured in clinical trials. None will pay for lost wages and suffering. And an ethicist is arguing that we all have a duty to sign up for these trials? Give me a break.”
But Carl was not able to attend this conference and I knew that Mary Weiss, the mother of Dan Markingson, would be there. Her son died in connection with a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota that has become notorious. I wanted to offer moral…
Atomic model of Ag-Al quasicrystal - Wikimedia Commons
People who work with crystals have received an inordinate number of Nobel Prizes. Some of them receive the prize because of the importance of the compounds they have worked on. Protein crystallographers have helped to unravel the mysteries of such things as photosynthesis and how hemoglobin transports oxygen. The Protein Data Bank (PDB) is a treasure trove of interesting and useful results from crystallographic experiments. The prize has also been awarded to people who have invented new methods for the determination of structures from crystallographic data.
Usually, like most scientists, I read the news reports of the science prizes and try to understand what the winners did and why it is important. In this particular case, I saw most of the a…
Jacque Plante Mask - Hockey Hall of Fame credit: Wiki Media Commons
The FIRE has an interesting post on the latest developments in the Garcetti situation. Briefly, a number of cases are bubbling up toward the Supreme Court that concern the limits of academic freedom in public universities as a result of the Garcetti v. Ceballosdecision. My non-lawyerly interpretation of the decision is that the Court ruled that an attorney, who criticized a warrant, had no First Amendment free-speech protection in doing so, since he made these statements as a public employee.
This logic has been the basis of a number of decisions at the appellate level where the applicability to free speech in public universities has been uneven as outlined in the FIRE piece.
Dombey and Son “As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back”
Mr. Keillor frequents the Side Track Tap, but there is another place in town, the Birchwood Cafe. It is inhabited by a bunch of lefties, elderly hippies like me, vegans, people with nose-rings and purple hair. You know, that type. They buy food locally and hate Monsanto.
So this morning there was much discussion at the ‘Birch over Mrs. Bachmann’s disembowelment of Mr. Pawlenty, our beloved former governor. Some even felt sorry for TeaPaw but there was a great deal of Schadenfreude. It was the coffee special of the morning.
Yuh see, TeaPaw was the victim of really bad timing. He had cultivated his garden in Iowa for the last two years much to the annoyance of people who wanted him to show some leadership in fixing our budgetary problems in Minnesota. He left us about six billion dollars in the hole. …
Credit Wikimedia: Adam and Eve - Lucas Cranach The Elder (1528)
[Added later: I've been informed by a University of Minnesota Public Relations Manager that the figure used in the original post, $250,000 was only $50,ooo. This reminds me of an old joke.]
Those ethically challenged folks at the University of Minnesota are at it again… A couple of years ago we had a dean who served on the Pepsi board even though it seemed a little incongruous for a med school dean to be involved with a company that made products that rotted children’s teeth. But of course we were assured by the Vice President of the Academic Health Center that this conflict had been declared manageable. Then we had the spectacle of a different dean pointing out that after all what was happening with respect to conflict of interest…
As most readers may know by now, the State of Minnesota has been shut down since July 1 due to a failure to agree on a new budget. The GOP has been infected by a faction of “no new taxers.” These folks propose a budget in which the deficit will be made up by cuts, rather than taxes or new revenues. They object to their position being described as “all cuts,” despite the fact that it is.
Why this stubbornness? I discovered, and then tweeted furiously, that 37 of our legislators had signed the infamous Grover Norquist pledge—they absolutely, positively, will not agree to tax-revenue increases under any circumstances. Recall that Grover is the drown-the-baby-in-the-bathtub dude.
In today’s Star-Tribune, Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College’s president, had the …
The screen shots are from online forms provided by the University of Minnesota and the University of North Carolina through the College Board net price calculator. These results were obtained by entering data in forms provided by both universities to estimate the actual cost of attendance, as well as debt load. If you’d like to try it yourself, go here and sign in as “guest.” Then fill out the forms for these colleges making sure the so called AGI is zero, so that the student/parents are absolutely unable to contribute to the cost of education.
The resulting net cost at Minnesota is $11,268 and the student/parent is expected to borrow $8,600 per year for a staggering four-year debt of $34,400. Contrast this to the situation at the University of North Carolina, where a student with the same financial resources would see a net cost of $2,700 with loans of ZERO to the…
Choirboy Defense: Could these lads do anything wrong? (Wikimedia)
Something remarkable has happened. A whole issue—June—of a prominent journal, The Spine Journal, is devoted to destroying industry-funded research supporting the use of a bio-therapeutic agent for spinal fusion, so-called recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein form 2 (rhBMP-2) in the Medtronic product, Infuse.
This remarkable issue features an editorial that is available for download as a pdf: “A challenge to integrity in spine publications: years of living dangerously with the promotion of bone growth factors.” It initially cites seven research publications for scrutiny. Altogether these studies report zero, nada, side effects in 780 protocol patients. The authors dryly add another citation (from Hemingway’s The Sun Also …
Our state legislature has been taken over by the crazies. Most of the damage has been averted by an adult governor, but nevertheless they have managed to come up with ways to get around his good sense and veto. Putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot only takes a simple majority, which they have. They do not, thank God, have enough votes to override the governor’s veto. However, the constitutional amendment route can still be used to damaging effect. Case in point, they have passed a bill to put what is effectively an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot for 2012.
Their bet is that homophobia will overcome good sense in Minnesota. Events in New York make me hopeful that they will lose this bet. Minnesotans seem to be finally realizing that gay marriage is not a threat and is essentially a matter of human rights….
What particularly disturbed me about this situation was the posing of a question by the General Counsel that seemed both chilling and aimed at Dr. Carl Elliot, the bioethics professor who has helped to keep this issue alive at Minnesota. Thus General Counsel Rotenberg posed a question to the Faculty…
Q: What is the difference between a student procuring a ghostwritten paper and a faculty member doing the same?
A: In the first case the student pays, in the second the faculty member may be paid—sometimes a considerable sum.
Although much has been written about students—and professors—plagiarizing, there is an interesting and ongoing variation on plagiarism that is lucrative and in some cases of financial benefit to the plagiarist.
Ghostwriters are uncredited authors and often charge a fee for this service to people like politicians who need to pump out a book before election time to demonstrate their deep minds. The ghostwriter may be acknowledged for help with editorial assistance or not even mentioned.
For some time there has been a continuing scandal over ghostwriting by pharmaceutical companies. In essence a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) is offered the…
As mentioned last post, there are some events at Minnesota that seem to have consequences of more than local interest.
Over the weekend, Mr. Steve Sviggum, one of the newest members of our board of regents, resigned his teaching position at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute, so that he could continue to serve on the university’s board.
Mr. Sviggum has a history as a partisan member of the GOP and is serving as a lightning rod for the now politically polarized state of Minnesota. He is a former Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representative. He has also been doing some teaching at the Humphrey Institute for the past few years and I have heard nothing but enthusiasm for the work he does there. Sviggum has a B.A. from St. Olaf (in math) and has been both a…
I’ve been suffering from post- and continuing- traumatic shock syndrome. In the hinterlands, Minnesota is right next to Wisconsin. And no, I am not trying to be patronizing, many times I’ve been told accompanied by a quizzical look:”Minnesota—that’s up by Canada, right?” Garrison Keillor has gotten rich with his Norwegian bachelor farmer routines as well as making fun of my beloved Unitarians.
Minnesotans are supposed to hate cheese heads, but I have never felt that way. Madison is a wonderful city, as is Milwaukee with the Calatrava art museum, and Spring Green with Taliesen and American Repertory Theater founded by Guthrie refugee Randall Duk-Kim. I have a sneaking admiration for the University of Wisconsin at Madison because they seem to run over Minnesota academically and in…
There are further consequences of corporatization that Jennifer Washburn has examined in her superb article in Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors.
In summary, she writes:
“Commercial threats on campus have mounted—from industry control of research and corporate ghostwriting to restrictive sponsored-research agreements and intellectual property deals that place profits ahead of public health.”
These threats to academic freedom should cause us to reconsider the meaning of the phrase academic freedom and to understand that similar threats led to the formation of the AAUP in 1915. Powerful corporate interests and wealthy donors wielded undue …
Whenever I see another August Wilson play featured at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater, I always smile.
It was not always so. For 12 years one of the Guthrie’s former directors, Garland Wright refused to admit Wilson to the Minneapolis pantheon. As the Star-Tribune put it:
“[Wright] was loath to have Wilson’s words on the Guthrie stage on the premise that the theater was devoted to classics (never mind that the Guthrie also staged such contemporary playwrights as Arthur Miller and David Hare).”
Meanwhile Wilson’s plays were taken to places like the Yale Rep for performance. Wilson’s plays have appeared on Broadway with heavy hitters like James Earl Jones. Not that the Penumbra artists are light hitters: James Craven, T. Mychael Rambo, Abdul Salaam El Razzac… The names trip off the tongue like those of an all-star professional team.
Dr. Frank Cerra, former Vice President, University of Minnesota Academic Health Center and Medical School Dean
Dr. Aaron Friedman, Vice President, University of Minesota Academic Health Center and Medical School Dean
In a February 4, 2011 blog post-turned-editorial, University of Minnesota associate professor Bill Gleason openly questions why a University with an evidence-based medical school would dedicate resources to a Center for Spirituality & Healing (CSH).
We thought that was an excellent question, so are pleased to have an opportunity to respond.
The Center for Spirituality & Healing was established in 1995 during a period of time when medicine and the health professions…
“In the 1930s, the FSA employed several photographers to document the effects of the Great Depression on the population of America. [Dorothea] Lange’s image of a migrant pea picker, Florence Owens Thompson, and her family has become an icon of resilience in the face of adversity.”
In a comment on an earlier post about online higher education, I used the phrase “poor white trash” to describe one opinion on this pedagogical method as first applied by Professor Margaret Soltan at George Washington University. For those unaware of her excellent blog, University Diaries, I plug it.
I contacted Soltan for further clarification of her use of the phrase. She graciously replied, with permission to quote:
First, as to the phrase: It seems to have become quite mainstreamed — there’s a best-selling White Trash Cookbook, etc. — so while it’s certainly…