Literally My Greatest Victory As A Journalist Ever

I have been writing higher-education columns for Slate for just under a year. In that year, I have tried more times than I am willing to admit to get in a jab at St. Ronald of the Reagan, avowed racist, geopolitical jackass, and one of the main reasons that the public higher-education system in the United States is the nearly-unfunded mess that it is. I have never, until this blessed day, been able to sneak one of those Reagan jabs in. Today, friends, is my day.

My latest article is on the furor surrounding the appointment of John Thrasher as new president of Florida State. The gimmick of the article is that I am a fat, frumpy Olivia Pope out to rehabilitate the man’s thrashed image in the wake of the dubious circumstances surrounding his hire. But I also got in quite a lot of substantive critique of university administration today, and the misguided emphasis on private fundraising as a replacement for public support (hint: it’s a terrible one). And, of course, a Reagan jab. A REAGAN JAB. THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE.

Here’s a taste (for the Reagan jab you’ll have to read the whole thing):

The private fundraising model is an unfortunate result of the consistent decrease in public funds for higher education—and it seems to fall far short of what universities actually need. Perhaps instead of capitulating to that model, the next generation of presidents should come up with an alternative. Thrasher was hired precisely becauseof his political influence and acumen. So if he really cared about the Florida state system of higher education, he would be using that acumen to persuade the legislature and the voters to return public education to the hands of the public (yes, that means taxes, egad), not to raise a comparatively paltry sum that can be (and often is) earmarked for luxurious building renovations and better skyboxes at the football stadium.

Hooray! I mean, not for the realities the piece describes, but for me getting to write about this important issue, which I am so grateful I got to do.

10 thoughts on “Literally My Greatest Victory As A Journalist Ever

  1. More like this, please! (I write this as someone who thinks that most of the things you attack are actually epiphenomena of legislatures, boards of regents, and administrations starving the humanities of funding.)


      • Reagan jabs are great for those of us self-congratulatory Prius-driving, brie-eating liberal professors who hang out in the faculty lounge thinking about ways to teach young Americans to forsake capitalism and the Triune God. 😀

        In all seriousness, though, any and every article and op-ed explaining the degree to which legislatures have been starving their university systems and forcing them to go hat in hand to donors is really useful in letting folks on the outside know the score.


      • Assistant Professor is exactly right! More Ray-gun jabs! And also, state legislators who think that cutting taxes, decreasing support for public works and the public goods need jabs, too. Hard jabs with sharp implements.


  2. I once had a letter printed in the ny times that dissed GWB ( still in office at the time) for a comment he made on testing, so I understand your glee!


  3. I appreciate the Ronald Reagan jab (and I think we are all beginning to see how clearly income inequality has come directly from his tenure.) But greatest victory as a journalist? You write really great, insightful stuff, and I would say most of it far surpasses your brief jab. (At least in content, if not satisfaction.) I left academia to enter community practice so that I could actually spend time teaching medical students and you reinforce every day that I made the right move. Keep going!


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