Robert Zimmer, Eldo Kim, And Our Elite Universities
|by Eleanor Lane|
File under: Fake Culture18 Dec 2013 13:42 EST
We have great news coming from one of our most respected institutions of higher learning, The University of Chicago, former stomping ground of none other than Barack Obama. Robert Zimmer, president of the University, presumably an academic by trade, a mathematician, no less, took home a paycheck of over three million dollars in 2011:
So apparently the compensation structure includes 'bonus pay', presumably benchmarked on the executive's ability to market the school as the home of high profile political celebrities:
For those of you unfamiliar with the kissing rock...
And there you have it. Just remember, prospective applicants, in spite of all the media hype, the $60,000 price tag, and the pyramidal, rip-off administration, the University is still all about the highest mental pursuits.
So says the school that gave us the incredibly absurd mental picture of the three million dollar a year mathematician. No more romantic poverty, detached struggles over coffee-stained proofs, or isolation from an uncomprehending society in that profession, no sir. If you play your cards right, work your way into administration, a career as an academic mathematician might turn out more lucrative than one in the oil industry.
But the University still needs that image of the free spirited intellectual to inspire people, and to maintain its stature as an institution to be respected. We read about Robert Zimmer, but we imagine that such places are staffed by people like Paul Erdős...
A profile of two mathematicians: one can only live the way he does by pretending to foster the spirit of the other. And suffice it to say that none of this mercurial, curious spirit survives in these institutions- how could it? Robert Zimmer is the aspirational model, and we're willing to bet he wouldn't have time for Erdős if he came knocking on his door...
But if the administration consists of a bunch of fakers, what of the students at these top schools? What is left for them? We skip on over to the east coast and Harvard University, for the story of Eldo Kim...
He has his supporters among the Harvard student body...
Look for more of these kinds of Dostoyevskian incidents at elite schools, where you have many people of great intelligence living and working within in a structure that forbids they apply this intelligence in any meaningful way.
Doing so would mean questioning why they are going into massive debt to a mathematician and degrees signed in his name. At least you can live off the junk you buy from a credit card company.
And besides, maybe they really don't care, and are in it for the ideas irrespective of the cost. We all know that academics are idealists willing to suffer poverty, right?
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