Faithful readers may recall how I regard INRU's periodic attempts to convince me that, without my "generous financial contribution," the institution will totter into immediate poverty and/or a lower slot in the U.S. News rankings. However, when I'm solicited as an alumna of INRU college, at least I understand why: many of my classmates are indeed making the big bucks, and we also tend, as a group, toward irrational nostalgia and institutional chauvinism.
Today, however, I received a solicitation from the dean of INRU's graduate school. It opened by conjuring up the inspirational sight of this year's crop of new graduate students at their matriculation ceremony, and. . . well, actually, that's where the dean lost me.
The matriculation ceremony? I'm supposed to feel a rush of nostalgia at that memory? (Or any memory from graduate school?)
I read an essay in the Chronicle a few years back where the author asserted that there was no one he knew who had gone to graduate school in the past 25 years who hadn't left feeling brutalized, and that pretty much matches my own experience. Were there good and even great things about my years in grad school? Well yes: there were a few. But were they things that I associate with the institution itself and its management of my education, teaching assignments, salary, et cetera? Fuck no.
More to the point, it's former graduate students--a group of people not known for its deep pockets--whom INRU is asking to send money. Sure, a few alumni may be biotech start-up millionaires or highly placed policy wonks, but that must be a small minority, and even those alumni are likely to feel more allegiance to their undergraduate alma maters than to the place where they received their MAs or PhDs.
Also: don't most of the graduate school's alumni probably work at institutions of higher education? And don't most of those institutions probably have--I'm just speculating here--vastly smaller endowments, operating budgets, and faculty salaries than INRU? So when I'm told that, without my contribution, INRU won't be able to continue offering competitive tuition and stipend packages to its incoming graduate students--well, I'm pretty much obliged to tell the dean to fuck right off.
Really, though, I wouldn't have given the letter a second glance had not something in the first paragraph jumped out at me: in the middle of describing that affecting scene at the matriculation ceremony, Dr. Dean writes that the sight renews feelings of inspiration "in returning students and faculty AND THE WONDER OF LEARNING."
Yes, that last phrase is all in caps--on his lovely, deanly letterhead (what did he think he was writing, a blog post?). And no, it doesn't make grammatical sense.
But you know, if this is who's running the institution these days. . . maybe I should write that cheque after all.