The Rotunda and the Lawn

The Rotunda and the Lawn

Originally uploaded by SCholewiak.

When I was blogging about UVa the other day I remembered that not everyone has a good visual memory (‘visual learners’ my foot). Google images didn’t turn up what I wanted, but a flickr search did. This is from Steve Cholewiak, who kindly agreed to let me upload it to the blog. Click and see his other photos, especially his amazing high definition range photos of a clock tower at Purdue! Ain’t the internet great?

Harvard Spends some endowment on financial aid and gets applications

Harvard’s shift in aid policy seems to be paying off – though I’d really like to see a breakdown on that 26% — how many are eligible to attend free of charge? Recruiting a really sizable percentage of your class from families that make less than $60,000 per year would be a more radical move at Harvard than race-based affirmative action. Clearly the percentage is less than 26% – some percentage of families make between 60-80K. Another interesting thing to see will be the yield – the percentage of students who decide to show up in the fall. Will that shift?

March 29 (Bloomberg) — Harvard College rejected 91 percent of applicants for the coming academic year, the highest rate in the school’s history, after an expansion of financial aid encouraged more students to seek admission.
A record 22,955 students applied to be part of the incoming freshman class at the college, the part of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university focusing on undergraduate education. The school sent out 2,058 acceptance notices in December and today, according to a statement posted on its Web site.
Harvard, which has the largest endowment in the U.S. at $29.2 billion, increased financial aid for the school year starting in September to allow students from families earning less than $60,000 to attend free of charge. Undergraduate tuition, room and board and other mandatory fees will rise to $45,620 for the year.
“The new Harvard financial aid initiative continues to send a clear and unambiguous message that Harvard welcomes students of excellence regardless of their financial need,” said William Fitzsimmons, dean of admission and financial aid.
About 26 percent of the incoming class is eligible to attend free of charge or at a reduced cost offered to students whose families earn $60,000 to $80,000 annually. Harvard increased its financial aid pool to $103 million for the year, the most in the school’s history.

See my posts on Hamilton (no merit awards) and Davidson (no loans in aid packages).

Film Version of Hildegard of Bingen? Hmm.

Google news is wonderful – where else would I come across a story from Variety? Not my usual reading. Trotta tracks back to middle ages / Vet to direct Bingen bio. That means that an experienced director is doing a movie on Hildegard! Here’s the director’s imdb page (or, as Variety calls her, the helmer).
If you don’t know about Hildegard I hardly know where to tell you to start, other than DON’T GOOGLE HER. Goodness knows she’s been poorly served. Maybe the old Catholic Encyclopedia? It’s certainly sound, as far as it goes. There was some very silly stuff done with Hildegard in the 1980s by Matthew Fox, ex-O.P., et al. Part of the problem there is that medieval medicine, in its dependence on classical theory-driven medicine, is a lot like modern new age medicine (or ‘traditional healing’ everywhere). You know – the power of gems to heal, the life force of plants, etc.* An important reason to reject in the Bear & Co. edition of Hildegard’s great Scivias ** (link goes to a better version) is that though the translation was pretty good someone (the publisher? Then-Fr. Matthew?) chose to leave out a lot of chapters. Now I’m the first to agree that there’s nothing duller than most medieval mysticism, and the book is over 400 pages without the material, but it was telling which chapters they left out. You see, they printed a list of those chapter headings in the back. And excluded chapters cover LOTS of things about Sin and Damnation and Judgment that didn’t line up very well with Matthew Fox’s whatever-it-was-he-called-it. Creation Spirituality?
So be cautious using great ones – other ones have piggy-backed on their words.

* the relationship between pre-modern non-Western medicines is much more complicated than that, but lemme tell you – if I don’t get tenure and I want to stay in Upstate New York (though why the 2nd part of that equation would be true I couldn’t tell you) I could make a living in Ithaca selling my knowledge of 4 Humors Healing. “Here, ma’am – give little Johnny leeks for that jitteriness – they’ll cool him down!”
** well, besides the fact that I had to buy my copy at an alternative bookstore and it STILL after all these years smells of patchouli

Ain’t America Great? Bill Clinton’s Reward

“I never had a nickel to my name until I got out of the White House, and now I’m a millionaire, the most favored person for the Washington Republicans,” Clinton told a friendly audience in Kentucky last fall. “I get a tax cut every year, no matter what our needs are.”

Who needs book deals? Clinton has made $40 million in the last 6 years giving speeches.
The link goes to an interesting story in the Washington Post about who hires WJC to talk and how that may or may not be related to HRC’s campaign. Plenty of them aren’t – some of the groups clearly want him for star power – they hire him to fill their charity luncheon $500 seats.
Here’s the list of where, for whom, and how much the Washington Post published.
My bemusement is non-partisan – everyone does this. My bemusement is also constitutional – in the sense that I am not like everyone else (not that anyone really is), but I don’t tick this way. If I were home for the evening and had walked the dog I wouldn’t walk back to campus to hear a speech by any politician, current or former, unless I were specifically invited to the dinner or reception and my absence would be noticed. As a group they and their opinions, especially those of former elected officials, don’t interest me very much – and you can get ’em for free on television.
I came across this story (don’t know how I missed it back in February when it ran) at the 2 Blowhards.

Attack of the Fundraisers – on Jefferson’s Lawn?

Now this is a sign of the long-term change in the University in the West from self-perpetuating educational institution to self-perpetuating fund-raising instrument if nothing else is. One of the Lawn Pavilions at the University of Virginia is about to open up and a non-academic administrator wants it.

A controversy has erupted at the University of Virginia over whether UVa’s top fundraising officer will be allowed to live in one of the Lawn Pavilions, prestigious residences typically reserved for UVa’s best and brightest professors.
“The Lawn is not supposed to be a sales gimmick,” said fourth-year student Allison Murphy, who lives in one of the rooms along the Lawn. “It’s supposed to represent the educational foundation of the university community.”
The controversy stems from the desire of Robert D. Sweeney, UVa’s senior vice president for development and public affairs, to live on the Lawn when Pavilion VI opens up this summer. Because of a little-noticed policy change instituted by UVa’s Board of Visitors last month, President John T. Casteen III has the power to nominate any UVa vice president for a Pavilion slot.
“I think Mr. Sweeney is a good person. But I just don’t see him being around at all to interact with the Lawn community,” Murphy said. “And even if he was, I’m not sure the students would really gain much from that interaction.”
One Pavilion is already filled by a UVa vice president. Patricia Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer, lives in Pavilion III. Murphy said she found that acceptable because Lampkin has a strong link to the student body.
Mike Slaven, another student living on the Lawn, said he thought it would be “inappropriate” for Sweeney to move into a Pavilion.
“I think it’s not just the fact that he’s never taught classes, but the fact that he’s a fundraiser that’s upsetting people,” Slaven said. “As the university relies more heavily on private gifts, some people are uncomfortable with the extent to which the university relies on fundraising and the compromises it is making to get there.”

Of course, it would help the case of the anti-fund-raisers if the occupants really were “UVa’s best and brightest professors” rather than (mainly – see the list at the end of the article) deans of schools, but still – I understand the point.

Here’s a nice photo tour of UVA with pleasant pics of the Lawn.

Here’s a more interesting panoramic photo.

Worth a little wait – Macy Gray

Macy Gray has a new album out! Big! Hot!
Hmmm . . . I’m trying to remember the last time I downloaded something the day it came out. Or bought it physically in the store. So far, on 1st listen, “Finally Made Me Happy” is best.
What a great set of pipes – and back to a slightly more stable-sounding, less crack-induced, range of vocals.

Another English Spinster Surprises Art Journalists

You’d think these people in this late-feminist age would find unmarried art collectors less surprising – but there you go. Here’s a pathologically shy English woman who is leaving her amazing collection of watercolors to the Courtauld in London. Even though the director of the Courtauld had never heard of her it sounds as though the dealer knew her and her mother perfectly well.
Here’s my post about the last shocking woman who liked art and surprised the journalists (and her family). She turned out to be far from a shy spinster once I googled her name – but her nephew was working from a very old-fashioned script for ‘unmarried British women of a certain age.’

Rem Koolhaas library in Seattle – would you WANT to use the building?

Here is an interesting review 3 years on of Rem Koolhaas’s library for downtown Seattle. Here are lots of photographs, models, and diagrams. The reviewer doesn’t deny the helpful publicity of a fancy building or its good looks, but . . . but . . . well.

The Central Library hasn’t stumbled in its iconic mission, not at all. It has energized our urban center more than any building in Seattle’s history. It has launched both the image and substance of the Seattle Public Library into a new era.
Its provocation has infused us with new thinking about the possibilities of architecture and urbanism, far more than the Space Needle and Experience Music Project ever did. The Needle is beautiful and EMP is bizarre, but the Central Library has both of these qualities plus a visible structural integrity that seems almost spiritual. We feel these qualities at gut level when we walk around the building or wander through as sightseers. It’s only when we settle in for a day’s real library work that the design failures suddenly intrude.
A building can be great and still have glaring functional flaws — in fact, great buildings always do. An inspirational space usually works at cross purposes to efficient function, but when it’s overwhelmingly good, its art trumps the shortfall of craft. There’s something missing from the art in this building, and it’s so basic and simple that it can be captured in one word: warmth.

Read the whole article. The author, a serious architectural critic, has taken 3 years to think about the building.

Joy of joys – advisement week!

The biannual month of joy begins – advisement for sophomores and juniors (seniors are graduating – they don’t need any more advice – yay!) this week, first years next week, registration next week and the following week.
Here’s the note I sent my advisees:

Hey, folks –
Here’s my schedule for the week. I am giving you precedence over the first year advisees (they can deal with me next week).
Choose a time and email me back. First come, first serve.
Handy hints:
1. Look at the description of your major and minor (gosh I hope you have one!) in the catalog – what are you missing?
2. Are you going to do a term abroad? How does that change your pacing for major/minor and goals? Is there something you haven’t addressed yet, and do you need to take care of it BEFORE you go abroad?
3. Are you going to do a term abroad? What are the prerequisites and when should you take them? If there is a language pre-req or a specific course for a term abroad spots are usually held for those accepted for the program, but you do have to register for them.
4. Are you doing a term abroad in the Fall? You DO have to register for those courses to be taken abroad!
5. Make a list of 6-8 possible courses with their section number and meeting times. The best way to do this is the trial schedule on the back of the paper version of the Schedule of Courses. PLEASE don’t come to see me without a list of courses. Don’t make our time together a frustrating scramble to find 4 open courses.

I always give them something like a real schedule so they can see that much as I love them they are not the only items on my agenda. For instance, this week I have lunch with 2 job candidates and then 2 consequent job talks to attend. I have classes. I have dog walking to manage. I have a faculty lunch to attend. I have a board meeting. Next week I’ll be reminding the first years that I have a faculty lunch talk to give and that they can’t expect to find me in my office early that afternoon.
Oh, well – let’s pray they all pay attention to my point 5.

Creative Misunderstanding

Working on the paper for this weekend clarified something for me – I think. I think what’s going on in the literary tradition of some French farce death-bed scenes is a creative misunderstanding of a long-established iconography (I hate saying ‘visual iconography,’ but that’s what I mean – the art stuff).
My paper was more or less descriptive – a ‘hey, look at this as an example of The World Turned Upside Down’ kind of job. As I got closer to finished with the paper as it stood I realized that the upside down part was a misunderstanding of the visual material, maybe deliberate maybe not, by the poets.
Now I’ve got to plow back through my Harold Bloom to remember everything I’ve forgotten about the anxiety of influence. Not to mention misreading. I started this life as a comp lit guy – and Bloom really is right (well, as close as humanists get to ‘right’) about this stuff. His taxonomy of misready (see the first link) is very helpful – and art historians have never made as much of it as we should have. Bloom had the misfortune to do all this work shortly before the great tidal wave of French post-Heideggerianism (or late fascist theory – I have a very low tolerance for de Man’s apologists) swept everything before it. I teach a seminar on historiography and have wondered about this overlooktion in some detail.
What I’ve got is a concrete image – a death-bed scene involving a bulging sack – with one clear meaning in high and late medieval iconography and a very different interpretation in the farces. The sack in the pictures is, so far as I can tell, invariably involved with the death-bed of misers and represents their ill-saved gains. The poets play a different game – devils come to capture the soul on its escape from the body in a leather sack – thus taking the presence of demons and sacks and misreading. Rereading.
This is not an uncommon process – it is a very neat example of it. And funny. What more can I want?
Here’s the visual tradition – the death of the miser from Moissac, France – c. 1120. Now I think the demon is holding the money bag because he’s taking the gold to Hell to melt and give to the miser to drink (i.e., punishment fits the crime). That’s mere intuition.
This painting is almost contemporary with the 1496 farce I talked about – Bosch’s Death of the Miser of 1485. Be sure to choose the link for details.

Let’s run this college like a business!

Here’s what happens when you run a start-up college like a start up business – Tom Monaghan’s pet board fires Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., from Ave Maria University – and asks him to clear his desk and leave campus the same day. Don’t these people understand the ‘not in front of the children’ principle? Traumatic personnel decisions (as opposed to firing embezzlers) are best left for June, July, and August. Instead, they do it during the month between sending out admissions offers and the due date for deposits for the fall. And if they don’t believe that parents notice this kind of thing? With a current enrollment around 100 I don’t expect Ave Maria to have a bulging 1st year class of 2011.
The law school furore was not a good sign. I like this entirely non-Catholic-blogsphere coverage.
*Amy Welborn’s
entry with lots of comments

*Whispers in the Loggia part 1, with press release. Part 2, with comments from Fr. Fessio
*For semi-insider coverage (well, this is someone who stayed in Michigan), Fumare.

Weird Phenomena of Modern Living

I just walked in the door at 1.30. The TV was on but not doing anything. I mean that the picture from the Weather Channel was frozen. You see, I leave the TV or a radio on for the dog’s amusement (poor girl – she’s having to hang out in the crate when I’m away because of some housebreaking issues that were driving me nuts). So I change channels. Another still picture. And another still. And another.
So I fire up my browser to see if the cable modem is working. I’m having no problem creating this entry.
Modern life is sometimes very odd.

Albright-Knox Gallery first sale makes $18 million

Well, at least they made a pile of money for their purchasing fund. The Buffalo News version: different pictures. According to the Buffalo News version the estimate was $15 million, so $18 is a good thing. I guess.
Whoops – I read the Buffalo News version too quickly – it’s much more helpful. $18 million (in the NYT) is the gross. The gallery’s net take was $16.1 million – and that’s from only the first 22 of 207 objects and the $15 million was an estimate for the whole process.