Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have To Do

It's funny how bits of information from the past can reform themselves in relation to each other to present a new image of events. Something akin to turning a kaleidoscope.

I was thinking about that this morning when I recalled my graduate school program chair asking me for a copy of my master's thesis, which, seven years ago, I was in the process of writing. At the time, it puzzled me why he would want to read a draft thesis by a student he was not even instructing or advising, but I shrugged it off and printed him a copy.

Five years later, the college was subjected to a special investigation by the accrediting agency for violations of academic integrity, and in the agency report, I recall reading that the school had come under heightened scrutiny five years earlier, and that things had gone downhill from there. Reading further in the report, the oversight agency acknowledged that some of the academic work produced by students at the college was noteworthy, and that the interdisciplinary curriculum had merit, but that the administration of the school could not be relied on to ensure academic vigor or reliable records.

Looking back, I recall one of the senior faculty remarking to me in passing one day, that I was the star of the school, even though I'd not received any formal recognition or participated in any public events on the school's behalf. I figured he was just being nice, and forgot about the encounter until I began pondering the importance of the events described in this article. It was then that it dawned on me that the college might have submitted my thesis as evidence of institutional merit, perhaps as one of several exhibits used in fending off heightened oversight, but I'll never know for sure.

Of course, now that the college is closed, due to the frauds committed by the trustees, it doesn't really matter what benefit my work as a student there had, except to my self-esteem. As consolation for loss of my alma mater and a lifetime of alumni involvement, I suppose that will have to do.


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