Tag Archives: Learning

Dean Ima Farseer and the Press ©

          Ima Farseer fulfilled one of her life goals when she became dean of the Department of Et. Al., Et. Al., at Letongaloosa Community Junior College. Ima had from, the time she was a child, wanted to be a faculty member at an institution of higher learning.

          Her other long-held desire was to be a journalist.  As a child, Ima had awakened early one morning to the sound of a newsboy out in the street shouting “extra,” “extra.”  From then on Ima thought that going about gathering information and writing it up in a newspaper would be exciting. 

          Aspiring to be a journalist and becoming one, Ima found, would require her to overcome a long-time fear of talking to reporters. 

          In her capacity as a college dean, Ima had no difficulty meeting and talking with students, parents, faculty members and other educational professionals.  That came with the job and she was comfortable with it.  But when some event brought reporters to the campus and the president ordered her to “take care of the situation,” Ima wasn’t at all comfortable 

          Journalists seemed SO self-confident.  In a group, they tended to be loud and pushy. Reporters asked far-fetched questions like “Dr. Farseer is it true that the president of Letongaloosa Community Junior College has been nominated for a

Ima Farseer and the Press, page 2

Nobel Prize for literature?” 

Ima had to answer such mush without demeaning her boss.

          On the other side, some resourceful journalists who had obtained information from sources inside the institution created serious problems for LCJC.  Those questions had to be answered truthfully (lying to the press always caused problems) but very diplomatically.  

          Responses to questions about the budget, issues of federal funding, and some things about diversity required very careful wording. 

          Being pragmatic by nature, Ima decided to take her questions about the press to the source itself—in this case the editor and publisher of the local newspaper, the Letongaloosa Challenger-Bulletin-Clarion-Journal-Post.

          Ima had known the editor/publisher, Michael Stoneworthy, for years. They had served together as members of local boards of directors.  Theirs was a case of mutual, if sometimes uncomfortable, need.  LCJC needed newspaper coverage and the newspaper needed to cover the town’s major institution of higher education appropriately.

          Ima walked into Stoneworthy’s office at a time she knew he’d be the least busy.

          “Mike, I need your help.  I want to do what you do,” said Ima.

          “Why would you want to fight the rising cost of newsprint and be yelled at by everybody in town?”

          “No.  I don’t want to run a newspaper.  I want to be a reporter.”

          “Wouldn’t we all?” he mused. “Those people have all the fun and have none of the headaches.”

          “So how do I do it?  I’m afraid to ask strangers hard questions, and that’s what reporters do all day long.  I look at them—when I’m not talking about issues at LCJC, and I just dry up.  They seem so formidable and self-confident with their notebooks and tape recorders.”

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          Michael Stoneworthy paused, turned in his swivel chair and looked out the window of his office.

          “A hundred years ago, when I was a cub reporter, I asked my publisher, Carlton James, the same question.  He was a wise old duck, and he looked at me and said:

          “Mike, what you need to do is dethrone these bozos without their knowing you’re doing it.  You need to look at these formidable dudes and pretend that they’re sitting there in their underwear.  You try to see through to their boxer shorts, and the black sock-holders strapped around their shins. They’re wearing their favorite frayed undershirt that they can’t bring themselves to discard.

          “When you see them that way in your mind’s eye you say to yourself, 

“I’m not afraid of these bozos.” 

“Then you just speak up and ask your questions.”

“Did it work?”

“It worked for old James, and it worked for me.”

“Mike, you’re a lifesaver.”

“Ima?”

“Yes.”

“How would you like to go to dinner?”

“I’d love that Mike.”

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Don’t Punt, Coach!©

Coach  Nick Whitlow was sorting football equipment in the Leopards locker room when his cell phone buzzed.  He looked at the caller ID. Coach Whitlow  scowled and said, !@#$%^&*.  Then he pushed the answer button, smiled and said, “Coach Whitlow speaking.”

The caller was Dr. Ima Farseer, dean of  Letongaloosa Community Junior College’s School  of  Electromagnetic Communigraphics.

“Coach Whitlow, we need to talk,” said the dean.

“I’m real tied up right now, Ma’ am,”  he said. “Got football practice, comin’ up ya know.”

“That’s why I  need  to see you in my office.  Your football team has academic eligibility problems.”

 

“Whoa.   Whoa. Hold on.  I’ll be right there.”

Dean Farseer’s office door was open so Coach Whitlow   walked in and sat in the visitor’s  chair opposite the dean’s massive mahogany desk.  All four legs of the  visitor’s chair had been shortened.  And one leg had been cut shorter than the other three.  The visitor was forced to sit on a low, teetery  chair.  Advantage, Farseer.

“Ima,” pause, “Uh, I mean Dean Farseer, our atha-letes  work very hard on their academic studies. Very hard, in deed.”

“With little to show for it when grade cards come out,”  said the dean.

“Ma’am,   the Leopards are  ten and one on the year.  Our best season since 2012.”

“And  your athletes are  zero and 23 academically.  Not a single ath-lete (she pronounced the word  slowly and enunciated it pointedly) is on the dean’s list. On the other hand, 17 football players are in various after school detention programs.”

The coach teetered silently.  Then he said, “Let me get back to you on this,” said the coach.

“Please do,” said the dean.  “Soon.”

It had never occurred to Coach Whitfield to call up the dean’s list on his computer, but he did so the moment he arrived back at his office.

The names of students with four-point- oh grades led the list, followed by others in descending order down to the bottom of the list where he recognized the names of a number of his football players.

At the top of the 4.0 list was Tyler Kirby.  The coach remembered him. He had been an eager first-day-of- practice walk-on. Kirby weighed 187 pounds. His thick  glasses were held on by an elastic  band .

“Sorry, kid,” the coach had said, “We already got enough  managers.”

“I want to make the team, Coach.”

 

“Not  this team, you don’t  Go take a shower.”

“Gaaaa,” said the coach, as he remembered the encounter. He left the building.

On the sidewalk outside the  building he bumped into someone.

“Sorry, Coach, I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

“My fault. Say, aren’t you Tyler Kirby?”

“Yes sir.”

“ Son, I need to talk to you.  Could you come to my office?”

“Now, sir?”

“Yes, if you’re free.”

After the meeting, Kirby Tyler set up a team of his own—a group of academically high achieving students who tutored athletes. The athletes thrived.

Coach Whitlow put Tyler on his team, and  made  sure  that Tyler got to suit up for every game.  Toward the end of the season when the Leopards were leading the La Mancha Mongrels 47-6  the coach called:

“Kirby. Get in there at quarterback and heave a long one down field.  ”

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Make Me A Skeptic

“Teach me to doubt the easy answers—the lazy ways of explaining any news event.”

Alfred P. Klausler and John De Mott, eds., “Prayer for Protection from Myself,” The Journalist’s Prayer Book,” Minneapolis, Minn., Augsburg Publishing House, 1972, p. 60.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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