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    A provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.

Pizza Debate
October 21, 2012 - 6:00pm

The Presidential Debate at Hofstra went off without a hitch and more importantly will clearly be a significant moment in terms of who will be the next President of the United States.  The questions asked reflected well on the Town Hall participants and the passionate answers given shed more light on complex issues that need resolution sooner than later.

Just as individuals are judged at moments like this by the quality of their questions and answers, so are corporations judged by the quality of their products as well as corporate earnings plus their commitment to being good citizens.  By the measure of corporations being good citizens, in my opinion, Pizza Hut, the national pizza chain that offered free pizza for life to anyone asking President Obama and Governor Romney the question of “pepperoni or sausage,” deserves a failing grade.  And since the corporation also encouraged a follow up question regarding pizza toppings, an additional failing grade is also in order.

I wasn’t surprised that no one asked the pizza question during the debate since it is clear to everyone that there are critical issues we are confronting as a nation and as citizens of this planet.  The time for frivolous questions is long gone.  Being able to ask a question at the debate represents an opportunity and it is counterproductive for an important corporation to create temptation to squander that opportunity or turn it into a fiasco. This is not a matter of having a sense of humor; rather it represents using common sense.

Our work as educators involves cultivating and recognizing accomplishments. We applaud student accomplishment and the degrees we award are the cumulative acknowledgement of those accomplishments.  If Pizza Hut or any corporation would like to have a contest revolving around a Presidential Debate, let the focus be on the best question asked and recognition for the person who asked that question.  This could be done by means of a poll or utilizing a panel of experts.  Either way, it would assure even more attention and focus on a critical question and a critical issue.

Democracies aren’t strengthened by deliberating between “pepperoni or sausage.” The classic economic tradeoff of guns or butter still applies today while the pizza tradeoff is just irrelevant. Democracies are strengthened by asking fundamental questions, having thoughtful discussions, and dealing with issues that require resolution.  My pizza preference by the way is plain pizza, prepared by a business that  understands its success is grounded in the success of our country and our ability to utilize the best minds to confront the issues that we have no choice but to confront sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

 

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