University Diaries

A professor of English describes American university life.

A professor of English describes American university life.

January 12, 2008 - 8:06pm
UD has just attended her first press conference as a reporter. She had a tussle with Myles Brand about what a university is. Brand branded UD as someone who doesn't "understand the modern university." He was annoyed because UD told him that he's very "intellectually muddy" about what a university is.
January 12, 2008 - 7:58pm
UD has hopped a cab from the Gaylord for a quick walk through Nashville. The afternoon is mild and full of sun, and she's gone up and down Broadway, the main drag, taking in the Batman building (parallel projectiles on the top at either end make ears), the honky tonk bars, and an internet cafe that looked appealing but was closed. Now, chugging one Pepperidge Farm Butter Thin cracker after another, she's at the Frist museum .
January 12, 2008 - 2:59pm
It's a brilliantly sunny Saturday morning (I think it's Saturday -- I'vealways been weak on days of the week) in Nashville. UD's on the bus, the big big bus that carries UD plus one or two other hotel overflow people to the Gaylord Convention Center. The insane unstoppable friendliness of every Nashvillian UD's encountered is exhausting. Take the woman driving this bus. She's got hair like UD's, only it's all white -- an avalanche. Plus big ol' sunglasses. "Ahm a Florida girl. Ahm used to flat."
January 11, 2008 - 5:51pm
The NCAA session on a recent big study about faculty attitudes toward campus athletics was deadly dull. There wasn't one comment or question afterwards from a very large audience. Some people were asleep, some engrossed in their Blackberries, some text messaging... Some, like UD, were gazing at the chandeliered ceiling and thinking about... UD was thinking about old boyfriends... The session began with an official sounding statement to the audience: "Keep in mind that members of the media may be here."
January 11, 2008 - 1:47pm
Elia Powers, in his latest IHE dispatch from the NCAA, talks about the checkered history of scholarly colloquia at the convention. The NCAA has been reluctant, some argue, to have serious academics say serious things in a high-profile way about often-squalid university sports.
January 11, 2008 - 9:53am
Tornado watch over, UD yesterday afternoon got on the big bus (there was one other passenger, a guy who had a long conversation with the driver about the best place to get "real home-cooked Tennessee pork") and entered the alternative universe that is the Gaylord Opryland.
January 11, 2008 - 7:23am
"Why is there netting on the magnolias?" UD asked the driver of the immense shuttle bus that takes her and her alone from the Airport Marriott to the Opryland Convention Center whenever she feels like it. Two humongous buses endlessly idle in front of her hotel, and in front of the Opryland, to take people to and from overflow hotels. There aren't that many of us, but the NCAA has hired all these buses and drivers...
January 10, 2008 - 3:14pm
I'm absurdly early for my flight to Nashville because Mr. UD insisted on my being here way ahead. I've had some Kung Pao chicken at Ronald Reagan Airport [UD has friends who refuse to use this name], and I've connected my laptop to the outlet next to my table, but I don't seem to be Wi-Fi enabled or whatever on this little white Averatec.
January 10, 2008 - 5:09am
UD leaves today for Nashville, where she joins thousands of university athletes, administrators, coaches, and fans for the annual NCAA convention -- the biggest gathering yet of this most curious and powerful organization. Her preparation for the event confirms her sense that the NCAA oversees an immensely complicated sports landscape, and that no one outside the organization can hope to get a sense of everything it's about.
January 3, 2008 - 4:23pm
More NCAA commentary, as UD prepares for her trip to the organization's annual convention, this from a Canadian writer who urges Quebeckers who qualify for athletic scholarships to avoid the United States:

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