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Give credit where credit is due. Few observers capture and skewer academe and academics as well as Doonesbury, created by Garry Trudeau. The weekend and Sunday strips about the mythical Walden College efficiently and effectively capture, in four to eight panels, much of what gives cause for concern to both insiders and outsiders about academic culture and higher education.

It’s no mystery why so many college profs tape Doonesbury strips to their office walls and doors. Trudeau offers a magnifying mirror to the life [and culture] we have chosen.

Trudeau gets extra points for Sunday’s strip on adjuncts. In a scene reminiscent of the longshoremen begging for jobs in the 1954 Academy-Award winning movie On the Waterfront (or day laborers in the parking lots at many Home Depot stores across the country), weary part-timers in tweed jackets wait for the Dean to make an early-morning appearance just outside the main gate to Walden College. The Dean needs two subs to teach remedial English, plus a “professor-type” for a student film. 

There’s a small (but growing) cottage industry of guidebooks about life in graduate school and academe.  A significant contribution to that literature would be a compilation, in print or on the web, of Trudeau’s Doonesbury panels about Walden College.

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