Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Saying it doesn't make it so

I recently learned that the website of the state college where I teach claims that the college is "referred to as the 'Harvard of the Midwest.'" An ill-advised epithet, for numerous reasons. Last week, the student paper offered a well-reasoned editorial calling for an end to this misguided public-relations effort. This afternoon, "referred to as the 'Harvard of the Midwest'" still appears on the college website.

A Google search for "harvard of the midwest" turns up roughly 850 results. Searching for "harvard of the midwest" and my college yields only 17 results, 5 of them from the college website. The other 12 point to a single sardonic reference on an alumni blog. In other words, the only pages that are in earnest in offering this characterization are those on the college website. The honorific, it turns out, originated with a lone state legislator some years ago. Was he joking? Just being fulsome? Who knows?

It'd make me happy if my college abandoned its delusion of grandeur and made a more honest effort when putting itself before the public. Saying it doesn't make it so.

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