Lies and Untruths

Gillette, Peter

I seldom use my column to share unflattering information about myself, but this week I just can’t resist. I have only one thing on my mind: money problems.
You see, I am terrible with money. I am poor. Let me count the ways. There is the credit card debt from that summer where Discover Card bankrolled many a trip from Illinois to Minneapolis, and many more trips to Borders Books and Music.
There are your garden variety student loan debts, but I won’t regale you with those. I owe friends money. (Trust me, all of you, I will pay you back. some day.) I used to have car debts, but luckily, during leaf collection, the city of Appleton relieved me of those.
And so, as I looked forward to grad school auditions, I wondered: where do I get the airfare to visit schools? I was in a panic.
Just when all hope seemed lost, I opened up the Lawrence University webpage. Lo, and behold! There is a surefire way to become flush with cash.
I saw that Lawrence University has been awarded a major grant by the Teagle Foundation to the tune of $100,000 for use in evaluating the new Lawrence Fellows program.
How on earth could an evaluation of eight people cost One-Hundred grand? According to the press release, the money will support a “working group” of administrators, faculty, staff, and students who will spend 20 months evaluating the effectiveness of a program that will probably only end up encompassing a dozen people.
According to the press release, the group will analyze the fellows program “using data gathered through a variety of methods, including self-assessment of teaching and scholarship, video and in-class observations, course evaluations, surveys, and other reports.” The group will then present the evaluation plan this March in New York City.
That’s when it hit me: I have an audition in New York City March 10th for grad school. I would really love to kill two birds with one stone and save some airfare.
Now, I took a class with a fellow last term– Daniel Barolsky. I enjoyed it so much that I roped him into supervising a research project. I have also been served by several other fellows at Senior Night. I can tell you what works and what doesn’t work. I’d be perfect for that committee. Just give me some money.
During that class last term, before the fine folks from Teagle came through with the grant, Mr. Barolsky was videotaped, assessed, and observed from each possible angle. In other words, the data already exists. It didn’t cost a thing.
Maybe more of us can get a cut of that cash. Since much of the data comes from evaluations that petty, ungrateful, and short-sighted undergraduates like you and me toss off so we won’t be stuck taking the envelope to the office, perhaps a little cash would cause us to make our impressions, how shall we say, more “thorough.”
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