Land Grant Chancellor Ivy Harper: Can UNMC Please Stop Calling our new Cancer Center a Campus?

April 25, 2013

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Chancellor Ivy Harper: Can UNMC Please Refrain from Referring to their new Cancer Center as a “Campus”

April 25, 2013

Omaha, Nebraska – by Ivy Harper (exclusive)

Okay, I thought UNMC officials had taken my advice. Two years ago at one of the NU Board of Regents Rubber-Stamping meetings – you know where the eight men in suits pretend to make decisions that – in reality – have already been made behind closed doors by the three men in suits who really run NU: President Milliken, UN-L Chancellor Harvey Perlman, and UNMC Chancellor Harold Mauer – I learned that UNMC was planning a new Cancer Center.

Several times at the Regents meeting, the proposed Cancer project was described as Omaha’s soon-to-be “Cancer Campus.”

In the five-minute period that “the public” is given to “comment” on NU, I objected.

“Please do not call this Center a ‘Campus’,” I implored. The word ‘Campus” should be reserved for an actual university, I suggested. What’s wrong with calling it simply a “Cancer Center?” I asked. Like most Americans, I’m all for efforts to soften a word  like “Cancer” by pairing it with a positive word like, “Campus,” but the two together are just wrong somehow.

That was two years ago and since then, I’ve never heard it referred to again as the “Cancer Campus.”

Until Dr. Cowan’s “Midlands Voices” column in the Omaha World-Herald (OWH) where he speaks of the new project as a “Cancer Center Campus” a number of times. Yes, the Good Doctor does add the word, “Center” in the middle so it’s now Omaha’s “Cancer Center Campus.” But it still doesn’t work. It’s better than “Cancer Campus” but it’s just not right. It should be Omaha’s “Cancer Center” on the grounds of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Campus.

Years ago, the word “Campus” – which once actually meant something – was co-opted by for-profit corporations like the Vera Bradley Company that decided to refer to their Indiana “factories” as “Campuses.” Much more evocative for sure. A factory sounds loftier when it’s called a “Campus” but to quote the Bard, a cotton-purse factory by any other name is still a cotton-purse factory. Not a “Campus.”

Same thing with the word “University.” I remember the first time I saw the sign in Omaha for “Gallup University,” and I thought to myself, “Gallup’s not a ‘University,’ it’s a “for-profit” company that makes a boatload of money pushing what many have called smoke and mirrors psycho-babble with (sincere)  snake oil salesmen [is that an oxymoron] selling duh-stuff labeled “The Strengths.” [And even more $$$ unlawfully over-billing the Federal government]

But “branding” is beyond big these days. It’s everything. First, you brand; then, you trademark your “brand.” Oh, and there’s all sorts of sub-categories for branding. Sunday’s New York Times  explained how “Biography Branding” works. Let’s take politicians; studies show that voters root for “Underdogs” so now candidates – who don’t have an actual ounce of “underdog” in them – nonetheless, “brand” themselves as “underdogs” so they can lap up the benefits that the association brings.

So, if freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, branding’s just another name for something you get to choose. Even if it’s a total crock, as in: Gallup is NOT a University; Vera Bradley is NOT a campus and Americans – sick with cancer gathered together in one venue- does not a campus make.

After the Times article, it struck me that OPS’s John Makiel has been sneaking in his own “Biography Branding” all these years by making certain that his “bio” material contains the line that he once wanted to become a monk. Wow. Mackiel was a Mad Man before Jon Hamm was Dick Whitman. Truth be told, John Mackiel’s been fleecing hard-working Omaha taxpayers, but by branding himself a near-monk, in the back of Nebraskan’s minds is the idea that Mackiel’s been living an austere, non-acquisitive, noble life. Why? He was going to be a monk, for Christ’s sake. Ergo, what’s a million bucks between monks. By the way, how old was Mackiel when he wanted to enter the priesthood because like my older sister and half the American Catholic girls who grew up in the 1950′s & 1960′s, I thought about becoming a nun. Twelve, thirteen. Hmmmmm. He’s 62, he just “Made-off” with a million bucks taken directly from the backs of under-privileged students but don’t lump him in with Buffett’s David Sokol, Nelnet’s Mike Dunlap, Wall Street’s Jaime Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, my Friend. Here’s the difference: Did they want to become monks?

Bottom line: branding is a joke but sheeple actually buy into it. Ergo, if everybody’s doing it, why shouldn’t I? Guess I’m going to, then. Where to start? Well, since “ivy” – in a magical twist of fate –  is synonymous with “Universities,” I think I’ll “brand” myself a “Chancellor.” You got a problem with that?

Here goes then, for the first time in print: Chancellor Ivy Harper. Am I really a “Chancellor.” Ummm. That would be no. But then, Gallup’s not really a University. Makiel’s not really a monk. Nor are the Vera Bradley factories really campuses. For that matter, Kaplan’s not really a University but they play one in internet marketing schemes where getting federal subsidies for luring in loads of “non-traditional” students is concerned.

Oh, and I’ve got to edit the “About” section of this blog. How’s this for starters: “Chancellor Ivy Harper – who once wanted to become a nun – served as the underdog candidate for Congress in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District where she earned more votes with just $22,000 thousand dollars than the Omaha candidate racked up after spending a million + dollars.” We know he “branded” himself a Teamster when he spoke at union halls but the real question for Omaha voters went unasked: Did Tom White once want to become a monk?

“Branding: it may be b.s. but it works,” said Chancellor Ivy Harper who has now posted 130 articles on her new blog which she plans to re-christen: A Chancellor’s Chronicles.

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