A Higher Education Cautionary Tale

This tale is by Physicist Robert Reynolds. It had its inception in the 60s and was finished in 2006. Shaggy with a wonderful punchline, thanks.

The President of Spooner-Punbury Community College, Otto Schmink, had a full agenda that October 1968 morning. Not only was there an award ceremony to conduct, campus unrest had suddenly risen to the level that he really had to devote some time to deciding how to deal with it.

First things first. The awardee, Leroy Geman, also the Dean of Students at the College, had responded to a challenge by its School of Hat Design to come up with some new ways to incorporate felt into hat construction. His idea had won the School’s prestigious “Felt Prize” which consisted in the bestowing of a felt hood that resembled those awarded for advanced degrees in institutions of higher learning.

President Schmink was particularly pleased to be able to bestow this award on Geman, since the Dean had recently barely avoided a possible scandal because of a brief affair he’d had with a wealthy alumna who was a major donor to the College, a woman who emulated British youth of the period in her sophisticated appearance and fancy Edwardian clothing. Schmink was glad to conduct an event connected with the Dean that could provide good publicity instead of bad.

The ceremony almost went off without a hitch, but not quite. Just as the hood was being bestowed, Geman seemed to lose his footing and almost fell from the stage. Fortunately Schmink saw what was about to happen and hooked one end of the hood over a knob on the lectern, thus averting a tragedy.

After the ceremony, the President asked the Dean to come with him to his office to discuss the matter of student unrest. Both men were concerned and somewhat at a loss for a strategy Ð common to campuses of the day. They had chatted for awhile in the President’s office when the Dean looked out the second-story window and saw a well-known student anarchist skulking across the campus, moving toward a dense crowd of students. Worse, there was actually a smoking bomb fuse sticking out of his trench coat pocket.

Horrified, Geman drew Schmink’s attention to the scene. What to do? Not much time for reflection now!

Suddenly the President reached above the fireplace in his office where an ornate decorative but nevertheless loaded rifle was mounted. He pulled down the weapon and handed it to the Dean, saying “To avoid danger to those students, you must shoot the anarchist at once!”

Geman, known to be a skilled hunter, still was loath to shoot a student, even an anarchist. He protested, “You must do it, Mr. President. You have the greater authority here!”

The President demurred, explaining “Though I’ve felted you and belayed you, by the giving mod that laid you, you’re a better gun than I am, Dean Geman!”

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *