A riddle: When is a bench not a bench?
The answer: When, as Michigan State University posits, it’s an idea generator.
That’s one of several cringeworthy slogans identified by John P. Leary, an assistant professor of English at Wayne State University.
Mr. Leary keeps an eye peeled for that type of language, which he calls financial jargon seeping out of the business world. The bench, he says, is a good example of its appearance in higher ed.
"It’s a banal example," he says, but "as I think someone pointed out, there’s probably a highly paid consultant that work-shopped that slogan for about the price of three adjunct English professors."
Last week Mr. Leary solicited on Twitter examples of colleges and universities that are embracing such language. Here are a few, including a table not to be used for homework but for "entrepreneurial purposes only."
Contestant #3 is the promotional video for the USC Iovine & Young Academy, where "the degree is in disruption" https://t.co/ldCSk7jdxx— John Pat Leary (@JohnPatLeary) March 3, 2017
This podcast, from Stanford: "innovation is like a new romance" (eg: "all parties must have 'skin in the game'") https://t.co/DyWCqa5xJK— John Pat Leary (@JohnPatLeary) March 3, 2017
Finally, our last contestant, NYU. No homework, only startupping pic.twitter.com/hDV8CkLPSu— John Pat Leary (@JohnPatLeary) March 3, 2017
Mr. Leary also conducted a survey asking readers to choose the "entrepreneurial university propaganda." As of Monday morning, the Michigan State University bench and the New York University table were atop the survey standings.
Congratulations to our finalists, NYU's "No not-for-profit-homework" and MSU's "No resting only entrepreneuring" bench! pic.twitter.com/IHABZZ5nMT— John Pat Leary (@JohnPatLeary) March 5, 2017