The Most Cringeworthy Monuments to Colleges’ Innovation Jargon

March 06, 2017

John P. Leary, an assistant professor of English at Wayne State U., has needled colleges that embrace the jargon of innovation. He poked fun at the U. of Pennsylvania's Pennovation Center, saying it was not just a sign, "but an entire building, and a delicious pun."

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."

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.

Chris Quintana is a breaking-news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @cquintanadc or email him at