Monthly Archives: May 2014

THE BEST TEACHER I EVER HAD

It was in college at UCONN.  His name was Professor Croteau.  He was short, wiry and a bundle of bubbling enthusiasm.

When I transferred to UCONN, there was no language requirement in the College of Liberal Arts.  Just after I got there, however, the university decided you had to have a year of a language to get a degree.

I stalled; but as I faced my senior year, I had to make a decision:  Do I go back to my nemesis “French” or try a different language?

French certainly should have been the easy choice, but with such a checkered history, I wasn’t sure what to do.  You see, back in high school in New York, I failed French I using the textbook my uncle wrote.

The teacher claimed I cheated by looking at my neighbor’s paper.  Truth be told, with my poor eyesight, I couldn’t see my neighbor’s paper no less what was on it.  The teacher wanted to hear none of it, so I had to repeat French I.

Probably got an 85 or so when I repeated, so they put me in the French Honor Class for French II.   The teacher here was a quiet, mousy thing and never called on me.

I sat in the back of the room reading Howard Fast novels and she kept putting me back in the honors class in III and IV.  Then I made the compound mistake.

In New York you had to take a statewide regents exam at the end of two years or three years.  Since I knew next to nothing about French, I decided I would pass the two-year regents and go for the three.

My unassertive teacher apologetically explained she couldn’t keep me in the honor’s class.  I’d have to go into the regular French V class.

So I went to French V with Mr. Eckstein, who decided within a week I had faked my way through two years of French.  He was astounded and told me so.  Taking his advice, I went back to French IV and somehow got by the two-year regent exam.

When I went to the University of Oklahoma, I never had a language requirement and thought I would have the same free pass at UCONN.  That’s when my luck ran out.

I had all my credits to graduate at UCONN except the new language requirement.  So in the summer of 1953, Freddy Cohen and I enrolled in Professor Croteau’s one-year French immersion course.

Freddy and I lived in a dumpy apartment overlooking the Willmantic River that summer and went to school three hours a day, five days a week.  On weekends we worked in Moodus, Connecticut, alternately in a gas station and a restaurant, whichever was busiest.

Professor Corteau was a bundle of energy and enthusiasm.  He had us singing songs, acting out skits and complimenting each of us on everything we did.  He was retired from the full-time faculty but came back each summer to spread his joy of French among the willing and the not so willing.

It was a wonderful experience and he pulled us through that year of French in his six-week summer course.

I wish I had had more teachers like him.  I would have learned more and enjoyed the academic side of school infinitely more.

ArtSchwartzSig

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WHO KILLED ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND FORGOT TO TELL US?

Early in the last century college professors began campaigning for “academic freedom.”   They wanted the right to be able to express themselves without there being a bar to gaining tenure.  Eventually they got that right and tenure has protected them ever since.

Then in the 60’s, the “Free Speech Movement” got started by college students who wanted the right to speak out and/or protest what they thought was right or wrong at their colleges, as well as in the world.

You should think the confluence of both these campaigns would encourage the consideration of all ends of the political spectrum.

What appears to be happening today, however, is a stifling of free speech, as well as the freedom to censor and ban anything that’s anti-liberal and/or a conservative viewpoint.

You’ve probably seen the scorecard this year when it comes to commencement speakers:  Condoleezza Rice, one of the most accomplished and admirable people in America, was called a “war criminal” by protesting students and faculty at Rutgers.  The former secretary of state withdrew, as did Christine Legarde at $60,000-per-year Smith College.  Madame Legarde runs the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but some members of the “Smith community” circulated a petition accusing the IMF of aiding “imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.”  (That’s how the enlightened speak on campus these days.)  So the first woman to run the IMF condones the abuse of women!  It’s worth mentioning that Smith’s recent commencement speakers have included (uber liberals) Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, and Arianna Huffington.  Seriously!  But Christine Legarde is persona ultra non grata.

Prior to those outrages, $60,000-per-year Brandeis notoriously rescinded its decision to grant an honorary degree to the Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who actually suffered abuse in the form of a clitoridectomy at age five.  She has spent her adult life crusading against the abhorrent treatment of women in much of the Muslim world.  However, after hearing from Muslim groups, cowardly officials at Brandeis decided that Hirsi Ali is not worthy of being honored.  Previous honorary degrees at Brandeis were bestowed upon left wing, Isreal-bashing playwright Tony Kushner and dictator-loving calypso singer Harry Belafonte.

Universities were once bastions of free thought and open discourse, but that is no longer the case, not if your “free thought” is based on Christian or conservative principles.  According to a recent poll by researchers at UCLA, 63% of college professors identify themselves as “liberal” or “far left,” while just 12% are “conservative” or “far right.”  And the imbalance has only been getting worse (or better, depending on your perspective) in recent years.  Looks like Ward Churchill used to be the exception, but not anymore.

It’s almost no exaggeration to say that today our college campuses are the only place in America where you can still find anybody who believes in communism!

Because these professors are protected by tenure, they can force students to listen to their anti-American and often explicitly Marxist harangues daily…it’s almost impossible to fire them.

These radical professors are not hiding.  They’re out in the open.  They’re not just in our classrooms.  They are running university departments and chairing hiring committees.  They’re probably teaching your son or grandson, daughter or granddaughter.

  • Before the November 2012 election, Florida community college professor Sharon Sweet allegedly told her students they must sign a pledge to vote for Barack Obama and Democrats for every office.  She distributed printed materials taken from a website paid for by the Obama-Biden campaign.
  • Mary Frances Berry, a professor of American Social Thought and History at the University of Pennsylvania, praises the virtues of the Soviet Union and believes that the threat blacks faced during the 1960s in the United States is comparable to the genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany.  Berry wrote, “Calling Tea Partiers ‘racists’ is an effective strategy for Democrats.”
  • At an Iraq War protest rally held at Columbia University, anthropology professor Nicholas De Genova declared that “the only true heroes were those fighting America’s armed forces” and that he wished for our soldiers “military defeat and death.”
  • Not long ago, radical faculty at the University of Delaware launched an “ideological re-education program” referred to by the university as “treatment” for the “incorrect attitudes and beliefs” which students have been bringing to the university from their home environments.  The program’s stated goal was for students to adopt university-approved views on politics, race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism.
  • Michael Eric Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, told his students the 9/11 attacks were payback for “America’s past imperialistic practices.”

Please understand, under the first amendment, these people are entitled to harbor and speak out about anything they want.  There is, however, a distinction, or should be, between speech as a private citizen and that of a teacher.

A teacher who has the responsibility to influence students must adhere to some factual basis for their beliefs, or at least offer some balance in their discourse.

Writing in the L.A. Times, Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute said:

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that conservative speakers aren’t welcome on college and university campuses.

“In 2013, in the span of a few days, student protests disrupted a presentation by Karl Rove at the University of Massachusetts and one by Rand Paul at Howard University.  That same week, former Bush administration official Robert Zoellick withdrew as a commencement speaker at Swarthmore College, while Obama critic Dr. Ben Carson did the same at Johns Hopkins.”

Hassett said, “In order to gauge how rare it is for a conservative to be invited to speak at a college graduation, I looked at event speakers in 2012 and 2013 from the top 100 universities and top 50 liberal arts colleges.  From what I could best identify in 2012, only one Republican spoke at the 50 liberal arts colleges and only three in 100 universities.  The results for 2013 were almost the same.

“America has become much more polarized over the last few decades, and observers have blamed politicians and gerrymandering.  But some of the blame lies elsewhere.  America’s institutions of higher education have become some of the most polarizing institutions in our society.  Students who pass through them are remarkably well-prepared to join our uncivil political discourse.”

Perhaps most alarming in all this were the letters to the editor following Hassett’s article.  In effect, they said Republicans and conservatives have nothing to say.

I’m not sure what was more frightening, the statistics Hassett offered or the reaction.

Apparently someone killed academic freedom and free speech and no one told us.

ArtSchwartzSig

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REVISITING HAWAII AND PRESIDENT KENNEDY

While doing some post-surgery R&R in Hawaii last month, I ran across a five-month-old article by Richard Reeves, a noted JFK biographer, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.

That’s why I love the local newspapers in Hawaii as well as the lifestyle of the Sandwich Islands. They’re always a little behind and in no hurry to catch up.

Here are some excerpts from the L.A. Times’ article with Reeve’s comments and observations on Kennedy’s three years in the White House—what he was; what he wasn’t.

“In a recent national Gallup poll, Americans rated Kennedy as the greatest president since World War II, with 74% of respondents ranking him an outstanding or above-average president. Ronald Reagan was second with 61%, Bill Clinton third with 55% and Dwight Eisenhower fourth with 49%.

“But Kennedy’s death also exposed some less enthusiastic realities.”

What Kennedy accomplished:

  1. Able to avoid war in the Cuban Missile Crisis
  2. Prevented a regional conflict in Germany
  3. Negotiated a nuclear test ban with Russia
  4. Gambled U.S. could overtake the Soviets early lead in space exploration
  5. Changed the way primaries were won by nominees, diminishing the influence of party bosses

Where Kennedy failed:

  1. Legislative setbacks – half-hearted attempt to pass civil rights legislation
  2. Started and escalated the Vietnam debacle
  3. The planning of the “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba
  4. His deeds never quite matched his soaring rhetoric

Reeves summarizes the Kennedy years in the following:

  1. Historians and scholars do not rank Kennedy with the top tier of presidents (as Americans did in the Gallop poll)
  2. Kennedy was a compartmentalized man with much to hide and comfortable with secrets and lies
  3. Personal popularity obscures lack of accomplishments
  4. In general, the picture has evolved from a charismatic young president who inspired youth around the world to a deeply flawed man whose oratory outstripped his accomplishments.

Sounds almost like Kennedy has an identical twin in the current White House.

He probably had in Ted Sorenson and staff, the greatest speechwriters of any president.

My personal take on John Kennedy included: A meeting in a small group with Ted Sorenson in the White House. He was about my age. One of Kennedy’s principal aides. I was overwhelmed with how bright he was.

Kennedy wrote a book titled “Profiles in Courage” but was reluctant to take a stand during the McCarthy episode.

I was totally underwhelmed meeting in a small group with Teddy Kennedy (who was about my age) during John’s presidential campaign.

The weekend of his assassination was the most emotional draining of my life. I could not stop watching the television.

ArtSchwartzSig

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THE EMOTIONAL STAGES OF EVENTS/PROJECTS

I first became aware that a pattern exists in the emotional and physical stages of producing an event or managing an extensive project when I read the book “Seven Crises” by Richard Nixon. In the book, former President Nixon described the events that occurred during critical times in his life.

Although the real purpose of the book appeared to be Nixon’s need to justify his actions during each time of crisis, what struck me was how Nixon went through the same emotional and physical stages in each of the described situations. Nixon detailed the excitement, the tension and the energy it took to pour himself into each of his crisis situations. He depicted the singular focus he employed in his activities during each crisis and the abrasive effect it had on his family, friends and co-workers. According to the book, Nixon’s most vulnerable point in each crisis surprisingly occurred after the crisis was over. It was at this point in time that Nixon admits he committed his greatest errors.

It was after it was over that Nixon, excoriated the press for aiding his opponent in defeating him for Governor of California and chastised the two young State Department aides for his mistaken belief they had mishandled the crowd control during his trip to South America. He admitted to similar misjudgments in the hearings on Alger Hiss and the rest of his critical moments in the public spotlight.

As I began to reflect on Nixon’s plight, I realized that although his crises played out on a much higher, political plane, it’s really the same for all of us in the event and project planning business.

As I see it, and confirmed from Nixon’s book, there appears to be eight emotional and physical stages that occur for most event producers and project managers:

  1. Excitement. This is when the initial idea and energy starts to bubble. You can’t wait to get started.
  2. Intensity. This stage adds the total commitment and the charge to get it all done.
  3. Apprehension. What if no one comes to the event?
  4. Wired. It’s about to happen. The tension mounts. This is when it becomes hard to communicate with family and co-workers. You do not want to be distracted,
  5. Elation. The event was a success.
  6. Depression. It’s over—be careful.
  7. Exhaustion. Feel like a zombie.
  8. Recover. You get back to normal.

Alert the people around you to stages 3 and 4 and tell them you may be a little short with them. Be especially careful in stages 6 and 7. Those are the most critical times to misread or offend.

Early in my career I was given responsibility for putting together and running an awards banquet. This was my first solo responsibility and I was anxious to do it right. It all went off quite well. When it was over, I stayed to pack up all the props and paraphernalia.

We didn’t stay too long; and when I got home, I realized I didn’t have my brand new blazer. Early the next morning I called and went back to the hotel, but there was no sign of my blazer. If I didn’t feel bad enough now, I knew I had to face the wrath of my wife.

I had worked night and day for more than a year to produce my event. When it was over, I was exhilarated with the success and exhausted. My job as a recorder was to summarize the discussions of my breakout group to the plenary session at the end of each day. The task was interesting but demanded a lot of attention.

I learned I needed to be more careful about the invitations I accepted.

As I advanced in years, I never went to bed for five or six days, but I better understood why he did.

When the event is over, you have to be careful and cognizant of these last stages in the event of a letdown. Each of us is different and has to find the right amounts of rest, solitude and increasing levels of exercise and socialization that works best for our recovery.

About the same time as my event aftershock, I had occasion to talk with a gentleman who ran a counterpart organization in another city. He told me after his show he would go to bed for five or six days. I was young and thought he must be kidding; made more fun of him than I should have.

It was difficult because I was over tired, couldn’t sleep and was “wired” to the hilt. My performance as a recorder was not my finest hour.

That was my first lesson in vigilance. A few years later, after a first very successful consumer show, I had agreed to accept an invitation to attend a session of the Arizona Academy as a “recorder.” The academy was a group of high profile civic, business and academic leaders who met twice a year for four days to discuss and make recommendations on issues of importance to the state.

It was a warm summer night. After the event, the hotel had turned off the A/C, so I took off my new blazer to get everything wrapped up and put in my car. When finished, I went into the bar to fetch my boss who I had to drive home. He appeared pleased with the night’s event and invited me to have a drink.

In the letdown after it’s over, you have to be careful. It’s important to maintain your vigilance and be on guard because the depression and exhaustion is coming.

You may not experience each of these stages exactly as I have described them, but you will probably go through most of them in one way or another. Because these stages come into play time and again, it is important to recognize and prepare for them.

ArtSchwartzSig

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