The other side: addition

There’s a new book out called Tech Transfer, written by “Daniel S. Greenberg, … a leading science journalist with a deep knowledge of the academic world and science policy. He edited the news section of Science magazine for many years and then a newsletter, Science and Government Report.”  He regarded himself as reporting on a lot of waste and fraud.  O dear.

Well we don’t want to be tarred with that brush.  Further, there is no way I’m going to take on the topic of waste and fraud here today!  So I’m just going to give you some of the summary in the NY Times and then see if I can get the book on Kindle.

The best scene in this hilarious first novel is a meeting of the trustees of Kershaw University, an elite research university only 200 years younger than Harvard. The trustees have to select a new president. They listen with mounting dismay as the professional headhunter in charge of the search reads out the polished résumés of each candidate, but notes in each case the fatal flaws revealed by background checks, ranging from spousal abuse to bestiality and, even more fatal, plagiarism…..

As the trustees hasten to leave for the airport, they agree on a nonentity, Mark Winner, an economics professor with a thin résumé and a clean rap sheet.

… When Dr. Winner assumes the presidency of Kershaw University, he learns the folly of challenging the tenured faculty on any of their sacrosanct, non-negotiable issues:

“These included annual pay increases, lax to near-non-existent conflict-of-interest and conflict-of-commitment regulations, and ample pools of powerless grad students, postdocs and adjuncts to minimize professorial workloads. As a safety net, the faculty favored disciplinary procedures that virtually assured acquittal of members accused of abusing subordinates, seducing students, committing plagiarism, fabricating data, or violating the one-day-a-week limit on money-making outside dealings.”

Addition:  I strongly recommend against buying the kindle version, which I unfortunately now own.  The formatting is so poor and distracting that the book is close to unreadable.

One thought on “The other side: addition

  1. The product description from”

    In the annals of dysfunctional universities, the mythical Kershaw University is recognizable. Ranked high among major research institutions by U.S. News & World Report, it has sunk into administrative somnolence under a beloved, untouchable president who lapsed into dementia some years ago.

    The tenured faculty is focused on further minimizing its negligible teaching requirements. Guaranteed annual raises are a non-negotiable goal. Bitter, internecine feuding on campus is normal. The students, ardent consumers of on-line “study aids,” concentrate on partying and sleeping late, when not demonstrating about something, anything.

    While many universities reap corporate millions from research in their laboratories, Kershaw’s scientists prefer to cut their own private deals, ignoring the Technology Transfer Office.

    Now, at last, the revered president has passed away, and the trustees have assembled to consider a short list of highly accomplished candidates screened by a prestigious academic headhunter. Unfortunately, most of the presidential prospects are tainted by one or another shortcoming or misdeed. The winning choice, wearily selected late in the day, is a virtual unknown, clueless about how to run a university.

    The science scene at Kershaw is troublesome. The celebrated chief of Kershaw’s biggest laboratory receives millions in grants from U.S. government agencies while quaking in fear that his craftily fraudulent research will finally be exposed, ending his career and leading to revocation of his countless honors and awards.

    Meanwhile, another of Kershaw’s scientific stars is hard at work on a secret Army contract to develop an anti-sleep drug for battlefield troops. To avoid detection by the politically correct, demo-loving student body, the sleep project is disguised as basic research financed by the National Institutes of Health. Sniffing for clues and a commercial deal is a dropout post-doc working for a venture-capital firm, with ample time out for a hectic love life.

    And that’s just a small part of the story in this first novel by Dan Greenberg, drawn from decades of reporting on science policy, politics, and academe in newspapers and popular and professional journals.

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