A sometimes pleasant adventure that loses its credibility when it ventures into the darker side of on-campus life.

Fun and Games on Campus and How College Presidents Earn Their Big Dollars

Debut author Iosue’s humorous memoir recounts his time as the college president at York College in Pennsylvania.

Iosue describes the comedic travails of college presidents—fundraising attempts with eccentric elderly millionaires, events with temperamental musicians and speakers, and everyday debacles with drunken frat boys. The author’s persona is that of an old-school curmudgeon with Calvinist tendencies and an Ozzie and Harriet manner. He opposes coed cohabitation, pets on campus and all manner of freewheeling student behavior. Organized by types of interactions—“A Typical Day” and “Fraternity Frolics” are two chapter titles—the book chronicles Iosue’s struggle not to lose his mind or his temper amid life on campus. Most winningly, the author isn’t afraid to mock his own character flaws, devoting many details to the large egos of college presidents. He even shares his failed attempts to get Frank Sinatra to appear on campus. His first-person narrative of his misadventures is told in a droll, polished style. However, Iosue’s evident conservative bent may irk some readers. While most will laugh at his descriptions of drunken fraternity antics, his jabs at Transgender Studies and mentions of the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas case may alienate some of his audience. In particular, the chapter on sexual harassment—where Iosue largely throws up his hands at the university’s inability to determine guilt or innocence and comments on harassment of students he considers “schlumpy”—is an unfortunate subject choice that will leave some readers fuming. At minimum, it undermines Iosue’s authority and sympathy as a narrator. It is one thing for a college president to joke about keg parties on campus, but another to approach sexual harassment in a flippant or jocular way.

A sometimes pleasant adventure that loses its credibility when it ventures into the darker side of on-campus life.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475250725

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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