Thursday, July 09, 2015

Taxes, Death and Alumni Associations

Benjamin Franklin famously said "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.". Benjamin Franklin never graduated from college or he would have added a third item: college alumni associations.

You may recall that the Rheothing household moved to a new house last month. Our mail is being forwarded. The way the US Postal Service (which coincidentally was founded by Mr. Franklin) handles this is to stick yellow labels with our new address stuck over the old address. Yesterday the mailbox was full of all manner of items, all with the yellow forwarding labels, but there was one and only one piece of mail without that label - it had the new address printed directly on it. It was the quarterly alumni bulletin from the University of Illinois Department of Chemical Engineering. It makes you wonder how far off the grid you would have to go to get away from them. I'm not complaining however, as I enjoy reading it (certainly much more than the one from Minnesota which goes right into the circular file).

I was saddened to see that Professor May had passed away. He had a wonderful personality and was well-liked by both students and staff. He was also a unique professor in that he had spent 35 years at Exxon before teaching at Illinois. As you might expect, he had a vast array of real-world examples that could make the mathematical-based engineering texts come alive. I was fortunate enough to TA his mass-transfer class one semester. After that I was convinced that all professors, and especially engineering professors, should work in industry for a few years before becoming professors.

Previous Years

July 9, 2014 - "Plastic Debris in the Open Ocean"

July 9, 2010 - Non-stick Chewing Gum

July 9, 2008 - Don't drink the water


Anonymous said...

I have found there are several ways of reducing alumni association hassles.

1) "My career has foundered. I am now unemployed, indigent and living with my parents" is one. Guaranteed to stave the alum association fund-raisers off for a few years.

2) "I am getting divorced and fighting for child custody" - also a quick way to stave off the alum association for several years.

3) Keeping the caller on the line for an hour while you tell her about all the rule-breaking and honor code violations that you witnessed in the department from both students and faculty, how the administration shrugged it all off despite reams of evidence, and how you were treated as a consultant at the same university (complete with the story of how you were denied compensation for months and your work was credited to someone else). Guaranteed to put you on the "Do Not Call, Ever" list and possibly induce the caller to quit her gig with the alumni office out of disgust.

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