Monday, August 21, 2006

The Rest of the Story

I'd like to follow up on George Jason (He is idenified as Jason George in the CDT.) one of the recent graduates mentioned in the puff piece in Saturday's CDT which I critiqued at the time. The CDT used Jason along with two other graduates as examples of people who might not think that Penn State tuition is too high. As I pointed out, one of them, Tambi Hali, was a scholarship athlete, hence the cost of a Penn State education was not an issue for him. The Miami Herald has a story today which gives us some background on Jason.

George Jason started college in 1949 on the GI Bill.

Earlier this month, Jason, wearing a cap and gown, walked across the stage at Pennsylvania State University and received his diploma.

''It felt so strange to be the class of '06,'' said 78-year-old Jason.

The Dania Beach resident completed four years of college with a passing grade point average, falling just short of graduation requirements when he failed his last semester of French 53 years ago.

So this guy took all of his classes 53 years ago on the GI bill. How then can his experience be relevant to the question of whether Penn States tuition is too high? Quite simply it can't be. This leads to another question, how dumb or how intimidated by Spanier is the guy who wrote the CDT editorial?

Spanier's spinners likely fed the story of Jason to the CDT. You see Spanier was in on the story from the beginning.

He wants to run for a spot on the Dania Beach City Commission next year and didn't want to have to tell people he never graduated.

So he wrote a letter to the university president.

''I explained I would be very proud if I could put on my résumé I had a B.A. from Penn State,'' Jason said. ``At this point I had four years and no degree.''

When Jason told his wife he sent the letter, she wasn't optimistic.

''I thought, they're never going to give him a degree,'' Loretta Jason said.

What Loretta didn't realize is that Spanier saw a human interest story which would provide the perfect marking opportunity. There was no way Spanier would not find a way to get this guy his degree. In fact, the Colleges of Arts and Archetecture jumped through hoops to get Jason his degree. I wouldn't think Penn State was too expensive if it provide this sort of service to me at no cost-remember he had't taken a class in 53 years.

Yvonne Gaudelius, the interim dean of the College of Arts and Architecture, got the letter, along with a handwritten transcript listing his grades.

''We dug old bulletins out of the archive and tried to correlate his courses with current degree requirements,'' she said. ``The grading system was totally different. The registrar converted his grades . . . because of the way the degree is now shaped, he had done everything he needed to do.''

The two newspaper accounts are in conflict. The Heralds account does not say that he completed his French requirement, rather it leaves the impression that the University determined that under current guidelines he met all of the requirements for the degree. The CDT explicitly states that he finished three credits in French. I put my bets on the Herald.

One more point worth noting in the Herald article is that Spanier's anti-intellectualism is on full display.

Cards congratulating Jason on his graduation stand on a mantle in the home. He also has his diploma in a black covering and a letter from Spanier.

''Congratulations, George!'' the letter reads. ``I'm so pleased that the College of Arts and Architecture saw fit to approve your degree. French wasn't my strong suit either!''

Ah yes, The Penn State Way.

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