Many people appreciate art. But some university administrators don't - In Canada there's a university in Hamilton, Ontario, near a place called Wonderland. (Yes, really!) A debate has begun there about the value of the subject known as the History of Art. You know, the one where you study the greatest and most important visual creations in the history of humanity.
"That's not correct," stated a university administrator, Dr. Ruse-Anne Costly. "Humanity has nothing to do with art. I should know. I Am The Dean Of Humanities."
Dr. Costly decided she would close the university's long-standing program in Art History. Then she refused to see students who wanted to speak with her about her decision. Finally, like a certain white rabbit, she escaped through large loopholes in sense and went into hiding.
To quell the chaos she'd caused, Dr. Costly sent out her bodyguard, the Associate Dean, Dr. Always Right. "You won't even find her," he chortled at the students, pointing to the Bite Me sign on Dr. Costly's door. "She's terribly busy putting the kibosh to your program. She told me to give you false information about it. I'll be delighted to, because I'm well versed in that sort of thing.
"By the way, she's really eager to talk to you and has made an appointment for Dec. 25, 2011."
Nonetheless, the students decided to gather on their own to formulate questions for Dr. Right. Feeling immense empathy with them, he ran over to the Student Centre and barged into their meeting to explain.
"We're not killing your program!" he shouted, out of breath. "We're simply putting a knife in it, twisting it, and walking away! And yes, we have reasons. Your program stinks and there's no one in it."
The students objected. A recent outside review of the Art History program had pointed out healthy enrolments and the high quality of both professors and students. "Like I said," continued the Ass. Dean more quietly, as if imparting a secret, "you have one prof we deliberately overwork, a second we've made busy at other things, and a third we've pushed into sick leave."
The students then asked about the obvious connections of their program with the university's internationally renowned Museum of Art.
"Where's that? Besides, it's irrelevant," Dr. Right harrumphed. "An art museum has nothing to do with art history. If you really want to help, as our esteemed Ambassadors for the Humanities, you'll just give us money, go away, and not point out how we mismanage everything."
Clearly the discussion was coming to an end. "And now," he grinned, adjusting his sizable headgear, "I must go. It's almost March and I have a tea party to organize."
A few weeks earlier, Dr. Costly had explained it all to her faculty minions. "I tell people I have to make the tough decisions. That just means I make cuts where I can get away with them. So Art History is out. Artsies are so dim, they'll never even notice."
She knew, however, that she had to give out a few facts. "What we save by cutting Art History is about $99.95, plus or minus money only I know about. I know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
But Dr. Costly did know the value of spin. "We'll say that the savings from Art History will create two new programs in Studio Art. We'll call it 'New Opportunities for Students in the Arts.' No one will complain, because I'll kill the program of anyone who does.
"Never mind that they'll never get those new programs, because, you know, I have to make the tough decisions. And I always get the last laugh."
Her cronies really liked her attitude. "You're such an understanding person," they chorused. "You really are the Queen of Hearts."