"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Old College Try

For forty years, George Mason has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the Virginia public university system. Never mind that their economics department boasts the same number of Nobelists as Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Cambridge, and Columbia. Never mind that GMU Law, despite its relative youth, has been a firmly established first tier school for five years. Locals still mock them as "The Best Community College in Northern Virginia." Their reputation as a nest of foaming right-wingers -- which in academic terms means filing an amicus curiae brief in support of DoD in Rumsfeld v. FAIR, the side that ultimately won 8-0 at the Supreme Court -- hasn't helped.

But yesterday they got a shot at strange new respect, courtesy of the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. The Patriots (I told you they were Neanderthal reactionaries) upset reigning national champion North Carolina to gain a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. Perhaps now, at least, people outside Washington DC will not hear the words "George Mason" and think, "Master of subtle understated evil Xander Berkeley."

5 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Kathy, I was exposed to the wonders of Buchanan's public choice economics at FSU and haven't been the same since. For years, I wore a George Mason University cap as a tribute to the conservative encampment there. It's unbelievable to see them doing so well in March Madness.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Depending on the timeline, Hunter, I might easily have been one of your formative influences too. I interviewed for a joint appointment in demography and economics at FSU in 1986, and barely missed out on getting the job. It must have been Jim Gwartney that Buchananized you? He seemingly could not warm to the task of roasting me over hot search committee coals, and when he found out I was a tomboy, spent 45 minutes describing Tallahassee's best fishing spots to me.

Matt Huisman said...

Count me in on the George Mason love. I must say that I really enjoyed seeing the Tar Heels lose that game - especially the part where Roy Williams grabbed the folding chair and slammed it into the ground (coming dangerously close to a Bobby Knight moment).

It was Williams (while at Kansas) who poisoned the officiating with his cry baby tactics that led to the the Illini fouling out half their team against Arizona (after beating Kansas) a couple years back.

And last year Williams' band of mercenaries stole what was rightfully ours in the title game.

(Not that I hold a grudge or anything.)

Hunter Baker said...

Kathy, you're right on timeline-wise. I was at FSU from 1988 through 1991. Gwartney was the beginning of my Buchananization (James, not Pat for the uninitiated) and Randall Holcombe drove it home permanently. It would be amazing if we'd reunited through this blog rather than met for the first time.

James Elliott said...

George Mason has a very well-respected international studies department. Back when I thought international relations might be more my bailiwick, it was one of the schools I considered for my graduate degree.