ms.conway | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

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Recent Comments

Re: “UCA Board buying out Meadors' contract for $525,000

Dear Max,

Plenty of people in Conway were upset about the waste of money on campus concerning those bricks, the presidential residence updates to the updates Lu Hardin had made, etc. I imagine that's why Ms. Shelton was reporting on those things -- reporting on them, I stress, not editorializing. Then we could argue (and we did) about whether the money was ill spent or it wasn't. Why is that overblown?

You could just send your tips about Conway to the Log Cabin instead of to her in the future, and you wouldn't have to be bothered reading in your morning paper about anything that happens outside of Little Rock, except the scandals.

I'm sure she likes and appreciates you just fine. So do I.

Board retreats are routine in state government, but it's still a tiny outrage that taxpayers have to pay for consultants to come in and tell board members how to finesse the press, how to weather faculty governance controversies, etc. If UCA's board of trustees had been to fewer of those retreats, we might not be in the mess we're in now.

As for the aesthetics, absolutely, I agree with you. Just as cathedrals draw the heart up to the divine and the awesome, so can beautiful landscaping and architecture inspire and sustain. Architecture, in that way, can tell what a university stands for much better than any brochures or recruiters can. I would argue that if you visit the UCA campus, you'll see that its newer buildings, while grand, reflect a distinct lack of imagination and appreciation for knowledge; they're as steroidal-looking and devoid of thought as McMansions. Thompson Hall, the building that houses the writing program, looks exactly like a bank. On top of the physical therapy building there's a phallic cupola that has a huge spike rising out of the top; we call it Win's Weenie.

Drafty old Main Hall, by contrast, has that marvelous auditorium in it with a statue of Ida Waldron at the entrance. Everything there is in scale, everything seems built to be a background to the education of students, not to remind them that they're indistinguishable from one another; and there are big old windows that really open (or at least, they used to; I hope they, too, haven't been sealed shut). Maybe students (consultants will tell the board of trustees at their retreats that these are customers; they used to call us scholars) will be inspired enough by the new buildings to be generous alumni. How many people give generously to the nicest hotel they ever stayed at?

It's the soul of the campus that stays with you. The pecan grove at Hendrix, for example, reflects some knowledge of what feeds the human spirit, and it's unique to the school. UCA's campus is like a west Conway subdivision; you build it because everyone else has it.

The last UCA president to have the right priorities was Jeff Farris. The campus reflects that well, in my opinion.

Posted by ms.conway on 09/02/2011 at 10:11 PM

Re: “UCA Board buying out Meadors' contract for $525,000

Dear Max,

I've been disappointed by your tone regarding Debra Hale-Shelton's coverage of UCA. Now that she's once again uncovered a money scandal involving a UCA president, you're giving her credit, but a couple of weeks ago on this blog, when she was doing the grunt work that led to the revelation -- carefully monitoring how the university chose to spend taxpayer money and whether they were being forthright about it-- I thought you seemed dismissive and bored with the whole thing. If you'd been her editor, would you have told her two weeks ago to lay off the issue of spending at UCA?

The chief objection I keep hearing to Ms. Hale-Shelton's reporting is that it singles UCA out for scrutiny. I don't think it does that; instead, I think it underlines how little solid, shoe-leather reporting goes on these days. What she's done in her reporting hasn't been piling on on UCA, it's just been keeping them honest, which is what I thought was the beat reporter's ongoing responsibliity.

When Jay Meisel covered the same beat for the Democrat-Gazette back in the day, his reporting was every bit as thorough, comprehensive and detailed as Debra Hale-Shelton's is now; but back then it didn't stick out like a sore thumb.

Am I misremembering?

Posted by ms.conway on 09/02/2011 at 6:58 PM

Re: “Blanche Lincoln wins!

I voted against Blanche Lincoln, but I was in the minority among my 50-something book club circle; most of them have progressive leanings much more in line with Bill Halter, BUT they got mad when they thought the media beat up on their girl Hillary, and they'll never live long enough to get over it. I think their newfound determination to support women candidates from now till the grave goes a long way toward explaining Blanche Lincoln's surprise win and Joyce Elliott's unlikely high numbers (I voted for her, but only after Robbie Wills sent that odious mailer to my Conway home). Not nearly as much said about this "yoga granny" voting demographic on TV (I don't think MSNBC, etc. think our women think for themselves down here) as was said about incumbent anger, outside money, conservative vs. liberal preferences -- but these ladies who lunch have ALWAYS turned out to vote, and they MEAN it with this latent feminism, trust me. I think they will be a bigger factor than people are saying.

Posted by ms.conway on 06/08/2010 at 11:05 PM


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