Monday, July 28, 2014

Three Students And One Faculty Member Officially "Give Up" After Tussle With Student-Invited Guest Lecturer

Chapel Hill, NC


Students and faculty alike at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill were thrilled when world-renowned chemist Alex “Bleu” Hillcamp from Cal Tech agreed to speak at the student invited lecture series this year. Among the chief reasons for selecting Bleu as the speaker this year, fifth year student Jacob Killerap commented that “his work is renowned, he gives great lectures, and Bleu is supposed to be a helluva nice guy”. This view was shared with other graduate students on the selection committee and a number of the faculty members. It has come to light at the time of writing that an older faculty member and a curmudgeon of a man had spoken out about inviting his arch nemesis to speak on campus. 

He was promptly ignored.

Unfortunately for a number of students who had a chance to meet with Bleu, and one faculty member, the old timer’s warning couldn’t have been more apt. After a lecture that most agreed was a wonderful presentation of his work, but gave no credit to the people actually doing the work, the students had a chance to show Hillcamp what they were made of. “I should have realized what I was walking into,” commented Becky Upton, a third year student, upon recalling a student running out in tears as she was awaiting her turn to present.  

“I figured the student was a softy and I had just ran a successful column so I was riding the high”, but that high ended for Upton quicker than her KMnO­4 can develop olefins on a TLC.  “First Blue complained about my use of PowerPoint because ‘real chemists do it with chalk’. I was presenting my work on protein catalysis, how can I draw that in five minutes?”  

The barrage of insults escalated from there until Bleu exclaimed in a fit of anger that Hillcamp “wasn’t speaking as a chemist, but as a biologist” and commented that she should resign from her research group. Hillcamp has no intention of following this recommendation, but others were not as lucky.

Similar events to this continued all afternoon until Bleu had successfully discouraged three students to the point that they have sworn off chemistry for good. One student, a fourth year at the time, had started working as a psychiatrist’s assistant for the free treatment.  Although Bleu was pretty satisfied with himself, he didn’t stop there. When the faculty took him out for dinner that night a mid-career tenured faculty member, Prof. Donaldson, ordered the table a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. Bleu was having seafood for dinner and seized the moment because “any idiot should know that you take Gewurztraminer with tuna”. 

After attacking his poor knowledge of wine, Bleu removed a manila envelope bulging with papers and found Donaldson’s last four publications. There at the table he went line-by-line discussing errors and poor grammar decisions until Donaldson resigned on the spot and ran out of the restaurant. Prof. Donaldson could not be reached for comment. Needless to the say the department is very distraught over the event and the chair of the department has placed a hold on all invited lectures until metal health evaluations of all students and faculty can be assessed.

No comments:

Post a Comment