Yea, though much of this tale is enlivened with levity and laughter, and will continue to be, the circumstances of The Illidge coming to UCO, and his presence there enriching students and faculty, were blemished with injustices that would anger his colleagues and mystify anyone not drugged by the inanity of so-called “higher education.” This is a melancholy tale that is difficult to relate for the scribe, The Clark, so readers should be suspect of his detachment and aware of his anger, but not his heart and his truthfulness.
The Illidge, after more than three decades of successful advertising experience, completed his master’s degree at The Wichita State University, and became chair of the Elliott School of Journalism there. Even though he “only” had a master’s degree from the institution, the faculty elected him to lead them, because of his excellence teaching and skill and experience in media. Assured by his superiors that he was secure, even without research into meaningless subjects and publications in arcane “academic” journals that nobody could or would read, he continued. But administrators and their words are like America’s treaties with Indians…does the symbol of a forked tongue cometh to mind?
So with a change in administration, The Illidge found himself, at age 60, out of a job, because he didn’t have a “terminal” degree to add to the academic status of said so-called institution of higher learning. What The Illidge did have, was a terminal degree of a different sort, a long-term form of Leukemia.
He sent out about 100 resumes, seeking a teaching position, and though they would deny it, no one called because of his age—except one. It was then, in the early 1990s, that The Clark called, from a university journalism program two and a half-hours south of The Illidge’s comfortable Wichita home. What The Clark and his faculty knew was that they needed an advertising professor who knew hands-on advertising. A doctoral degree was useless if the holder had no experience in the area he was teaching, or at least so his faculty believed, despite protestations by their administration.
Unfortunately, The Clark could only get The Illidge hired at the low level of lecturer, instead of as associate professor as he would be ordained at any real university. But lower level inferior universities are, perforce, great pretenders when it comes to trying to delude themselves that they are equal to their superiors. Hence they add more and more academic nonsense to their rules and regulations, and anyone without a “terminal degree” cannot be accorded the status they deserve. This myopia is particularly damaging to journalism programs, where experience in the fields in which you teach is worth more than a mere academic degree. The Clark was trying to build an advertising program beneficial to students, not academics, and his faculty agreed. The Illidge was grateful for the job, but the low ranking and pay was grievous to him till his death, and still is to The Clark, who now is almost inured to academic nonsense.
Thus The Illidge came to UCO, and his demanding standards soon lifted the advertising program to new heights, and led to the discovery of The Booth. There were more tears to follow.
To be continued…