Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sorbonne University

Yet another reorganization/plan of cooperation/quasi-integration of several Parisian institutions of higher learning. I wish them luck. Really, Paris ought to have a great university. But I don't think it can be achieved by signing conventions. If I'm wrong, I'll not only eat my hat, I'll wear a "University of Sorbonne" sweatshirt the next time I'm in Paris, just as the French tourists I see in Harvard Square wear "University of Harvard" T-shirts that reveal that they're greenhorns fresh off the boat.

As for what needs to be done beyond signing conventions, I don't have the time even to begin a recitation of the familiar litany. I imagine, in any case, that those who are signing the conventions know these things as well as, if not better than, I do. But they don't say so out loud. It would be impolitic. So nothing happens. Five years from now we will hear that the name has been changed yet again: Sorbonne Université, ex Paris Universitas, will have become, oh, I don't know, l'Université Victor Cousin, professors will still be without offices and students without libraries or laboratories, and roofs will still be leaking. Call me a pessimist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooof. Well, when I taught at the national university in Madrid I had the distinct impression that professors were like european royalty: admired, but ignored for their toothlessness. I suspect things are somewhat different in Paris, but maybe not much.