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Steve Hansen: What do escort services and universities have in common?

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Posted: Tuesday, May 2, 2017 1:30 pm

Question: What do shady escort services and universities have in common?

Answer: They’ll both love you if you give them enough money.

No kidding. Schools of higher education have been known to name benches, buildings, hospitals — even entire schools after their generous “donors.” Solicitations just seem to come with the academic territory.

Take my old alma mater, for example. I used to get letters from the alumni association on a regular basis. But one day, a note arrived saying they were sick of me ignoring requests for panhandled funds. It included a threat that if I slighted the association one more time, I would never hear from them again.

These guys weren’t fooling around. It’s been years, and they’ve kept their word.

For all I know, failing to pay my “fair share” in donations may cause the school to deny they ever knew me. It’s good I don’t need proof of a degree to write for a living — just a good seventh grade home-schooled education.

You don’t see too many things at colleges and universities named after newspaper columnists these days. Besides, based on what we get paid, we couldn’t donate enough to get a paper plaque on a well-used fire hydrant frequented by a roving Rottweiler.

But that’s OK. We work for the love of writing and readily reject frivolous fame — not that I wouldn’t mind buying a medical or law school someday. At least I could count on free advice from the deans. That could come in quite handily in today’s era of insurance capitation and litigious lunacy.

It wasn’t always this way. There were times in the past when schools named their halls and laboratories (not to be confused with lavatories) after people who had actually contributed something to the betterment of humanity. I don’t consider making a killing in real estate foreclosures or an instant dotcom millionaire necessarily fits that category.

There’s the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (he didn’t make enough money to buy a haircut), the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and Lincoln University.

As of this date, no one has been able to remove these names and replace them with his or (rarely) her own, using an eight-figure cashier’s check. But there is still opportunity, and schools are always looking for ways to fill their coffers. It’s just a matter of time until the price is right.

Now I’m not trying to be critical here. Lord knows we all have to make a buck, and academia is no exception.

Perhaps I’m just envious, but I have used other options to try and keep my name in play for posterity.

For example, a few years ago, my wife and I donated a good sum of money to a public zoo in order to build a mountain lion exhibit.

But our quest for perpetuity was not to be. The mountain lions have gone to kitty heaven, the exhibit has become overgrown with native grasses and our bronze plaque is nowhere to be found (probably oxidizing under those native grasses somewhere).

We also are regular contributors to an automobile museum and sponsor a 1937 Cord. But the last time we were there, our plaque was gone, our car was gone and soon, so were we.

But before we left, I asked the management: “What happened to our Cord?”

“Oh,” was the reply. “We loaned it to a museum in Indiana. It should be back in a couple of years. Hope you don’t mind.”

As you can see, buying fame and immortality for us little guys is not an easy task. Without a big checkbook, we just fade into the sunset with the rest of the rubes.

But there is always optimism. I’ll keep writing my column and hope that someday, my genius will be discovered, and a multimillion-dollar book contract will be in my high-five hardened little hands.

Then I can look forward to that glorious day when my everlasting name will shine in splendor over the entrance of a prominent university washroom too!

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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