Gary North writes regularly for the libertarian, free-market economics website I’ve been impressed by his no-nonsense, fact-filled, humour-laced style (a combination of honest businessman and high-powered professor).

Links in these articles led me to Dr North’s own website. Here, there’s free stuff and a subscribers-only area. The free stuff includes sections on college finances and study habits, both of which I found fascinating. The latter especially I found of potential practical use, especially the sections on note-taking and on writing book reports.

Somewhere amongst the numerous articles and reports, I found a reference to this Forbes article Is College Worth It?, and this New York Times 2006  one on Brand U. This article included the following, which caught my eyes as discussions about changing names (of the department, of the faculty) pop up fairly regularly in formal meetings where I work in Japan.

I RECENTLY did some research for a satirical novel set at a university. The idea was to have a bunch of gags about how colleges prostitute themselves to improve their U.S. News & World Report rankings and keep up a healthy supply of tuition-paying students, while wrapping their craven commercialism in high-minded-sounding academic blather.

I would keep coming up with what I thought were pretty outrageous burlesques of this stuff and then run them by one of my professor friends and he’d say, Oh, yeah, we’re doing that.

One of my best bits, or so I thought, was about how the fictional university in my novel had hired a branding consultant to come up with a new name with the hip, possibility-rich freshness needed to appeal to today’s students. Two weeks later, a friend called to say it was on the front page of The Times: “To Woo Students, Colleges Choose Names That Sell.” Exhibit A was Beaver College, which had changed its name to Arcadia University. Applications doubled.

There was a Japanese newspaper article on specific cases of this type in Japan just a couple of months ago which my wife pointed out to me. I’ll post the link later.

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