Money for Nothing

The MacArthur Fellows Program (sometimes known as the “genius grant”) never goes to the people I think it should. Of course I always think it should go to me, and not only because with a no-strings gift of $500,000, I could buy a lot of beer.

Consider my impressive credentials:

– I failed only one class: 9th grade art, spring semester
– I’m pushing the scientific boundaries of vending machine research
– I never tattooed an ex-girlfriend’s name on my body
– I understand the nuances of the dangling modifier

But (the last two paragraphs notwithstanding), this post isn’t about me. It’s about Michael Knetter, my nominee for the 2008 MacArthur Fellowship. Who’s Michael Knetter?

Knetter is the dean of the University of Wisconsin Business School. As Stephen Levitt points out in his Freakonomics blog, Knetter raised $85 million for the school by promising not to name it for the next 20 years. Levitt notes:

Apparently, Knetter is now offering a full slate of objects not to name at the business school. For $50,000, you can have a classroom not named after you. For $5,000, you can not have your name on a plaque in the entryway to the building. For those of you with a little less to give, $50 will guarantee that the urinal of your choice will go unnamed.

Brilliant!

More sustainable, too: Think of all those plaques and signage that don’t need to be produced!

I’m sure this masterstroke will immortalize Michael Knetter … just think: with the MacArthur Grant of $500,000, Knetter’s name could not appear on 10,000 urinals!

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