Editor’s note: The majority of this piece is written in satire. All reported and factual information is in italics.
University faculty have been ignited with Griz passion since Provost Jon Harbor suggested faculty wear Griz gear and speak fondly of the University in an effort to increase enrollment and retention numbers during a series of meetings in October.
Harbor started each meeting by calmly removing his suit jacket and neatly folding it over the podium before taking off his maroon-and-white tie.
Harbor then ripped open his dress shirt to reveal an enormous tattoo of a grizzly bear scaling the iconic Main Hall clock tower, a lifeless bobcat gripped in its teeth. In the background, an American flag flies center, flanked by a Montana state flag on the left and the Union Jack on the right.
The bear’s head eclipsed the provost’s right pectoral and fresh blood oozed from its incisors. “Every morning, I face the mirror and ask myself, ‘What can I do for this University?’ I then use a butterfly knife to bleed for this University,” Harbor said, while smearing blood to form the word “GRIZ.”
A humanities professor sitting in the front row had one of the provost’s shirt buttons fly into her Griz coffee mug. “He was very engaging,” she told the Kaimin. “I didn’t realize I’d swallowed it until the next morning.”
Faculty were encouraged to utilize traditional Griz merchandise such as T-shirts, lanyards and license plates, but also to enjoy an array of new Griz products. The cutting-edge of University-themed merchandise includes snow tires, eyeglasses and resume templates. The templates have been extremely popular with faculty and staff, having been downloaded 138 times.
Student retention has been a marked goal of the University. During the presentation, faculty were motivated to praise the University and engage students and tour groups on campus. The prodding has produced results. Over Family Weekend, professors were spotted nonchalantly shadowing families before strolling up and preaching about UM.
“It was kinda weird,” one dad told the Kaimin. “My wife and I were waiting for our son to grab his wallet [from Miller Hall] and four different adults approached us to talk about Chicken Strip Night. Ben was only up there six, seven minutes.”
During the meeting, a shirtless, bleeding Harbor suggested faculty members “make [their] courses more relevant, engaging, and welcoming” to preserve the University’s current students.
One faculty member told the Kaimin he has begun welcoming students by name in the classroom, at the UC and in the bathroom. “I talk louder,” he said, “and Google memes.”
Harbor is known for sporting his Griz ball cap around campus, as well as the enormous back piece he commissioned while working at Purdue University, home of the Boilermakers. The tattoo features a train pouring out steam, bearing down on a man tied to the tracks wearing Indiana-University red and white and a cowboy hat. The engineer, bearing a striking resemblance to the provost, is leaning out the window and, in a speech bubble, is yelling, “Hoosier bloody Daddy now?”
Upon leaving the presentation, faculty members were given complimentary posters depicting a grizzly bear gripping a tree limb above the text, “Hang in there!”
The University has been ‘hanging in there’ since spring 2011 when it comes to enrollment. This fall’s freshman class is 9.3 percent less than last year’s. A possible reason: UM marketing materials were not sent to potential students who had requested information, according to a Kaimin video report in March 2018. An email from the Undergraduate Admissions Office to the Kaimin videographer expressed concern over his journalistic integrity, while affirming the distribution firm the University uses is a “well-oiled machine.”
However, in a separate October meeting, Vice President of Enrollment Cathy Cole announced she had discovered emails and snail mail were not being delivered to potential students who requested information. She described how, acting on a hunch, she signed her dog, Sherlock, up to receive marketing materials from the University.
No mail for Sherlock arrived. Cole reported she had heroically fixed the problem by telling the University’s marketing firm to hit send.
In an effort to make up for what could be years of unsent emails, faculty are required to hand write 1,000-word essays to potential students, encouraging them to attend.
Cole is understandably apprehensive about delivery systems. If you’re using an official post office-approved mailbox, she said, it kicks you out of the system. Cole plans on hand-delivering the letters to the conceivably thousands of missed students.
Locals have already received their letters. One woman told the Kaimin, “I was rereading — it was beautifully written — and realized the first letter of each paragraph spelled, ‘BOD SAVE US ALL.’”
Another potential student reported his letter appeared to be written in blood and repeated the phrase “Go Griz,” for seven pages, double-sided.
An electric chair jolt of excitement has rippled through University faculty thanks to the additional recruitment efforts. The provost’s exuberance and impressive chest piece has inspired mandated confidence, although one member of the College of Forestry told the Kaimin she was worried. “It’s total devotion,” she said. “I’m just not sure if I’m a true believer.”
After the provost’s meeting, while weak employees grappled with their faith, others excitedly rushed to the Oval, where Harbor held a bear paw-shaped branding iron over a flaming maroon trash can.