Dear Readers: Please continue and enjoy this post; then check out Now We Know What Darrel Did! EXPANDED AND ENHANCED EDITION! for the thrilling denouncement and trenchant commentary.
The ides of May have come and gone, so for the next several weekends we’ll be inundated with feel-good stories about college grads so newly commenced that the sheen from their alma maters’ placentae is still visible. I wish those women and men prosperous and happy lives. Amidst all the sweetness and light that envelopes graduation day—a truly joyous moment in the academic calendar—however, it’s business as usual for those the new baccalaureates leave behind.
Consider this juicy item, for instance.
Way out west in Wyoming, Laramie County Community College (LCCC) president, the poetry-writin’, hook-baitin’, cracker barrel philosopher Darrel Hammon, is in hot water. To answer your first question: no. Darrell Hammond is the Saturday Night Live guy. Darrel “One ‘L,’ No ‘D’” Hammon is the college president.
To answer your second question, “what’d the other Darrel do?”: I don’t know. It’s all very mysterious. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reports—and Inside Higher Ed passes on—that LCCC has denied a Freedom of Information request for a report detailing irregularities that took place on a 2008 student trip to Costa Rica, chaperoned by President Hammon. The Tribune-Eagle primly notes that, “Testimony given at a recent employee hearing noted that some of the report was critical of the president.” The comments that follow the story are not so discrete. Says “I Went to Costa Rica”: “I saw first-hand [how] badly Hammon messed-up….”
LCCC, in refusing to comply with the FOI request, cites FERPA (Federal Education Right to Privacy Act, which gives students certain guarantees to keep some information about them confidential) as its reason for withholding the report. This is stonewalling, pure and simple. Even if I didn’t know that FERPA protects students, not college presidents, I would recognize the stonewalling because, I blush to admit, it was a big part of my former life as a college administrator, and I was very, very good at it.
The stonewalling here is not good. Hiding behind FERPA encourages lurid suspicions. “The college can’t release the document,” says the Tribune-Eagle, “because it identifies a student, [college spokeswoman] Hoglund wrote in a letter to Bruce Moats, attorney for the newspaper.” So now, thanks to Loose Lips Hoglund we know that whatever President Hammon did in Costa Rica involved a student. Let’s let our imaginations run wild, shall we?
Methinks President Hammon and his Central American fiasco is a subject I’ll be revisiting once the report is released or leaked, as inevitably it will be. So for now I will leave you with samples of his poetry and his thoughts about the natural world that I gleaned from his blog. Those of you with strong stomachs may also wish to visit his Facebook page.
Here’s an excerpt from “Life Can Be Such a Jab,” his credo in free verse:
I tread on,
like a good trooper,
finally realizing that I control
change, I control my life,
and sometimes it doesn’t go
the way I thought it would,
but it goes
and I go with it.
You have to admire the mind and the ego at work here: I am in charge the poet says, except when I am not, but in that case I will say I am.
Here’s President Hammon musing about the cycle of life:
The entire lawn, in fact, looks like one giant field, now covered in snow. Gone is any semblance that spring might be oozing its way through winter. Even the north window is plastered halfway up with that thick, sticky snow.
But I remember back to this morning as I sat complacently at the breakfast table, eating a blueberry bagel, smothered with strawberry cream cheese, and spooning Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats with vanilla bunches, methodically into my mouth, while watching Mr. Robin, sitting atop the fence.
Ah, the snows may blanket the earth many times before true spring finally throws off the shackles of winter. But I know that spring is here for the robins have returned, and the green things are just biding their time while singing soft lullabies beneath the snow.
I especially like the part where the president placidly masticates Honey Bunches of Oats, and I appreciate his keen eye for the evocative, aromatic detail of the vanilla clusters.
Something is giving off an aroma at LCCC; here’s hoping the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle keeps sniffing to find out what it is.