Monday, October 11, 2010


Opposite the guest house cum faculty club cum luxurious ranch house that I'm staying in that belongs to the University of Minnesota-Morris is a greenhouse, and a curious domed building that turned out to be a  tropical plant house, with tall ferns and palms and a whole gang of cheerful tropical finches flying around.   In its small and perfectly formed way it acts as a kind of synecdoche for the University as a whole - which couldn't be a more different kind of state institution from Rutgers if one had sat down and invented it.   Essentially it's a liberal arts college, 1,812 students, in the middle of agricultural eastern Minnesota - and I'd never have known about it if I hadn't been invited to give their annual Barber lecture, and had thus been given a chance to spend time with both faculty and students today, and come to see how very happy the students are.   And they showed me the horse barn!   And the original site was a Native American boarding school, so there's all that side to its history, too.   I'm so lucky - these are a great few weeks coming up for academically inflected travel ...

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