Monday, November 15, 2010

When Pitt Craved Credibility, Professors Adolf Grunbaum And Kurt Baier Put Their Minds To It

Much of the University of Pittsburgh's current academic credibility can be traced to two men, Adolf Grunbaum and Kurt Baier.

Post-Gazetteer Mackenzie Carpenter uses the occasion of Dr. Baier's death to remind (or inform) readers of important men and events in regional history. Pitt's doctors, lawyers and footballers attract more money and headlines, but only because scholars such as Drs. Grunbaum (left) and Baier (right) established a foundation their beneficiaries would struggle to comprehend.
I suspect that many who reject the scientific outlook . . . confusedly think that if the scientific world picture is true, then their lives must be futile because . . . man has no purpose given him from without. These people mistakenly conclude that there can be no purpose in life because there is no purpose of life; that men cannot themselves adopt and achieve purposes ..." -- Professor Kurt Baier

Infinonytune: Bruce's Philosophers Song, Monty Python's Flying Circus


Hail To Pitt said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this. You are SO RIGHT about the huge legacy of these two men and also the University's present priorities, after Dr. Grunbaum leaves us they'll probably name the department after someone who inherited a plumbing company or car dealerships.

Anonymous said...

EVer think about how doctors & UPMC & businessmen & yes the football team donate money & buildings & professorships & stuff so your philosophers get to sit around & think?

Infinonymous said...

Pitt's undergraduate students have subsidized the medical complex and athletics department for decades. The dental school has been a fiscal horror show. The UPMC relationship is an obscenely one-sided deal that disfavors the university.

Ever think about seeking a refund of any tuition you paid for English or debate classes?

MH said...

Do you have figures for any of that? I don't know the Pitt case specifically, but a school that fields top 25 men's teams can usually self-fund the athletic department.

And the medical complex is massive compared to the undergraduate education side of things. That just does not seem possible. Every scrap of undergraduate tuition couldn't be over $400 million which is less than UPMC's revenue for a month.

If you're saying that the deal should be tilted more in favor of the humanities, that's one thing. But an actual subsidy doesn't seem to fit with facts on the ground. The medical school alone (i.e. leaving aside the GSPH, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry) has over twice the faculty of the entire College of Arts and Sciences.

(Opaque disclosure: My own financial status is not entirely disconnected from the Dept. of Medicine.)

Infinonymous said...

There is a substantial distinction between medical education and medical moneymaking (except when UPMCers are masquerading as University types in pursuing donations and other funding).

Medical education? The dental school, in particular, has been a fiscal hemmorhage for decades. The medical school is a loser, too. Pitt subsidizes all of it.

Medical practice? Pitt provides the name, prestige and operational flexibility, UMPC takes the cash.

You want to make money as a University? Stick 26 undergrads in a survey course taught by a graduate student whose familiarity with English has not yet reached the term "financial exploitation" (or by an adjunct professor who is paid less than the tuition charged to a single student for that course).

You want to make money, period? Affiliate your medical complex (or athletics program) with that undergraduate institution.

Anonymous said...

I think you are seriously under counting the portion of Pitt's reputation that comes from the medical complex and over counting the portion that comes from the undergrads.

Various Pitt health sciences groups get a great deal of grant money, but that has been improving Pitt's reputation, not coasting on it. And grants (nearly $700 million this year, the vast majority in the medical field) bring in close to $700 million. Everyone of those grants that is from the feds pays a huge "indirect" to the university to cover fixed costs.

MH said...

That was me.