The Overachiever Awards (Rolling Stone 8/27/84)

THE ROBERT VESCO SELF-IMPROVEMENT THROUGH GRANT THEFT, EMBEZZLEMENT, FORGERY AND IMPERSONATION FELLOWSHIP (includes one-way fare to Costa Rica): Edgar P. Berube, New England College, Beloit College, Iowa State University

Fraternity brothers at the University of New Hampshire thought he was a member of the Kennedy clan. The admissions counselor at Beloit College was convinced he was a scion of the DuPont family. Friends at New England College were led to believe he was a grandson of millionaire industrialist Armand Hammer, and he even managed to establish a joint checking account under his supposed wealthy grandfather’s name.

Indeed, Edgar P. Berube was well on his way to establishing himself as the greatest confidence man in the annals of campus crime when the cops caught up with him last September.

In 1978, he was boasting to his fellow fraternity members at the University of New Hampshire that he was a nephew of Senator Edward Kennedy — a ruse that quickly made Berube a very big man on campus. Berube soon discovered that he needed money — in addition to chutzpah — to maintain his new beautiful-person status, so he began trading in on his illustrious alias to borrow money and establish credit.

When aggrieved creditors became suspicious, Berube dropped out of sight, only to turn up later at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he successfully applied for admission. Why, anything for a DuPont!

By the time it was all over — six years and four campuses later — Berube had stolen or embezzled some $200,000 from students, administrators, and miscellaneous townspeople in Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Financial-aid applicants interested in the “Berube plan” can write him directly at the New Hampshire State Prison, where he is serving 15 to 30 years for conviction on 10 counts of forgery and fraud.

THE PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY ANTIFEMINIST ENDOWMENT: Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia

Washington and Lee University has been, in recent times, the only private liberal-arts college of any eminence to refuse to admit women. Twice during the past fifteen years, the trustees tried to go coed; both times, the red-blooded Southern gentlemen of this 235-year-old institution resisted fiercely.

Worried that the quantity and quality of freshmen applicants were declining, administrators tried once again this year. But a survey showed that more than fifty percent of Washington and Lee’s 1700 students were still adamant about keeping Washington and Lee sexually segregated. In fact, outrage motivated some eighteen of the more doctrinaire antifeminists to stage a sit-in at President John D. Wilson’s office. A college spokesman said the men were quite emotional, but “well dressed and polite.”

Despite the survey, the college’s trustees are opening the doors to women next fall and bracing themselves for more protests when the chauvinists return to campus.

THE GOOD TASTE IN UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING CITATION: Editors emeritus, New Mexico State University yearbook

During the early 1900s, editors of the New Mexico State University yearbook decided to call their annual publishing effort”The Swastika.” Nothing nefarious about that — at least not at the time. The swastika was just an ancient Greek symbol, appropriated over the centuries by numerous cultures, including several American Indian tribes.

But when Adolf Hitler made it his logo, the editors steadfastly refused to abandon their besmirched standard. Even years after the Holocaust, they were still blithely insisting that, to them, the four-armed cross connoted only good times and friends. It was not until last year that the university board of regents finally stepped in.

New Mexico State now has a new yearbook: “The Pheonix.”

THE RIN TIN TIN ADVANCEMENT AND CANINE INTERESTS MEDALLION: Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Eleanor Ritchey, millionaires and Quaker State Oil heiress, had a thing about dogs.

When she died in 1968, she had 150 of them. And each and every one was well provided for in her will — as was Auburn University, after a fashion.

The will named the university as Ritchey’s chief beneficiary and chief custodian of the dogs. Auburn could collect interest on the heiress’ millions as long as the moneys were used, at least in part, to take care of the dogs; but the capital could not be touched until the last pet’s demise.

Hence the joyous reaction at Auburn when Ritchey’s one surviving pooch, a mutt named Musketeer, woofed his last in June. All told, the dog’s death gave the university a windfall of $11 million.

There was one catch. All the money must be used for small-animal research.

THE ANDY KAUFMAN EXTREMISM IN DEFENSE OF LUDICROUSNESS AWARD: Stephen H. Schoettler, Barrett Davis, University of California at Berkeley

Berkeley students hurrying to class one morning last spring were startled to look up at the campus giant clock and see that it was–Mickey Mouse time! Two enthusiastic Berkeley Mouseketeers, Stephen Schoettler and Barrett Davis, had made their way up the 30-foot clock tower the previous night and enrobed the hands of the university clock with a gigantic plywood likeness of the famous mouse, complete with white gloves to point to the time. The campus landmark was thus temporarily converted into the world’s largest Mickey Mouse watch.

Campus police apprehended the pranksters in no time at all. Schoettler had fallen off his rope, plunged forty feet to the ground and, though he was not seriously injured, lay crumbled nearby. Davis was outside the campanile’s observation area, still perched on a narrow ledge!

THE JOSEPH STALIN CAMPUS GOVERNANCE PRIZE: Olivet Nazarene College, Kankakee, Illinois

What’s there to do at the Oliver Nazarene College?

Well, what you can’t do is all spelled out in the Resident Campus Philosophy: “Students must refrain form attending the commercial, motion-picture theater, dances, secular rock concerts, discotheques, nightclubs, taverns and similar forms of entertainment–” Other than that, do whatever your heart pleases.

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