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    Home / College Guide / SATURDAY STORY - NED MORRISON - JULY 2ND
     Posted on Saturday, July 02 @ 00:00:05 PDT
    College

    SATURDAY STORY - NED MORRISON - JULY 2ND For the last several weeks I’ve been writing fiction on Saturday. It follows Ned Morrison, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse. ***** It was one of the fall transition days, cold, rainy, and windy. The weather was trying to say “Better fly south now” to the birds, and to the Wisconsin and Minnesota “Snow Birds” who go to Texas or Florida for the winter and come back in the spring. Ned Morrison got a phone call at 4:30 from Brian Schulz. His campus phone was listed on the faculty directory page. Ned did give out his home phone to students - after all, they were, at least indirectly, his employers. Brian started, “Hello, is this Professor Morrison?” Ned said “Yes”. Brian continued, “Professor Morrison, I am being released from the mental ward at 5:00 today. I hate to impose, but could you pick me up? It is a little nasty and I don’t have any money for a cab or Uber.” Ned checked his watch. Yes, 4:30, he could pick up Brian at 5:00. Ned responded, “Yes, I’ll be there at 5:00. See you soon”. Brian sounded different - happier, more confident. “Thank you so very much Professor Morrison”.

    He sounded very sincere to have the ride. Ned thought about asking Mavis Larson, the dean, who was also his girlfriend along, but then decided against it. Brian needed a friend and a mentor now and he would be able to talk candidly with Ned and Mavis might just be in the way. Ned did text, Mavis. “I’m going to pick up Brian Schulz from the Mental Wing at Gunderson Hospital. I think he needs somebody to talk to.” ***** Mavis had her hands full anyway. Three students had been in to complain about Professor Rolfe. Seemingly, Professor Rolfe gave impossibly tough tests and these three said they had failed the test and most of the class also had failed it. Mavis couldn’t believe that most of his class failed it, but she had the duty to investigate. It wouldn’t be the first time she had talked with Professor Rolfe about harsh grading. He had a philosophy of grading hard for the mid-term test, and then at the end of the semester ‘curving’ the grades to balance things out. Mavis knew that it scared some students away and his reputation was strict. ***** Amanda Zilinski and Lori Rohn were trying to do research on the economic impact of mental health on communities. There just wasn’t good data on positive mental health, but too much data on poor mental health.

    School shootings were generally with poor mental health - former students who were bullied and finally cracked and wanted to shoot up the schools that didn’t find appropriate health for me. Negative mental health was behind rape, spousal abuse, and even some aspects of dementia. How could they narrow it down? Looking just at rape, 90% of all rapes were done by one person. 99% of all rapes were done by males. Of rape victims, 91% were females, and 9% were males. There were some small research studies that the victims of rape were timider. The two of them had a week to get their topic approved by Professor Morrison, then six weeks to do the research and write the paper. Amanda was younger and asked Lori, “Why do professors assign term papers?” Lori had a ready answer. “Amanda, in the future, we will bump into all kinds of situations that require thinking skills. My psychology professor talked of something called Bloom’s Taxonomy where higher levels of thinking - like analysis and synthesis - can make the difference between leadership and just following. The professors like to push us outside our comfort zone so we can learn and grow.” Amanda answered back, “Yah. But it is just a lot of work and research and writing.

    I’m not a good writer.” After a pause, Amanda added, “Lori, I’m glad you’re my partner on this project. I appreciate you. I got into college with reasonable grades, but I wasn’t a stellar student in high school.” Lori smiled and gave Amanda a hug. “Amanda, I pretty much flunked out my freshman year in college. After that year, I joined the Army for four years, picked up medic skills, and came back to college ready to learn. This is my second year back and last year I got all A’s - but I worked hard on it. I’m more mature than I was at 18 years old. And, learning from a drill sergeant who is yelling at you right in your ear wasn’t my favorite way of learning.” She laughed. ***** Ned Morrison parked his car in the Gunderson Lutheran Hospital near the mental health wing. He checked in with the clerk. Ned said, “I’m Professor Ned Morrison and I’m here to pick up Brian Schulz.” The clerks, whose name tag said “Victoria Keith” greeted him. “Thank you for coming in, Professor Morrison. Dr. Nyugen wants to speak with you before you pick up Brian.” Ned nodded and asked, “Should I wait for him in this area?” Victoria said, “Actually, he is already waiting for you.

    Just a minute”. She picked up her phone and pressed three buttons and said “Ned Morrison is here Dr.”. She seemed to listen to her response and said “She’ll be right out”. Almost instantly the door at the right of the receptionist opened and out stepped a woman dressed in doctor’s clothes. She approached Ned and said, “Dr. Morrison, please come with me”. There was something vaguely familiar about Anne Nguyen to Ned Morrison. His brain was running through his own unique search engine options. She led him into a hallway and down to a door. She used her ID card from around her neck to open the door and they were in a small conference room with four chairs. Already there was a man who looked up at Ned as he entered. “Ned, Good to see you again”. It was Casey Brisbane, former president of the “UWL Club” - the athletic support organization between the campus and the community. Ned greeted Casey warmly, “Hey Casey. Good to see you!!!” Ned knew that Casey was a doctor at Gunderson Hospital, but he really didn’t know what department. And, that nudged Ned into placing Anne Nguyen in his memory. She had come with Casey to a few of the UWL Club lunches at the Student Union.

    She looked like she could have been an athlete and that she still was. Then another brainwave - Anne Nguyen also rode her bike on rare occasions with the LaCrosse Cycling group. Casey seemed to be in charge, with Anne more familiar with Brian Schulz’s situation. ***** Casey started, “Ned, I don’t know what you said or did on Monday night with Brian, but it really helped. Anne had done the main interview with Brian on Monday morning, and ….”. He stopped mid-sentence - and turned to Anne, and said, “Anne - you know this situation more than I do.” Anne smiled and started. “I did the main interview with Brian on Monday at nine o’clock. He was definitely depressed, antagonistic towards me, and negative towards life. He angrily talked of his father using some strong words, jerk, asshole, deadbeat, and even worse. He talked about his mother’s death from cancer and how terrible his dad had been. He talked about how worthless his life was, and how suicide was the best option for him - get it over and get it done. “We did a little blood work to determine what antidepressant might work best for him. I prescribed Zoloft - which generally is pretty low level and not habit-forming.

    That afternoon, I watched him and had some of the staff try to engage him - nothing. “Then you came that evening and talked with him, and prayed with him. Something must have clicked as Tuesday he was a changed person. He joined in the activities. There was a time for reflection in the afternoon, and Brian seemed to be doing a life plan, what he wanted to do with his life. “He asked for a Bible to read that evening. I don’t know what he read. In the Bibles, we have reading suggestions in the front. One of the staff wandered by and asked what he was reading. He seemed to be rapt in his reading and looked up when asked. He said something about being fearlessly and wonderfully made. I sensed that church and religion were not part of Brian’s life growing up. “Then yesterday morning, he asked to talk with me. We had a wonderful visit. He talked about forgiving his dad, loving and remembering his mom, being the best he could be, about changing his life, being a better student, a better lacrosse player, and a better friend. He talked about your visit and how he appreciated you. “I’ve seen phony over the years where patients try to beat the system by acting nice so they can get out, but I’m pretty certain that Brian was being honest and something had changed.

    “Yes, we are going to dismiss him, but we are going to impose on you (and I’m not sure it will be an imposition). We want you to be his mentor, his friend, and an encourager for Brian. We also want you, ah, to be kind of a spy for us. If you sense he isn’t genuine, let us know. He will still be on his medicine for depression. We understand you are a faculty advisor for his fraternity and that you have had Brian in class in the past, so hope you can help us help him by doing whatever you did on Monday night with him. Ned was listening earnestly. There was a battle in his brain. The negative side was screaming “don’t do it, you are already too busy to take on being a mentor to Brian, and he is really a basket case and you’re not even sure you like him. You have papers to write for journals and conferences, you seem to be getting into a relationship with Mavis, and you are busy enough with that dumb fraternity. If you do this, it will probably cut into your time with Josh Kinross going to football games and watching football games. You won’t be riding your bike as much. You’ll get fat and lazy if you do this. This will probably cost you money and time. And for what? Not much in return.

    ” But, the positive side of Ned’s brain was quietly saying, “You became a professor to be a mentor to students, to guide them, help them.” The good person deep inside of Ned put these words in his mouth, “I can try to work with Brian”, but then that good person inside him corrected him “I can do it”. Anne said “Fantastic”, and the smile on her face beamed. “Let me go and get him”. ***** Mavis Larson found Joe Rolfe in his office with the door open. Mavis knocked and Joe looked up and said “Hi Mavis! Come in”. Mavis went in and closed the door most of the way, leaving it open just a little. Although she didn’t anticipate it, she had it hammered into her brain ‘Never be with a student or a faculty member alone with the door closed’. Joe looked at Mavis and said, “I can guess why you are here. Yes, I gave a tough test. These are accounting majors in a cost accounting class and I want to be proud of them. I want them to be pros and get top jobs. Some students breezed through managerial accounting and financial accounting, but all of a sudden find themselves as accounting majors and say ‘How did I get here?’. I want this to be a ‘rite of initiation’ - where they really KNOW they are accountants.

    I handed back the papers today and, okay, I read them the riot act. You know I’m trying to motivate them and after this first test, it is a negative motivation - where I tell them if they really are going to be accounting majors they need to be serious.” He pulled a test out from a stack on his desk and handed it to Mavis. Mavis had taught accounting so the material was not new. Joe said, “Look at question 1, if they read the question carefully they will see that it is a simple inventory evaluation issue. Now, look at Josie’s test in your hand. She didn’t understand that it was a simple inventory problem. Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns, she grabbed it by the tail and immediately got into trouble.” Mavis could see the approach taken by Josie on the test. It really wasn’t a tough question, but she knew that some students wouldn’t take the time to do the correct approach. Joe continued, “And number 2 involves a straightforward foreign exchange situation. With the number of items made around the world these days, being able to change Euros or Yen into Dollars is expected of accountants.” He continued for the rest of the ten questions. Joe then said, “So I hand back the tests and, boom, they missed too many, they feel worthless, they are considering changing majors, and I worked every problem out in class.

    Some will get the message (that I told them for the past two weeks - they needed to study for the test) and on the next test will be ready to tackle the problems. Some aren’t quite ready to understand that accounting is a great major and career and understand that accountants regularly work 60 to 70-hour weeks - because it does take time. If they don’t want to take the time, maybe they need to change their major.” Joe looked at Mavis. Mavis knew that Joe was right. Some students picked accounting as a major but weren’t really serious yet. She knew that if Ernst and Young or Deloitte hired them, they wouldn’t make it. Mavis replied, “I know you are right, Joe, but how can we work with the students without hammering them on this test? Can you throw a couple of lobs to them? A couple of easy questions? If they get a “C” in this course, Ernst and Young won’t hire them for internships, but they might get jobs in government or doing taxes for H&R Block.”. They talked for another forty minutes about getting the students to really embrace the accounting field. Joe said he had Shannon Wright, the Deloitte recruiter come to class and give the students the ‘horror’ stories about the long hours, and give them the success stories of making partners.

    And, Joe promised to make his tests a little more user-friendly. ***** Mavis walked back to her office, maybe a bit sheepish. She, too, remembered some of her professors that make classes too easy as well as those that challenged the students. It can be a tough balance - how to challenge students without frustrating them and how to find appropriate learning for the students that struggle. Mentally she wrote on her calendar to stop and see Joe before his mid-term test spring semester. He was a great teacher of serious accounting majors and maybe should be at a campus where that was more important, like the University of Wisconsin at Madison - the “flag-ship” of the University of Wisconsin system. ***** Max Winthrop called the campus rape hotline. “Hello, campus rape hotline” was the cheerful greeting. Max returned with “Hi. Last week I saw a guy that just seemed suspicious before the rape near Howie Bar. Something just didn’t seem right. It’s probably nothing, but the guy had all black on, including black shoes, but on his right knee, there was a little triangle cut in his pants. I was with some friends at the bar after the football game and this guy was in the back all alone.

    Twice when a girl walked to the restroom, he kind of followed them down the hallway. He nursed a beer for about two hours.” The hotline receptionist asked, “Did he have any particular shirt on?” Max said, “No. Just all black - shirt pants, shoes. He had a backpack with him, but I didn’t see him get anything out or put anything into it.” The hotline receptionist said “Thank you. There is a reward for information if it leads to an arrest. Are you willing to share your name and phone number if this helps the investigation?” Max gave her his name and phone number. She thanked him for his information and added, “I’ll pass this on to the campus police department. We want to stop this.” Max hung up. Well, that didn’t seem like it did anything. Oh well, he had done his civic duty!! Elisa Gonzales took the note down and recognized the clue. The tear in the pants. It hadn’t been put in the news article in the campus newspaper, The Racquet Press - but here was somebody who mentioned a strange man with all black on with a tear in his pants. She took the note to officer Tina Perez. Tina asked her about it and Elisa filled her in. Tina said, “This might be the clue to break this case.

    ” ****** Anne Nguyen brought Brian Schulz into the meeting room. Ned stood up and gave Brian a quick hug. He said, “Gee Brian, you’re looking good”. Brian blushed. Anne introduced Casey Brisbane to Brian and said “You know Professor Morrison”. Brian nodded yes. Anne said, “Brian, we’ve asked Professor Morrison to be a mentor for you. We know you two already have a relationship and we have been talking with Professor Morrison about helping you out. We’d like to have you and Professor Morrison talk at least once a week - maybe have a cup of coffee or a coke and he will be glad to help out. We are going to release you to him.”. Brian smiled and said, “That would be great. Professor Morrison is an advisor to our fraternity group and was the only one who stopped and visited me here. I admire him.” Casey took over. “Then, that’s settled. Brian is there anything you need to get?”. Brian laughed, “Well, I’m wearing the same clothes I wore when I arrived. So, my phone, wallet, and keys are about all I don’t have”. Casey said to Anne, “Could you get Brian’s phone, wallet and keys”, and Anne left to get them. Casey continued in a low voice. “Brian, this is kind of an unusual agreement.

    We’d like to see you have success and finish college. We’d also like to see you get back into lacrosse and campus activities. I’ve known Ned, um, Professor Morrison for several years and it seems you two get along well. I know life has been tough with your mother dying and your father not being involved in your life, and while Professor Morrison isn’t your father, we think he will be like a father figure to you. But, if he suspects something is wrong, he will call me, and we’ll find a halfway house for you.” Brian answered slowly. “The last few days have been a giant wake-up call for me. I just about jumped off that bridge. I’m not quite sure if it is God or what, but I’m eager to work with Professor Morrison and get things straightened out.” Casey turned to Ned and asked, “Ned, is this okay with you?” Ned answered firmly, “Absolutely”. Casey said, “Great”. Casey stood, and Ned and Brian stood. Anne arrived with Casey’s phone, wallet, and keys. Ned gave Brian another side hug, they both shook Casey and Anne’s hands and they walked with Anne to the door.

     
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