Life away from Rochester was once unthinkable for Joel Seligman.
Now, a year after his departure from the University, the securities lawyer and former UR president is closer to Rochester than ever before.
Just not that Rochester.
This past Friday, Seligman proudly held a groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Rochester, Minnesota campus to a shivering, befuddled throng of first-years. “Today, we bring the spirit of Meliora to the Med City!” the parka-clad president began as he went to dig the foundation of Barnes & Noble Hall. To the surprise of few, his shovel clanked against the frozen soil, the reverberations percolating up and down the nearby Zumbro river.
He proceeded to lay out his five-year plan for the university, beginning with a focus on diverse architectural practices — at least in terms of the lacquer used on each building’s respective gargantuan oaken staircase. Seligman next touched on the school’s progressive all-gender porta-potty policy, a trap remix of “The Genesee” thrown together in his free trial of FL Studio, and a UR Minny Mobile app that he just needs someone to, “you know, write a bit of code for.”
But the brunt of his speech was dedicated to outlining an unparalleled work-study program unique to the school. “You will have a prestigious opportunity here to demonstrate and hone your professional worth,” Seligman said. He elaborated that the program hinges on “constructive learning” and that students “will be able to mix their share of cement by the time [they’re] done here,” prompting some alarmed glances from the audience.
“Either that’s some long-lost euphemism for education from his Jazz Age childhood, or we just found out how this place is getting built,” first-year Hasan Farooq later said.
The school’s mascot, a totally yoked yellowjacket named Brocky, stood behind Seligman during the affair. At one point, the striped stud-muffin approached the podium, crossing a honeycomb and stinger across his chest and touting the value of “doing your part for the hive.”
Seligman then called up a special guest from the faculty section: Ted Pawlicki, who happened to be the school’s only hiree thus far without a button nose and two eyes made out of coal. “Don’t worry, I’m the other guy,” Pawlicki said, beginning to clarify that he was the one from St. Paul and not the former CS department chair, before being interrupted and ushered off the stage by Brocky.
“We support Ted and our Republican donor base,” a perturbed Seligman said. “Whatever your view on politics, we can at least agree there’s blame on both sides.”
After a methodical performance from the a cappella group Chord Commune, Seligman gave his closing remarks, reciting Molly Bloom’s 4,391-word unpunctuated soliloquy from “Ulysses.” After a long pause, he added, “ever better,” making the whole phrase somehow grammatically correct (because that’s The Rochester Effect).
The bespectacled 69-year-old then reached into the snowbank behind him to produce a Super Soaker Bottle Blitz full of Mel Sauce. For minutes on end, the trademarked chipotle-mayo mixture rained hellfire on the crowd. “There’s much, much more where that came from,” Seligman said after depleting seven industrial-sized canisters.
Many students felt betrayed after their first experiences with the school.
“I mean, I distinctly remember my ticket listing Rochester, NY as the destination,” first-year Nia Simone said afterward before succumbing to the bite. “I should’ve known something was up when they exclusively served lutefisk on the flight.”
First-year Pablo Sanchez, who’s probably always had eight fingers, was having trouble finding a silver lining. “I came here for the open curriculum,” he said. “I guess I didn’t have it in mind that I would be balancing my girder-welding minor with a cluster in Olmsted County zoning regulations.”
But some students expressed outright optimism.
“It’s still, like, basically an Ivy right?” first-year Andrea Collins said while protectively nursing her trenta caramel macchiato, because of course there’s a fucking Starbucks already. “My mom says they don’t even look at the school location on your resume as long as you use Garamond.”
First-year Josh Waterfield saw a unique opportunity. “My New Jersey fake is totally gonna work out here,” the postpubescent prepster said as he rocked the storm in a bro tank. “Once I get my ADP chapter going, they won’t even be able to kick us off campus, because there is no campus!”
Back in New York, University President Richard Feldman denies any affiliation with this renegade institution.
“Joel and I haven’t spoken since he beat me out for the cover of U.S. News & World Reports annual ‘80 University Administrators under 80’ issue,” Feldman told the Campus Times outside Wallis Hall between bites of a pumpernickel bagel with a schmear. “Where does he get the nerve? Or the funding, for that matter?”
Seligman, last seen gleefully doing donuts in snowcat with the vanity plate “Florian’ It,” could not be reached for comment.