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February 5, 2018 by

Academic Grief: A Satire

A recent memo about changes in departmental budget protocols at my university included the following:

“Items not allowed under department and program budgets: Given the tightness of budgets across campus, department and program funds should only be used for expenses related to the professional work of the department. Faculty are asked to avoid expenses that are not directly related to the mission of the department or program. A few exceptions to this rule may be allowed. For example, sending flowers to the funeral of a department member or emeritus faculty is an allowable expense. When in doubt over the nature of the expense, please consult the Dean of the Faculty for approval prior to committing funds.”

While the above is real, a faux memo follows that might provide guidelines for those funeral flowers. Even the irreligious among us should pray that cost-conscious administrators do not adopt these guidelines.  

Funeral Flower Addendum to Budgetary Protocol Memo:

Whenever practicable, daisies are nice (and cheaper than more elaborate arrangements). 

To be eligible for flowers, faculty members must have served for at least 10 years. Lilies and white roses are reserved for full professors and endowed chairs.

If the funeral is held locally, department members are urged to pick flowers from the community garden. 

If the deceased faculty member was deadwood, then cost of flowers should be taken from the line item for faculty development. 

If the deceased faculty member was Jewish, a deli tray may be ordered in lieu of flowers.  However, given budgetary constraints, only egg salad and Lender’s bagels are permissible.  Smoked fish is expressly prohibited. 


Helene Meyers is Professor of English and McManis University Chair at Southwestern University in Texas. The author of three books, most recently Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness, she is currently at work on a project about Jewish American movies. Find her on Twitter: @helene_meyers


The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.