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80. Eighty. Eight-Zero.


That’s the number of Nobel Prizes won by members of the University of Chicago faculty (there’s a new awardee today in the field of economics that brings the U of C total to four score). The situation for other institutions of higher learning was aleady dire 27 years ago when Tod Lindberg and I — first-year undergraduates at a time when the number of Nobelists was 56 — wrote a 30-minute musicale about the sole professor at the University of Chicago not to win a Nobel Prize. Our hero, Harry Murray, was forced to teach every common-core course and was, in general, treated poorly. Desperate, he figures he can win the Nobel Peace Prize if he “solves” the problem of apartheid in South Africa. Eventually, he not only wins the Peace Prize but the College of Cardinals elects him Pope, which makes him not only the first University of Chicago professor to be Pontiff, but also the only one to be Jewish (at least since Peter). Not to mention married. The last line was an invitation to the Papal Installation: “Pope and Mrs. Harry the First invite you to…dream the impossible dream.”

“Harry Murray” was never produced. The response of the head of the musical-comedy group Blackfriars? “Apartheid is not funny.”


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