The President of Arizona State University seems to be more interested in publicity than education or the truth. Michael Crow landed media attention by forming a 21st-century Axis alliance with Starbucks. The cover story consisted of this narrative: people who cannot afford a college education on the low salaries paid at Starbucks would be helped out by Starbucks and ASU, and they could obtain university degrees that might not have been available otherwise. “It turns out Starbucks isn’t contributing any upfront scholarship money to an online college degree program it introduced this week.”
Let’s imagine what might have happened. Michael Crow, whose last name tells you a great deal, wanted to bolster ASU’s profile again. The usual means of becoming, over the course of the years, a great university were rejected in favor of a quick hit, a parasitical publicity release that would gain immediate attention. Crow perhaps needed a name to attach to the scheme. Maybe Google was busy or Gucci executives were focusing on the World Cup in Brazil. Starbucks came through, offering its name recognition and global clout. That’s what ASU needed, not the truth. No one wanted to say that Crow had prostituted ASU in a deal where the partner did not even have to put out (a dime, i.e., the hourly wage of Starbucks’ employees). Oh, wait — that last parenthetical statement is a lie, but now you are accustomed to those, thanks, according to the news report, to Michael Crow and Starbucks. At a great university, you would learn that “lying” is a synonym for “entrepreneurial.”
The genuine narrative (four paragraphs from the bottom of the AP story) uttered by Starbucks’ spokesperson Laurel Harper is that Starbucks would simply encourage employees interested in higher education to go into debt (Pell grants) to achieve their goal.