Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times story by Patricia Cohen:
Among the things that Bill Marler feels passionately about are Washington State University (his alma mater), food safety and negotiation. So after he heard about a dustup on campus over the cancellation of a program requiring all freshmen to read the same book — Michael Pollan’s double-fisted examination of agribusiness, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” — he stepped in to resolve it.
This month administrators said budget cuts forced them to suspend this year’s program, but some faculty members and students were skeptical. They suspected that the decision had less to do with money than with pressure from the state’s powerful agribusiness interests.
After all, they pointed out, the university had already purchased 4,000 copies of the book (published by Penguin Press), which links the agriculture industry to obesity, food poisoning and environmental damage.
So Mr. Marler, a personal-injury lawyer who has received a Distinguished Alumnus award and served on the university’s Board of Regents for six years, figured that he would find out if money was really the issue by offering to pay the program’s estimated $40,000 shortfall. The result is that the common reading is back on.