OPINION: The fault in renaming Polytech Institute, founded in 1854

October 9, 2015 By Herman Vogel For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Renaming the Polytechnic implies that this venerable institution of learning was — and is — of little consequence starting from its establishment back in 1854. Sadly, the list of distinguished alumni that have graduated from Polytechnic have suddenly and irrevocably had their accomplishments diminished by this act. By establishing such a precedent, one begs the question of how often this renaming process will now happen going forward. I’m amazed that it only took $100 million to prostitute Polytechnic’s name for the foreseeable future…For the next renaming, will the going rate double and also be subject to inflation?

One might ask: should we rename the U.S. to Kochsborough subject to the Koch brothers donating a minimum of $5 trillion to reduce our national debt. And maybe five years from now we’ll change it again from Kochsborough to Gatesborough should Bill Gates now be willing to part with at least $10 trillion to further reduce the national debt. And of course there’s probably a host of other vain people whom we should appease through this renaming rollout process. In fact, my choice would be the reigning monarch of the United Arab Republic, whom I’m sure would donate $100 trillion simply to have the U.S. be renamed to the United Arab Annex.

My congratulations to the Polytechnic Board of Directors (PBD) for their cleverness in prostituting the good name of Polytechnic into obscurity, all for the paltry sum of $100 million.

While my donations have only been under $1,000 annually, never count on my alumni donations again!

Remember that the Obama presidential campaign cleverly outdistanced all of their contenders by creating a network that amassed huge financial sums from individuals offering small donations online. PBD’s laziness coupled with their lack of visionary tactics have begun the process of destroying this ubiquitous form of financial support for sake of a quick and temporary financial fix.

I find it strange that even during Polytechnic’s demise, never mind what it represented to its alumni dating back to 1854, our current Dean was thoughtfully engaged in identifying the need for a ceremonial plan that will remember its name even while he was involved in burying Poly.

If Polytechnic were truly on its last leg financially, the proper plea would have been to “expose all and get publically naked.” Meaning you create a saturated alumni donation plea reviewing your poorly run, abysmal financial status (thoroughly document yourself as being losers) and stating that it’s up to “you” our Polytechnic alumni to reach into your pockets and keep Poly alive. Americans love honesty and the underdog, and will tolerate the proper style of begging if it’s done right!

I don’t bet, but I’ll bet you the Poly alumni response would have raised at least 10-times Tandon’s generous contribution, which required not a stich of work on the board’s part, but which obligated you to throw up your hands and give away the store’s name for a humiliating handful of pennies! You realize that the Donald Othmer family (Othmer was a Poly professor who died in 1999) gave Poly $175 million back in 1999 (inflation at 8 percent annually for 16 years values this donation at $600 million), but I don’t recollect that Poly was ever referred to as Othmer Polytechnic, do you!

I suppose those were different times, right? People then were more gracious, generous, less self-centered, less of the “me generation” and consequently respected learning institutions and their honored names. They could not, would not ever consider renaming an institution after themselves simply from an excess of vanity and personal aggrandizement.

Herman Vogel, Class of BS ’67, MS ‘68