A University’s Descent to “Becoming Snaf-u” Awaits in New Novel

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G.H. Jones portrays SNAF-U’s hilarious and desperate attempts to garner prestige

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As an administrator at a major US university, author G.H. Jones saw firsthand the anguish and hand-wringing that took place when his institution fell out of the US News and World Report’s Top 25 rankings. It occurred to him then that other universities surely had experienced the same “fall from grace,” causing him to wonder about the lengths to which they might go to get back into the US News’ Top 25. These musings led him to write a fictional account of a disgraced university’s funny, entertaining and, not to mention, desperate attempts to get back on the list, aptly titled Becoming Snaf-u.

The book takes place at Small but National, Aspiring to be Famous, University, abbreviated as SNAF-U, an obvious play on the well-known acronym which means “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.” It gives readers hilarious look at the lengths to which an American university will go to get back into the top 25 rankings. This quest for academic prestige, excellence and fame ends up leading the university and its staff down a slippery slope, wherein their descent is marked by the use of questionable methods in order to reestablish its reputation. This deceptive process betrays the very principles of higher education, all in the hopes of looking good to the unsuspecting public, emphasizing the “Aspiring to be Famous” portion of the fictitious university’s name.

“More than anything, I want the readers to have a really good laugh. Beyond that, perhaps they’ll think a bit about whether ranking systems like the one described in the novel have any real value,” Jones shares. As a dean of an American university that went through a similar “fall from grace,” his experiences make him uniquely suited to pen such a parodical account, especially when there have been some relatively recent reports of US universities manipulating data in order to look better to national news media. Thus, Jones’ fictional account of SNAF-U’s activities is certainly a relevant commentary of the American educational system.

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About the Author
G. H. Jones was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma and attend Harvard University, graduating in 1963 with a degree in Biochemical Sciences. He did graduate work in biochemistry at U.C. Berkeley, obtaining a PhD in 1968. After postdoctoral stints at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, he took a faculty position at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, rising to the rank of Full Professor in the Biology Department. He served as Associate Dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at Michigan for two years. In 1989 he moved to Emory University in Atlanta and served as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Vice President for Research. He also served as Interim Dean of Emory College during 1990-91. In 1996 he became a full-time faculty member in the Department of Biology at Emory, teaching microbiology at the undergraduate level. He was appointed Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology in 1998 and served as chair of the department from 2003-2007. He enjoys music, theater, reading, especially science fiction and non-fiction, sports and travel, often by motorcycle. He has been an avid motorcyclist for nearly 50. Jones has a daughter with an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a JD from U.C. Berkeley.

Becoming Snaf-u * by G. H. Jones
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 254 pages; 978-1-4836-1954-5
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 254 pages; 978-1-4836-1955-2
eBook; $3.99; 978-1-4836-1956-9

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