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In the fall semester of 1995 Professor Donahue and Chief Biggs investigated the murder of Dean Wooda. The surprising result became stranger as new bodies and new suspicions appeared each semester. By 1997 even those who had seen the dean’s corpse off for cremation were wondering when his ghost would cease to haunt the drafty halls of Briarpatch College’s oversized Administration building. At the same time all the now-familiar idiocies of American higher education in the Nineties were loose on campus. Everything that happens only once or even rarely elsewhere happened all the time at Briarpatch. As the college at the bottom of the US News ratings (a quasi-popularity poll that was taken seriously at the time), something had to be done to improve Briarpatch’s academic reputation. If you’ve ever attended a small college, you know Briarpatch; if you haven’t, you should have—for those who do not become part of a murder investigation, a small college is a great place to get an education, or to teach, or even to be a dean.

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