A Year in Review:
Thumbs Up Kaba Modern: UC Irvine’s very own hip-hop troupe danced its way into the final three on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” proving to even the most hardened of skeptics that Asians can dance.
Thumbs Down Wall Street: It began with the abrupt bankruptcy of one of the financial world’s most respected investment banks, Lehman Brothers. Then insurance giant AIG needed a bailout to avoid a similar fate. One after another, the world’s most respected financial institutions faltered, victims of lax lending practices and years of growth based on what was, in retrospect, little more than a house of cards. Banks weren’t the only ones to feel the pain. Charities, academic endowments and Americans in general watched as nest eggs and net worth evaporated. The good times have stopped rolling.
Thumbs Up Erwin Chemerinsky: The founding dean of UCI’s new law school stays on in spite of a bizarre episode that saw the abrupt and unexplained withdrawal of his then only one month-old contract. The move prompted an uproar among faculty members and threatened to unseat Chancelor Drake amid allegations that he was bowing to politically motivated pressure from conservatives. It earned the fledgling school its first mention in the New York Times, though for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully, the break was short-lived and the damage to UCI’s reputation, hopefully, repaired.
Thumbs Up Heath Ledger: Right before his tragic death from an accidental overdose, the actor turned in a chilling performance as the Joker in the summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The saunter, the grin, enough said.
Thumbs Up UC Irvine Men’s Soccer Team: In its most successful season to date, the team finished with a 15-2-6 record, a Big West Conference title and a Big West Tournament title. Go Anteaters!
Thumbs Down Blago, Spitzer, Edwards, Stevens and Company: 2008 was not, in many ways, a good year for politics. The National Enquirer broke the story of toothy presidential candidate John Edwards’ affair and possible love child — while his wife battled breast cancer. New York governor Eliot Spitzer fell to the charms of call girl “Kristen” aka Ashley Dupree despite his vocal support of various anti-prostitution laws. Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens was indicted on corruption charges, convicted on seven counts of making false statements and still only lost his re-election campaign by less than one percent. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich took sleaziness to new heights by trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat.