Central Michigan University scored some major-league publicity recently when a geology professor at the school determined that a 22-lb. rock serving as a doorstop on a farm in Edmore, Michigan was actually a meteorite estimated to be worth $100,000 (no joke).
Not to be outdone, Western Michigan University, a fierce rival of CMU, announced less than 48 hours later that a 71–lb. meteorite had been found on its campus next to a dumpster outside of the dining hall. Unfortunately, subsequent analysis revealed that the object in question was not a meteorite; it was Economics Professor Harold J. Clowfeffer.
The 87-year-old faculty member had apparently wandered into the cafeteria’s walk-in fruit locker, an industrial-strength dehydrator that was used to prepared dried strawberries for Buckin’ Bronco Granola, a popular breakfast treat named after the WMU mascot. Failing to notice that Dr. Clowfeffer had entered the dehydrator, a WMU food-service employee closed the door and turned the dial to “Maximum Shrinkage.”
The next morning, the Professor was mistaken for a freeze-dried eggplant that had gone bad and was placed next to the dumpster. Later that day, a 1st-year geology graduate student on academic probation stumbled upon Dr. Clowfeffer and excitedly made the incorrect identification.
Once WMU’s media relations office was notified of the discovery, the University’s PR machine shifted into high gear, eager to displace the trending news story that focused on Central Michigan’s puny “pebble.”
According to an anonymous source in the WMU Geology Department, the first clue that something was amiss came when “our research team discovered that this supposed meteorite appeared to be frowning, and was wearing eyeglasses.”
WMU President Edward Montgomery has expressed deep regret over the incident, and promised that Buckin’ Bronco Granola will no longer be served at the school. “It’s the least we can do.”
For her part, the professor’s wife, Blanche, is just happy to know what became of her husband. “When he didn’t come home on Thursday, I called every strip club in Kalamazoo — he was a regular — but no one had seen him. Now I take comfort in the fact that he’s in a much better place — his beloved Japanese rock garden in our back yard.”