New to teaching, I was proudly gazing at a sign on my office door proclaiming "Assistant Professor Grossman," when the department secretary knocked.

"Would you like seasons tickets for the faculty cheering section in the football stadium?" she asked.

"No thank you," I said, effectively ending my social life at the University of Nebraska, says Ron Grossman, a Chicago Tribune reporter and former history professor. I didn't realize it wasn't a question but an imperative. Faculty members were expected to wear sweaters with the school colors and hold up colored pieces of cardboard to spell out, in giant...

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