PROT U is a satiric novel set on a contemporary university campus in Texas. With its colorful palette of characters and bizarre incidents, the story unfolds over the course of one outrageous year at fictional Protestant University of the South, from the start of classes and Rush week in August to graduation in May. This is a year when the serenity of the campus is shattered, as administrative control stifles student freedom of expression, mediocrity buries academic excellence and self interest battles justice.
The novel’s reluctant hero is senior Mike Carter, a hard-working commuter student and editor of the campus newspaper, who just wants to graduate and get a good job. But his investigative instincts are sparked when he uncovers a costly secret plan underway on the campus and reveals it in the student newspaper. The administration cracks down on the paper, and Mike is faced with the agonizing choice of compromising his journalistic principles and losing the admiration of protégé Jenny Lofton, or defying the administration and jeopardizing his carefully planned future.
Mike’s adviser, journalism assistant professor Angela Goodwin, is an idealist who wants to inspire students, champion truth and always do the right thing. This would be a lot easier to do if she didn’t have to worry about getting tenure, which requires kissing up to the “good ole boys” and keeping Mike in line.
Marlin Lynch, ardent football fan and cattle rancher, is the powerful chairman of the board of trustees and author of the clandestine scheme to improve the image of Prot U. The university president, Elmer Weeken, a mild-mannered former biology professor who only wants to return to teaching, passively goes along with the plan.
At Prot U we meet other fascinating characters, including conniving Clarice Wiley, administrative assistant to the president and a spy for Lynch; illegal Mexican immigrant Isabel Romero and her immigrant friends, who work long hours for low pay on the campus; self-promoting English department chair Cornelius T. Bragg and his overworked TA, conscientious Margaret Galsworth; and freshman Mallory Moore, whose only goal is to pledge the most popular sorority on campus. Add gays, frat boys, protesters, football players, a sex columnist and a corrupt city councilman, and the plot not only thickens but bubbles over.
Will Mike graduate? Will romance blossom for him and Jenny? Will the university sacrifice all for football fame? Will Angela get tenure? Will Isabel be sent back to Mexico?
Conflicts abound as the characters pursue their own agendas over the school year -- always at the whim of the capricious Texas weather -- to the novel’s chaotic climax on graduation day.
Original title: Prot U
Genre: Fiction→ General Fiction→ Humor→ Satire