The Strangest Thank You

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Here’s some hilarious news for university development offices. Apparently in lieu of sending out thousands of acknowledgments to alumni who donated last year, Johns Hopkins University decided to take the um, novel, step of posting a Youtube video to thank alumni. The full video can be seen here. College Guide readers are encouraged to watch the entire performance because, well, wow.

A music video taken across the school’s campus and featuring students, faculty, administrators, and staff, the thank you performance is set to “I Thank You,” the 1968 R&B hit by Sam & Dave (and covered by ZZ Top in 1980). This is really, really awkward.

The trouble with the thank you video isn’t so much that it’s undignified (these performers have those particular smiles that appear only in dramatic performances or when someone’s under the influence of psychedelic drugs) as that it’s a case of so many things appearing so incongruously in the video. Witness JHU Professor Carol Greider, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, who appears at :58 holding up signs saying “dare to dream” and “true” a la Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

A message at the bottom of the pages encourages alumni to get involved:

If you like this video, please pass it on, through Facebook, e-mail or any other way that’s convenient to you Click on the icons below or simply use the “Tweet This” button. If you do, we thank you!

Are they hoping that it’s going to become a viral video, really?

One wonders how much money the university saved by eschewing traditional thank you cards.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer