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Putting the Queen in Homecoming Queen

Reputations are powerful, vulnerable, fragile things. Sometimes they shift overnight (think Bernie Madoff); often they are decades in the making.
I’ve always been interested in the reputations of institutions, especially universities, and the degree to which relatively small events loom very large in long-term reputation.
Latest example:
George Mason University is, in the public mind (or at least my mind), known for: a shocking Final Four appearance; a killer stable of economists; and, as of today, a homecoming queen who happens to be a drag queen.
I don’t care if G.M.U. professors win 50 Nobels; if its athletes win 50 Olympic gold medals; if its researchers win 50 cancer patents; 20 years from now, I will still remember the tale of Ms. Ryan Allen.