In a recent investigative report by Earth Muffins, the prestigious CU-Boulder publication laid bare the truth that Chancellor Phil DiStefano had died eight years ago and had been replaced by a team of actors. At the end of the article, they asked readers “to join us in demanding a full investigation into this scandal and help us to dismantle the octo-chancellor charade.”
The Bacon decided to join in the effort and, in fact, we were able to locate one of the actors who portrays Phil/Chip on a regular basis. To protect his anonymity, we will refer to him as “Deep Throat,” the pseudonym of the secret informant who, in 1972, provided information to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
The Bacon: We understand that, as part of the hiring process to become one of the Phils/Chips, you had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, promising never to divulge the fact that you held the position. Why are you willing to jeopardize your job by coming forward now?
“Deep Throat”: When I read the recent article in Earth Muffins, it became clear to me that I had been living a lie for eight years, and contributing to a massive charade, pulling the wool over the eyes of CU-Boulder students, faculty, staff and alumni. I felt I couldn’t sit back and allow this to go on. Yes, I still need the job and that’s why I’m doing this anonymously, but I’m not scared since there are eight of us and I don’t think they’ll be able to trace this interview to me.
TB: We thank you for your willingness to set the record straight. We’d like to begin by asking you about the training you received to become one of the Phils/Chips. Since the Earth Muffins piece was published, we’ve heard that thousands of balding men have contacted Provost Moore to find out how to apply for one of the positions. What would you say to them?
DT: Well, as you already know, training is a several month process. In fact, I wasn’t bald before I took the job but told the hiring committee I was willing to shave off most of my hair and keep it that way. Learning to become Chip was easy; I just allowed my natural silliness to emerge, pretending I was 12 years old again, hugging little kids and giving high fives to all of the adults. The Phil part was more difficult. Learning his mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. was difficult. Now, it seems second nature to me but I really had to work on dumbing things down, behaving as if I was clueless about what was going on at the university unless I had a script in front of me. To be truthful, when I’m Phil, I spend most of the day sitting at the computer, playing Angry Birds, which is what DiStefano did while he was still alive. And I don’t even like Angry Birds.
TB: Would you be willing to tell us how much you’re being paid to portray Phil/Chip.
DT: I’m glad you asked. When we were first hired, we were told that we would be paid $25 an hour for our work as Phil/Chip. Let me tell you, wearing the Chip costume is not easy; the head itself weighs about eight pounds. But that’s nothing compared to pretending to be Phil; that takes real effort. I’m probably divulging too much in saying this, but my years of experience as an academic advisor really helped. Day after day of pretending to care for the students who came to me for help really developed my acting skills. As they say, “The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.” After a while, the eight of us realized we were being underpaid. While each of us only worked a few hours a week, we were always on call, unable to take other jobs because we didn’t know when we would be called. So, we threatened to strike unless we received annual salaries. We did some research and found that the lowest paid assistant football coach made $200,000 per year. So, we each asked to be paid half of that: $100K per year with a 10% increase for each year of additional service. We had them! Without any Chips or Phils to replace us, they had no choice but to give in to our demands.
TB: Hmmm. Given that there are eight of you and that the University is also providing benefits like health insurance and a retirement fund, that’s a pretty big chunk of change. Do you have any idea where the funding is coming from?
DT: Well, yeah, just like the original Deep Throat said, “Follow the money!” Have you heard of Financial Futures? That’s the group that throws money at various projects on campus. They say they make sure our resources are in optimal alignment to our public teaching and research mission and our strategic initiatives.” Well, can you think of anything more “strategic” than making sure that there’s always a Phil around when somebody needs him? It was an easy sell. Kathryn Tisdale cut us a check immediately and told us there was plenty more where that came from. We love that woman!