The over-the-top antics you’re remembering were part of the Pail and Shovel, a student government platform masterminded by Jim Mallon ’79 and Leon Varjian. After two terms in office, the two pranksters hovered around the periphery of campus life for a few years, but eventually they went their separate ways. Varjian is a high school math teacher in New Jersey. “There isn’t a day that I don’t reach back to something I’ve experienced when I get up in front of a group, sometimes a hostile group, to give a presentation. You have to organize it all in advance. You have to have all your props, get people’s attention, do your show, and then when the show is over, you disappear. That’s teaching,” says Varjian. In 1996, he won the presidential award for excellence in science and mathematics teaching.
Mallon pursued a career in television and movie production in the Twin Cities, producing the much-acclaimed Mystery Science Theater 3000. “There was something beautiful about getting out when we did,” Mallon says. “It would’ve been hard to top it.”