May 17, 2013
By Cathy Young
A few months ago, a
post with a shocking claim about misogyny in America began to circulate on
Tumblr, the social media site popular with older teens and young adults. It featured a scanned book page section stating
that, according to "recent survey data," when junior high school students in the
Midwest were asked what they would do if they woke up "transformed into the
opposite sex," the girls showed mixed emotions but the boys' reaction was straightforward:
"'Kill myself' was the most common answer when they contemplated the
possibility of life as a girl." The original
poster--whose comment was, "Wow"--identified the source as her "Sex & Gender
college textbook," The Gendered Society by
The post quickly caught on with
Tumblr's radical feminist contingent: in less than three months, it was
reblogged or "liked" by over 33,000 users. Some appended their own comments, such
as, "Yeah, tell me again how misogyny 'isn't
real' and men and boys and actually 'like,'
'love' and 'respect the female sex'?
This is how deep misogynistic propaganda runs... As Germaine Greer said, 'Women have no idea how much men hate them.'"
Continue reading "A Classic Text on Gender--And It's All Wrong" »
May 15, 2013
By James Piereson
to a new report released by the American Association of University Professors, the
gap between the salaries of faculty at private and public universities is
widening. The "Annual Report on the
Status of the Profession" found that at the public institutions, full
professors averaged $118,054 and assistant professors $69,777, while at the
privates full professors' average salary was $157,282 and assistant professors'
while the rest of the economy struggles, the last decade has been a flush time
for private institutions, with endowments surging an average of 19.2 percent in
2011 and 11.9 percent in 2010, according to the National Association of College
and University Business Officers. Meanwhile things have gone steeply downhill
for public colleges and universities as legislatures across the country have
cut back on appropriations for higher education and, at the same time, have
imposed ceilings on tuition increases.
The financial squeeze has taken a toll on the quality of instruction
offered at some of our best public institutions. Unfortunately, the situation is likely to get
worse in the years ahead, given the condition of state and federal budgets.
Continue reading "What Happened to the Great State Universities?" »
May 13, 2013
Harvey Silverglate and Juliana DeVries
In a breathtakingly bold move, the civil rights offices
of both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have mandated
the effective abolition of free speech on college campuses, as well as the
almost certain conviction of large numbers of students, many of whom will be
innocent, of "harassment." Neither justice nor education will be well served.
disturbing and unconstitutional May 9th letter, mandating changes in sexual assault and harassment
procedures and standards, arose out of a joint ED/DOJ investigation and
evaluation at the University of
Montana, Missoula. The ED and DOJ addressed
their letter to the university president, but more broadly described it as "a
blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect
students from sexual harassment and assault." In other words, any college or
university receiving federal funding (which includes nearly all of them) risks
losing that funding, if it does not comply with the standards laid out in the
Continue reading "The Feds Mandate Abolition of Free Speech on Campus" »
May 12, 2013
By KC Johnson
Students at Stanford are the latest to fall victim to the assault on due
process mandated by the "Dear Colleague" letter. Last week, the university's
faculty senate approved the "Alternative Review Process," an across-the-board
diminution of due process rights for Stanford students accused of sexual
The Office of Civil Rights' "Dear Colleague" letter, to review, mandates
that colleges lower due process in two respects: weakening the burden of proof
from the clear and convincing standard to the preponderance of evidence
standard; and introducing a form of double jeopardy by allowing accusers to
appeal when an accused student is found not guilty in a college disciplinary
process. In addition, the letter strongly encourages a third change--prohibiting
an accused student from cross-examining his accuser--that, when coupled with the
usual requirement that accused students not be represented by counsel in
disciplinary proceedings, effectively ensures that no cross-examination of the
accuser will occur.
Continue reading "Stanford Abandons Due Process" »
May 9, 2013
higher-education story of the week is about cost: colleges and universities are
cutting prices. At least that's the impression one gets from media coverage of
the annual report from the National Association of College and University
Business Officers (NACUBO). "Colleges Cut Prices by Providing More Financial
the Wall Street Journal. "Private U.S. colleges, worried they could be
pricing themselves out of the market after years of relentless tuition
increases, are offering record financial assistance to keep classrooms full."
colleges are "lowering" prices, but not because they're messing with their
hefty sticker prices. In fact, American colleges and universities engage in a massive
system of price discrimination, offering students varying discounts from the
sticker price depending on family income and assets, number of children in
college, and other family financial factors. While the amount of the discount
largely depends on a family's ability to pay for college, many colleges also
offer price breaks to students based on "merit," as measured by SAT scores and
high school GPA.
Continue reading "Average Tuition Discount for Freshman: 45%" »
May 7, 2013
By KC Johnson
The End of Sex is
a frustrating book. Author Donna Freitas, a self-described feminist, has
written a thoughtful and richly-researched study of how the sexual culture on contemporary
campuses shortchanges many college students. She draws from a rich data base,
namely, a multi-year survey of students at different colleges supplemented by
the author's own experience in residential or student life. Yet Freitas'
recommendations--based around a call for faculty and administrators to guide
students more in such matters--would almost certainly make things worse, given
the professoriate's ideological alignment.
Freitas detects three basic characteristics to hookup
culture: some form of sexual intimacy; which is brief, lasting no more than a
few hours over a single night; and which is intended to be purely physical, not
anything approaching emotional attachments. "If a person brackets all emotions
and feelings of attachment," she argues, "a hookup becomes an efficient form of
sexual interaction. Today's students tend to be overcommitted and extremely
busy, and they don't have the time (or at least are socialized to believe they
don't have the time) to get serious about any one person," leading to a
practice that "creates a drastic divide between physical intimacy and emotional
Continue reading "The Hookup Culture and Its Discontents" »
May 5, 2013
By Richard Vedder
In the highly competitive free market economy that
propelled the United States into our planet's richest nation, business
enterprises making mistakes pay huge and sometimes fatal consequences. Indeed
it is what Joseph Schumpeter aptly called "creative destruction" that forces
firms to be productive, efficient, innovative, and willing to take risks.
Contrast this to higher education.
Schools that make mistakes suffer minor but not grievous consequences.
The top three schools in 1900 (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) are usually regarded
as the top three today.
I looked at the Fortune 500 list for 1993. Of the top 20
companies, more than one third have undergone radical change. Three have gone
bankrupt, although they still survive: General Motors, Chrysler, and Eastman
Kodak. The Kodak stockholders have been almost completely wiped out and
Chrysler has been sold. Three oil companies ceased to exist, being merged into
larger companies (Mobil, Texaco, and Amoco). Philip Morris has undergone a
fundamental transformation and has divided itself into several entities. Others
have had their standing radically change for the better (Berkshire Hathaway
went from 158 to 7, Apple from 67 to 17), or worse (Boeing went from 14 to 39,
United Technologies from 18 to 48).
Continue reading "What Will Convulsive Change Do to Our Colleges?" »
May 2, 2013
By Peter Sacks
In my 1996 book Generation X Goes to College, I predicted that virtually anyone
with a computer and a modem would have access to the storehouse of human
knowledge. As a result, higher education as we know would become an
anachronism, if not obsolete. The university's status would diminish because it
would lose its competitive advantage in disseminating information.
The recent emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open
Online Courses), however, raises obvious questions. Are these new teaching methods as effective,
in terms of student performance, as real-life classrooms? Can these new
technologies bring down higher education costs? Former Princeton president
William G. Bowen takes on these questions and others in his new book Higher-Ed in the Digital Age. Once a
skeptic, Bowen now concludes that online learning programs will reduce the cost
of higher education without harming student learning outcomes.
Continue reading "Is Online Learning for Steerage?" »
May 1, 2013
Charles and David Koch are reportedly
interested in buying the Tribune Company's eight newspapers, including The Los
Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore
Sun. According to The New York Times,
this is less about making a profit than acquiring a platform to extol the
brothers' laissez-faire ideas. Current
estimates put the price tag at about $623 million (privately owned Koch
Industries have annual revenues of about $115 billion).
Leaving aside the obvious arguments about buying
dinosaurs and whether the brothers could ideologically re-shape these papers,
let me suggest a better investment--establish an undergraduate college heavy on
the humanities and social sciences (including economics) that recruits only top
students. (David Koch took a step in
this academic direction in 2007 when he gave $100 million to MIT for the David H.
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research). In a nutshell, it's better to
create an elite alternative to today's left-leaning academy than to exercise
the owner's droit de seigneur to write
weekly op-eds on the evils of Washington's regulation. The Koch boys surely
must appreciate how innovation can destroy the old economic order and higher
education is no exception. Moreover, creating a college via a 501(c)(3) foundation would provide huge tax savings, perhaps even making the enterprise
Continue reading "How the Koch Boys Could Save American Higher Education" »
April 30, 2013
PETER WOOD: Samuel Goldman seeks
to distinguish the small and marginal subset "conservative defenders of liberal
education" from other kinds of conservatives. He places these poor folks "in a blind alley." They are, he says, at
odds both with "potential allies outside the conservative movement" and with
the conservative movement itself, which finds its center of gravity in
something other than the preservation of civilization. He then offers friendly
advice as to how we conservative defenders of liberal education can find an
exit from that alley. Make friends, he says, with people who are not political
conservatives but who "take pride in their status as conservators of a cultural
I take it by "conservative
defenders of liberal education" he means folks like the members of the National
Association of Scholars. Good advice, but as it happens, we are already there
and have been for the last 25 years. A sizable portion of the NAS membership is made up of people who are registered
Democrats. Some of our board members, some of our prominent donors, and some of
the scholars who write for our journal Academic
Questions emphatically identify themselves as "liberal," and by that they
do not mean libertarian. And NAS tirelessly explains to those in the media who
insist we are a "conservative" organization that, no, we are an organization
that focuses squarely on improving American higher education by advocating for
the continuing relevance of reasoned inquiry, the pursuit of truth, and the
centrality of Western civilization. We never defined those as "conservative"
principles. And in fact they are not. They appeal to some conservatives, which
is great. But they also appeal to some liberals, which is also great.
Continue reading "Are Conservative Academics Stuck in a Blind Alley?
Two Responses to Samuel Goldman (and Peter Lawler)" »
April 28, 2013
By Samuel Goldman
conservative about liberal education? On any serious consideration, the answer
is: a lot. Students do pick up marketable skills when they take classes in literature,
history, or philosophy. But the real purpose of studying languages, books, and
arguments is to initiate them as members of a community of free men and women,
the present and future of which are heavily influenced by its dual origins in
Athens and Jerusalem. In a recent essay for Minding
the Campus, Peter Augustine Lawler described this task as "cultural
transmission"--a term than could almost be derived from postmodern theory. It
would be more conservative to use the still intelligible Latinate term tradition, which literally means
education, then, has a distinctly conservative function. But that does not give
it any necessary connection to conservative views on other matters, let alone
approval for the Republican Party. Rather than confusing a cultural function
with a partisan program, defenders of liberal education should pursue alliances
with educational "conservatives" of the center and left.
Continue reading "What Campus Conservatives Should Do Now" »
April 25, 2013
By KC Johnson
At some point the demands for federal investigations into our colleges' supposed indifference to accusers in sexual assault cases will reach the point of parody. In fact, that point might already have been reached with two recent developments. First, celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, an attorney who never met a TV camera she didn't like, has agreed to represent several Occidental College students in their complaints about the school's sexual assault policies. Second, a Title IX complaint has been filed against Swarthmore College, an institution widely considered a paragon of political correctness. To get a sense of the campus climate: Swarthmore was last in the news after student protesters successfully pressured Robert Zoellick, a former head of the World Bank and an early supporter of the Iraq War, into declining an offer to serve as commencement speaker.
Richard Perez-Pena--coordinator of the New York
Times' anti-campus due process beat--brought
news of both developments in a co-authored article. As is his
customary pattern, Perez-Pena didn't actually describe the
policies against which the students were complaining. (No mention, that is, of
Occidental's bizarre standard under which a male student can be deemed culpable
for sexual assault even if his partner says "yes" to intercourse.)
Referencing the Orwellian criteria that campuses currently use would not, it
seems, comport to the ideological framework through which the Times is
viewing these stories.
Continue reading "Swarthmore, Occidental and Their Kangaroo Courts" »
April 23, 2013
By Peter Augustine Lawler
A big divide is showing up between conservative and libertarian criticisms of higher education. Conservatives--and I am among them--argue that higher-ed has become too vocational and libertarians say it is not vocational enough.
Professor Michael Hepner of the University of Dubuque, part of an influential and cutting-edge effort to think through the causes of the withering away of "general education" programs, drew recent attention by arguing that conservatives are obviously right. "It is no secret," he wrote, "that American higher education is becoming more and more technical." Colleges are reducing the quantity and quality of general ed requirements so that students can get to their technical majors more quickly and easily.
I would add the observation that technical majors expand as general ed programs contract. Complicated techno-lite vocational majors like music marketing and sports broadcasting often require huge numbers of courses. The student, after all, has to master both music and marketing! And then there are the alleged imperatives of the various specialized accrediting programs for education, business, chemistry, nursing, and so forth. How could anyone possibly expect to get a job without a professionally accredited major? English, literature, history, and philosophy and other "liberal arts" majors remain modest in size. Those majors, of course, don't really claim to prepare technically competent students for some specialized job. They don't have any vocational or professional reason to gloat.
Continue reading "Conservatives v. Libertarians on Higher Education" »
April 21, 2013
By Greg Lukianoff and Robert
It's no longer a matter of much
debate that America's college campuses are not the beacons of free and open
discussion they were intended to be. In its 14 years of existence, our
organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has documented hundreds of
cases of gross abuses of students' and faculty members' fundamental rights. More than sixty percent of
America's largest and most prestigious colleges have speech codes that are either unconstitutional (at public
universities) or directly contradict promises of free speech (at private
The two authors of this piece
come from different political and personal perspectives. One is a liberal and
an atheist (Lukianoff), the other a conservative evangelical Christian
(Shibley). Our combined decades of work
as president and senior vice president of FIRE have convinced us that the groupthink
and the pressure to conform, be silent, or talk solely to those with whom you
already agree that is fostered by the culture and rules of the modern campus is
destructive to students, our educational system, and our society as a whole.
Continue reading "6 Ways to Defeat the Campus Censors" »
April 17, 2013
By Judah Bellin
Originally run as a Manhattan Institute Policy Brief.
of student-loan debt has raised a vexing question: Is a college degree still a good
investment? No segment of American higher education has faced greater scrutiny
than for-profit colleges and universities.
For-profits differ from traditional institutions in important
respects. They are accountable chiefly to shareholders, who expect a return on
their investment; their stocks are usually traded publicly; and they face no
restrictions in setting executive pay. In addition, their admissions standards
generally are much lower than those of comparable nonprofit schools. While
for-profits only accept students with a high school diploma or equivalent, they
are otherwise nonselective. The average acceptance rate for for-profits in
2007-08 was slightly above 74 percent, the highest of any sector and roughly 5
percentage points higher than public universities. Most important, for-profits'
academic goals are distinct: they explicitly seek to equip students with
vocational skills. To that end, they emphasize technical training over the
Continue reading "The Unacknowledged Value of For-Profit Education" »
April 16, 2013
By Ron Lipsman
Easy question. Administrators do. Odd as it may sound today,
faculties have long assumed the right and duty to set the campus agenda--to
establish admission standards, control research and curriculum, run visiting
speaker programs, and set the academic and professional criteria on which
promotions, prizes and appointments are based.
Historically, the faculty actually did control these things,
in part because it was viewed as the natural way to run a university, and
partly because there were no countervailing forces to prevent it. The
administrative layers that accompanied and facilitated faculty control of
campuses were fairly thin. That is, the percentage of professional, full-time
campus administrators was small compared to that of the faculty. Furthermore,
many of them were drawn from the ranks of the faculty (to which they returned
after relatively brief stints in campus administration) and so although these
faculty functioned as administrators, they still thought of themselves as
faculty and comported themselves accordingly.
Continue reading "Who Runs Our Colleges-- Administrators or Faculty?" »
April 12, 2013
By Richard Vedder
enjoy a privileged position in our society and lots of independence from
political and economic forces, partly to provide an environment where diversity
of views reigns -where conformist, stifling uniformity is suppressed in favor
of a "free market in ideas." Coupled with that historically has been a sense of
meritocracy -the academy is an oasis where the intellectual able, the
motivated, the disciplined, can break bread, spar verbally and learn.
that's not what our universities are like today. Campuses are filled with high-priced
administrators collecting economic rents (unnecessary payments) promoting
"diversity"--the favorite and most overused word of many administrators. But it's
a good word that has been subverted to promote the evaluating of groups of
people on the basis of some physical characteristic rather on individual merit.
Thus universities in their admission policies favor blacks or Hispanics over
Asians and whites. Sometimes they favor women over men. Call it the New Racism.
Continue reading "Let's Reclaim the Word 'Diversity'" »
April 11, 2013
By Peter Augustine Lawler
of liberals--and not just liberal professors--think there is a conservative conspiracy to use online
education and MOOCs, to destroy genuinely higher education in this
country. I see no organized conspiracy,
and much of the liberal paranoia amounts to whining about the results of
legitimate political defeats. Nonetheless, there is something to the thought that hostility to higher
education as it now exists in our country is growing, and opposition to
political liberals has gotten mixed up with hostility to "liberal education."
I would call that hostility less conservative
than libertarian. Plenty of
conservatives are all for the beautiful, seemingly useless, and deeply truthful
tradition of liberal education. And so we conservatives often finding
ourselves allying with liberals against the libertarians who want to
deconstruct the parts of that tradition that do not prepare us for the rigors
of the global marketplace of the 21st century. We conservatives find ourselves allying with
anyone who doesn't want to reduce higher education to technology.
Continue reading "Are Conservatives (or Libertarians) Ruining Liberal Education?" »
April 10, 2013
By Frank A. Pasquale
know you can get a degree in your pajamas?
It's true, the company EdConnect assures us--thousands
of students are doing it every day.
Meanwhile, in California, the legislature and governor are cooking up a
"faculty free" college experience: just take exams to get a degree. Too lazy to take your own exam? Maybe an
expert can phone
it in for you.
to the brave new world of Silicon Valley-style higher ed. One visionary, Sebastian Thrun, fantasizes
about teaching 1.5 million students at a time.
The less ambitious professors of "Coursera" settle for entering classes
of tens of thousands. Never mind how
many actually complete their course--the media
will fixate on the sign-up numbers. In the weird economy of prestige of today's
networked public sphere, that's enough.
Continue reading "How MOOCs Really Work" »
April 7, 2013
By Judah Bellin
To the careful observer of American higher education, the questions Neil Gross raises in Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? might seem self-explanatory. Indeed, such an observer could reason, everyone knows that American universities are run by left-wing academics who bar conservative students and faculty from moving up the ranks. In addition, he might say, conservatives obviously care about political skew because the professoriate tends to marginalize or ignore their views. However, Gross wishes to upend both narratives.
Before he does so, Gross asks whether the professoriate is really as left-leaning as its critics allege. Unsurprisingly, his finds that it is. Gross draws this conclusion from older data, which shows not only that college professors have self-identified as liberals since the 1940s, but that professors have become more left-wing since 1969. In addition, he and a research partner conduct their own research. Their "Politics of the American Professoriate" study surveyed 1,416 professors from across the disciplines and types of higher education institutions, and interviewed select respondents. His findings add some nuance to the discussion. For instance, he finds that "strong conservatives" comprise 23 percent of the professoriate, "economic conservatives" comprise 4 percent, and "moderates" comprise 19 percent. This data hardly paint a picture of a conservative wilderness.
Continue reading "Why Are Professors Liberal?" »
April 4, 2013
By Andrew Gillen
Very few people who enroll in MOOCs (massive open online courses) tell us about the experience. I just took one and learned these lessons:
Lesson One: Professors need to start phasing out in-class lecturing now.
Based on my own experience as a student and as an adjunct professor, the vast majority of professors spend much of their time in class lecturing. I suspect this will not last in the age of MOOCs. Not that the lecture will become obsolete--indeed, the lecture as a pedagogical tool has had amazing resilience. Lecturing arose because books were once both rare and prohibitively expensive, and lecturing made it necessary for only one person to read while others took notes. Of course, the printing press, VHS tape, and YouTube have all shattered this justification for the lecture, yet the lecture survived. I'm betting it will survive MOOCs as well.
Continue reading "The Four Lessons I Learned by Taking a MOOC" »
April 3, 2013
By John Leo
Today the National Association of Scholars is releasing the results of its long, in-depth study of Bowdoin College, "What Does Bowdoin Teach? How a Contemporary Liberal Arts College Shapes Students."
Among the findings: Bowdoin, in a retreat from its past, stresses global citizenship (with declining emphasis and on and concern for the United States). Multi-culturalism, diversity and emphasis on race and gender pervade the curriculum and campus life. Openness and critical thinking are officially preached, but many campus core tenets cannot be challenged in the face of the college's prevailing orthodoxy, and those who might challenge (conservatives) are virtually gone from the campus--only 4 or 5 of the 186 faculty could be listed as conservative, and 100 percent of faculty donations in the 2012 presidential election went to Barack Obama.
The study of Bowdoin was triggered by happenstance--a golf game that included Wall Streeter Thomas Klingenstein and Bowdoin president Barry Mills. As a result of the disturbing conversation at that game, Klingenstein decided to fund the NAS study of the college.
Continue reading "What Happens Today at a Liberal Arts College?" »
March 29, 2013
By KC Johnson
reporter Richard Perez-Pena,
who covers campus sex codes and hearings for the New York Times, recently examined events at four campuses: Amherst,
Yale, the University of North Carolina, and Occidental, offering readers
positive portraits of "activists" who seek to decimate due process protections
for students accused of sexual assault. A hallmark of the Times' coverage of college sexual assault questions has been an
utter refusal to describe the campus procedures that help determine the fate of
accused students. I have covered
events at Yale and UNC closely on this site and referred to Amherst, but what
about the fourth case mentioned
by Perez-Pena, at
Occidental, a college with strange and unfair procedures?
with the OCR "Dear Colleague" letter mandate, Occidental uses the lowest
(preponderance of evidence) to determine guilt of a student accused of sexual
assault. The accused student has the right to an "advocate" who can assist him
in the process, but this "advocate" cannot be a lawyer and cannot speak in any
way during the disciplinary hearing.
Continue reading "A College with Strange Sex Misconduct Hearings
('No' Means 'No,' and 'Yes' Can Mean 'No' Too)" »
March 28, 2013
By Donald A. Downs
delivered upon acceptance of the Bradley Foundation's Jeane J. Kirkpatrick
Award, March 15.
to the principles of academic freedom was tested when new forces of politically
correct censorship and thought control began to sweep higher education in the
later 1980s, the latest historic example of a moralistic movement that
considers academic freedom a hindrance to its ascendency. Before you knew it,
speech codes, excessively broad harassment codes, and related policies cropped
up across the land. To me, it was existential....The University of Wisconsin was
a renowned pioneer in the rise of academic freedom in the United States, and
our official University motto is dedicated to "that continual and fearless
sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found."
in the late 1980s the University prided itself on being a pioneer of a
different sort. We considered ourselves a leader of the national speech code
movement under the chancellorship of Donna Shalala. Before long, there was less
sifting and less winnowing, at least in some important areas. By the early
1990s we felt a pall being case over the campus when it came to free speech and
thought regarding such controversial issues as race, gender, sex, religion, and
related matters that were covered by the new codes.
Continue reading "Overcoming Shalala and the Speech-Code Movement" »
March 26, 2013
By Harvey Silverglate, Juliana DeVries, and Zachary Bloom
There’s been a lot of head-scratching of late about how and why a clutch of Harvard administrators searched the email accounts of 16 “resident deans” in a Nixonian effort to find and then plug a leak of utterly inconsequential information about the so-called Harvard “cheating scandal.” But trendwatchers at Harvard and virtually every other college and university in the country should not be surprised. At Harvard, the Administration and General Counsel—rather than the faculty or students—run the show, with the campus police exerting a good deal of influence as well.
The governing board, despite being granted virtually absolute authority over the affairs of the college by an unusual provision of the Massachusetts Constitution, appears to be AWOL. And when the lawyers and bureaucrats take over as they have at Harvard, we can only expect that the campus culture will resemble a corporation at best and a police state at worst.
Continue reading "The Harvard Email Snooping Case:
Overreaching Administrators at Work" »
March 22, 2013
By Richard Vedder
Accreditation is rapidly changing. Instead of remaining just a mildly annoying
and inefficient barrier to innovation and change in higher education, it is
evolving into a major impediment. Increasingly outrageous decisions by power
hungry accreditation czars are becoming a serious problem. I have recently written
about this issue here,
but the problem is growing so rapidly that more needs to be said.
The most recent outrage comes from the Higher Learning
Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association, the nation's largest
regional accrediting organization. The HLC has issued a stern fatwa: education is a public, not a
private good, and the mission of accredited institutions must reflect
that. The accreditation standards make
it explicit that "educational responsibilities
take priority over other purposes,
such as generating financial returns for investors...." This statement, if interpreted narrowly, could
mean that for-profit higher education is not permitted. Already politicians
like Senators Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin have publicly called for the HLC to
critically examine the University of Phoenix, which might largely explain why that
institution--by some measures America's largest university-- is on probation.
In short, the whole process is increasingly being politicized, with senators
telling accrediting agencies what to do -and those agencies are listening.
Continue reading "Accreditors--Hip Deep in Politics" »
March 21, 2013
By Mary Grabar
My fellow mammal in residence, Sparky the
Orange Cat, wanted out at a party at my home one cold and rainy night, but I
knew what would happen--the ritual cat delay in the doorway: a long period of
staring and hesitation while I shivered in the cold, followed by his running
back into the warm house.
This made me recall a collection of hilarious
poems, Henry Beard's Poetry
for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Feline Verse. Beard captures
Sparky's indecision perfectly as he re-writes Hamlet's soliloquy from the cat's
Continue reading "Cats, Comedy and Common Culture" »
March 19, 2013
Hayward has accepted a one-year appointment as Visiting Scholar in Conservative
Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Hayward, who holds a
Ph.D. in American Studies from Claremont Graduate School, is the author of several books,
including volumes on Reagan and Churchill, and has held positions at the
American Enterprise Institute, Pacific Research Institute, and the Ashbrook
Center at Ashland University. Funding for three years comes from outside
Is this a
good idea, a breakthrough for conservatives at a public university, or a
short-sighted exercise in tokenism--the
temporary founding of a one-man conservative ghetto?
asked ten people in higher education to comment. Here are Daphne Patai, Cary
Nelson, Steven Balch, Peter Lawler, Bruce Bawer, John K. Wilson, Jonathan B. Imber, Robert Paquette, Judah
Bellin, Peter Skerry, and James Caeser:
Continue reading "A First: Conservative Studies Professor at a Public University" »
March 15, 2013
By Fred Siegel
Dewey said the job of education was to free students from the intellectual
captivity imposed by "village truths," the groupthink version of reality they
had grown up with. But the irony now is that liberalism, once created in
opposition to small-town traditionalism, has generated its own
all-encompassing "village truths" creating conformism on today's campus.
are now subject to a curriculum watered down by political correctness. So it comes
as news to even well-read young people that there once was an anti-Communism
and anti-Stalinism of the left in America. It was a tradition
upheld by people like the literary critic and Yiddishist Irving Howe
and the historian Eugene Genovese. But Howe's and Genovese's anti-Stalinism
made them objects of enmity for the anti-anti-Communists of the New Left, who
have dominated academia for the past three decades. The New Left aped the
Communists by shutting down all campus debate, and in so doing, laid the
groundwork for political correctness.
Continue reading "How Our Campuses Came to Reject Free Speech" »
March 14, 2013
By Ronald Radosh
Can it be
that "it is not left-wing academics, but
ideologues of the radical right, who are pursuing political correctness in
American universities?" No, not really, but that's what the
1960's activist and historian, and more recently labor lawyer, Staughton Lynd,
argues on The History News
Network site. In a
hagiographic obituary for historian Herbert Shapiro, Lynd charges that the right has purged faculties by selecting for teachers
friendly to "the unrestricted pursuit of profit." He says flatly, "conservatism
rather than radicalism threatens the free exchange of ideas, intellectual
tolerance, and the life of the mind in academia."
case is thin and rambling. Echoing Shapiro, he starts with a minor incident
from the 1890s, citing a regent of the
University of Wisconsin who said that the economist Richard Ely was writing
"utopian, impractical and pernicious books," and in Lynd's words, was accused
of "consorting with union organizers, and supporting strikes." Why cite this
now? As Lynd undoubtedly knows, many universities today have labor history
studies, as well as entire departments dedicated to training union personnel,
with no one risking dismissal for "consorting with union organizers."
Continue reading "A New Left Historian Rewrites Some History" »
March 13, 2013
By Hans Bader
Reposted from Open
We live in a culture where harsh but truthful
criticism, or exposure
of wrongdoing, is viewed by some as "bullying," especially when it affects
someone's inflated "self-esteem."
- DePaul University has punished
a student for publicizing the names of fellow students who admitted vandalizing
his organization's pro-life display," classifying his speech as "bullying." The
display had been approved by the university, and the 13 students who wrecked it
- When historian Michael Bellesiles's academic fraud was exposed
by fellow historians, resulting in his forced resignation, a leading
"anti-bullying" expert, who shared Bellesiles' progressive political views, got
him a new job at her university, claiming
that he "was the victim of a "mobbing" or group "bullying"
campaign by his fellow historians, who were distinguished people from across
the political spectrum.
- The Minister of Education in Ontario,
the most populous Canadian province, has sought to
define pro-life advocacy in religious schools as gender-based bullying.
Self-styled crusaders against "workplace bullying" want to impose broad
definitions of bullying at the expense of free speech and use existing overly
broad school bullying rules as models for laws against workplace bullying that
would hold employers and co-workers liable for compensatory and punitive
damages for speech and expressive conduct deemed to be bullying -- something
that disturbs groups such as the
Chamber of Commerce.
Continue reading "The Anti-Bullying Panic Makes it to College" »
March 12, 2013
Andrew P. Kelly and
our better instincts, we looked at Andrew Leonard's recent piece
on the conservative plot to "wreck higher-ed." He begins with an oft-heard although accurate lament
about public colleges: state funding is decreasing while costs and prices continue
to climb. However, Leonard's argument quickly veers into conspiracy-land:
There's a political context to the
transformation. Higher education is in
crisis because costs are rising at the same time that public funding support is
falling. That decline in public support is no accident. Conservatives
don't like big government and they don't like taxes, and increasingly, they
don't even like the entire way that the humanities are taught in the United
no accident that in Texas, Florida and Wisconsin, three of the most
conservative governors in the country are leading the push to incorporate MOOCs
in university curricula.
Continue reading "Is There A Conservative Conspiracy to Destroy College? " »
March 10, 2013
By Peter Wood
My sorry academic discipline, anthropology, has been in the news the
last few weeks. Napoleon Chagnon broke his long silence by publishing a memoir,
Noble Savages, about his work among
the South American Yanomamo Indians and the long nightmare of politically
correct recrimination that greeted his work.
Chagnon was infamously accused of infamy by a journalist, Patrick
Tierney, who confabulated a story about Chagnon starting a measles epidemic
among the South American Yanomamo Indians so that he could study the results.
Chagnon was hauled up on charges by the American Anthropological Association;
condemned in 2002; and then reprieved in 2005 when the AAA rescinded its
condemnation after it became clear that Tierney's accusation had been
Continue reading "The Long PC Battle in Anthropology" »
March 7, 2013
By James M. Patterson
In 1999, I was a sophomore at the University of Houston
when Dr. Ross M. Lence invited me to participate in a small, graduate seminar
entirely dedicated to John Locke's Second
Treatise on Government. It was an
experience I will never forget. During the first few weeks, I found myself
utterly unprepared for the rigor and patience required to read and discuss the
material. By the end of the first month, I grew so frustrated that, during a
seminar, I lashed out at a graduate student. The room went silent. Ross slowly
turned to me, stared for what felt like an eternity and said, "Mr. Patterson,
in this course, I will think hard about what Mr. Locke says. Will you be doing
the same?" When the class ended, he told me to come to his office immediately.
Once there, he ordered me to spend more time studying the
course material. He also made me talk to him about the material before and
after each class. In time, I became one of the students who congregated in his
office, and even met at large gatherings at his home. At first, we followed him
out of fear of failing his course, but we eventually followed him to understand
why he told such unusual stories in lectures and how they reflected
long-standing political or even existential problems. Later, we did it because
he was a great friend and mentor.
Continue reading "Remembering a Great Teacher:
'I Am the Messenger, Not the Message'" »
March 5, 2013
Posted by KC Johnson
As some readers of Minding
the Campus know,
since last summer I've been embroiled in a legal controversy with Duke. The
battle ended last week, when, facing a potential defeat before the US. District
Court in Maine, Duke withdrew its subpoenas. The affair spoke volumes about the
indifference to First Amendment values at one of the nation's leading research
As part of the civil suits filed by former members of the
Duke lacrosse team, I received four subpoenas from Duke, demanding among other
things my confidential communications with anyone Duke-affiliated, including my
e-mails with any Duke professor and all Duke alumni, relating to the "lacrosse
incident" or discussing in any way President Richard Brodhead's "job performance."
Duke did not subpoena Stuart Taylor, my co-author of Until Proven Innocent. As I'd come to learn, I was the only person
who functioned in a journalistic capacity during the lacrosse case subpoenaed
by Duke; the university even ignored its own campus newspaper, despite the fact
that former Chronicle reporter John
Taddei conducted the first on-the-record
interviews with any of the plaintiffs in the civil suit--interviews that
occurred before I launched my blog Durham-in-Wonderland.
Continue reading "Duke Drops the Case Against Me" »
March 1, 2013
Some critics have called for a near-total rollback of the
government's involvement with higher education, including the end of subsidies
to low-income students. Last month, for
instance, Jarrett Skorup of Michigan Capitol Confidential.com suggested that
state and federal governments should
quit subsidizing higher education altogether because the aid fails to
improve individual economic prospects or the nation's economic vitality.
Similarly, Richard Vedder argued
here that even liberals should support eliminating public financial aid for
low-income students because "on balance (it) has increased income inequality in
the United States." And, of course,
there is Ron Paul, who once told NBC News that federal financial aid for needy
students should eventually be terminated "because there's no authority to do this...they're
a trillion dollars in debt, we don't have any jobs for them, the quality of
education has gone down. So, it's a failed program."
Continue reading "Stop Dumping on Student Loans" »
February 27, 2013
By Jackson Toby
Indebted college graduates have recently begun
to ask whether a four-year college education is worth what it costs. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on February 11, for
example, 23-year-old Bryce Harrison, who graduated last May from Goucher
College with a political-science degree and about $100,000 in student loans to
repay, is now unemployed and is considering joining the National Guard. He had spent the summer working for his father,
power-washing houses. "Was college worth getting in the amount of debt I'm
in?" he asked. "At this point, I can't answer that."
Continue reading "The Market for College Grads Keeps Changing " »
February 25, 2013
By Peter Wood
go down to local fishmonger and order a nice tuna steak. You take it home, cook it up, serve it, and
find it is succulent and delicious. But
before long you have cramps, nausea, and something worse. Chances are what you thought was tuna was
another fish, escolar. Tasty but not recommended.
New York Times is
reporting the latest of many studies that show that the fish we buy are often
mislabeled. In the study 120 samples of
red snapper collected at markets in 12 different parts of the country turned
out to include all sorts of substitute species--28 different kinds of fish in
that net. The San Francisco Chronicle reporting
on the same study noted that "a third of the seafood sold nationwide and almost
40 percent of the fish purchased by consumers in Northern California was not
what it was touted to be."
Continue reading "Fishy Courses: The Fake Red Snappers of Academe" »
By John S. Rosenberg
be a first: the president of a major research university has just been formally
censured by his faculty -- a no confidence vote
may be coming next month -- because of an opinion about a historical event (and
a conventional, mainstream opinion at that) he expressed in a university
University President James Wagner's transgression was his opinion that the adoption
of the Constitution provides a model of how it is both possible and desirable
to compromise, even over bitterly divisive issues. Regarding the controversial
compromise that provided counting three-fifths of the slaves for the purpose of
state representation in the new Congress, he argued that "[p]ragmatic half-victories
kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely
together." Both North and South, he concluded, "found a way to temper ideology
and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared -- the
aspiration to form a more perfect union."
Continue reading "Emory President Censured for Incorrect Opinion" »
February 21, 2013
By Peter H. Schuck
federal jury in Georgia has held Ronald Zaccari, the former president of
Valdosta State University, liable for damages in a lawsuit by a former student,
Hayden Barnes, whom Zaccari expelled in 2007 without according him a due
process hearing. Zaccari did so after
Barnes had conducted a passionate, energetic, unrelenting campaign on campus
against the administration's plan to construct a new parking deck at an estimated
cost of $30 million, which Barnes argued would be better spent on almost 3000
full scholarships for needy university students. The breaking point for Zaccari apparently
occurred when Barnes referred to the project as a "memorial" garage, which Zaccari
took to be a personal threat to his safety, justifying a summary expulsion.
outrageous violations by college administrators of their students' and
teachers' peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights are all too common. The legal challenges are usually based on 42
U.S.C. Section 1983, a civil rights law dating back to 1871 that provides a
remedy (money damages, injunctions, or both) in federal (and state) courts
against state and local officials who violate a right secured by the U.S.
Constitution, federal statutes, or other sources of federal law. (States themselves can be sued only under
narrow circumstances because of the Eleventh Amendment).
Continue reading "Valdosta and the Future of the Authoritarian Campus" »
February 20, 2013
By Daniel DiSalvo
debate has raged for nearly a year over federal government's funding of
political science research. On one side are those who argue that very little
public benefit is derived from such funding and that it only furthers Ivory
Tower navel-gazing. On the other side are, not surprisingly, the political
scientists themselves and those who claim that scientists not politicians
should dictate what research government sponsors. The issue was recently reignited
by a major
policy speech by House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA). Things have gotten
so interesting that even Paul Krugman has jumped
in the fray. However, the whole debate is in many respects a tempest
looking for a teapot to happen in.
Continue reading "Should Political Science Be Defunded?" »
February 19, 2013
By Richard Vedder
If I were asked to name the ten organizations most adversely impacting
Americans - I would undoubtedly think of a few terrorist groups like al-Qaeda
or criminal elements like Russian or Italian Mafia crime families, but also on
my list, right below the quasi-corrupt NCAA that exploits young athletes to
profit and entertain adults, might be the Commission on Colleges of the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, hereafter SACS. Actually, SACS is
one of a half dozen regional accrediting bodies whose decisions can determine
whether a college exists or not, and most of what I say about SACS could be
said about other regional accrediting groups, such as the Higher Learning
Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, or about
subject accrediting groups like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
of Business, the American Bar Association, or the National Council for the
Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Continue reading "The Damage That Accreditors Do" »
February 15, 2013
By Peter Augustine
For many economists, the big point about the current higher
education bubble is that it deserves to
burst. College education is overpriced
because colleges have been getting away with charging students for amenities
that have little or nothing to do with real education. The list of amenities is long, with a lot of
disagreement on which are most costly and pointless. The two most obvious culprits are the burgeoning
number of overpaid and self-indulgent administrators overseeing educationally
irrelevant enterprises and concerns and the overpaid, self-indulgent, and
underworked faculty. The administrators,
of course, blame the faculty, and the faculty the administrators. The administrators create more bureaucratic
bloat by insisting, through their organizations and accrediting associations,
that educational outcomes be more rigorously assessed, and faculty respond that
all the assessment baloney does little more than annoyingly take time away from
their real jobs.
Continue reading "The Core Value of Higher Education Is Money?" »
February 13, 2013
By Peter Wood
Near the beginning of Dickens' novel Little Dorrit (1857), a
character named Monsieur Rigaud explains to a companion, "I am a cosmopolitan
gentleman. I own no particular country.
My father was Swiss--Canton de Vaud. My
mother was French by blood, English by birth.
I myself was born in Belgium.
I am a citizen of the world."
It's an attractive idea.
Being a citizen of the world sounds like an escape from everything
narrow and provincial, which gives it magnetic appeal to college students eager
to shed their suburban and hometown identities.
Many American colleges and universities have tapped into this longing,
and I've been tracking
this conceit for a while.
Continue reading "Teaching Collegians to Be World Citizens " »
February 12, 2013
From the New Criterion
we noted some of the trends affecting the future of higher education in this
country. One trend is the explosion in tuition and fees over the last several
decades, an explosion matched by the hypertrophy of college administrators, as
more and more "deans of diversity" and programs in non-subjects like women's
studies batten on the economic lifeblood of an institution. At many top-rated
institutions today, the total yearly tab exceeds $60,000.
that money coming from? And--the question of questions--what do you get for it?
Those are questions that more and more parents and prospective students will be
asking, and the colleges and universities that are pimping themselves for
tuition dollars will not like the answer many of them will arrive at.
Spiraling, indeed unsustainable, costs are not the only ominous reality facing
the higher educational establishment.
Continue reading "Moody's and the Crisis of the Universities" »
February 10, 2013
By Daniel B. Klein
to the structure of academia and its ideological leanings sometimes turn up in
policy journals. Here's one: In
the Georgetown Public Policy Review,
Robert L. Oprisko, a visiting
professor at Butler University, notes that "eleven
schools contribute 50 percent of the political science academics to
research-intensive universities in the United States. Over 100 political
science PhD programs are graduating students that will contest the remaining 50
percent of openings. With fewer jobs in the field and a surplus of PhDs in a
tightening market, Oprisko writes, "Many universities are losing the ability to
place their own students within academia. The theoretical consequence of such
hiring practices is that hiring committees often appear to favor people like
themselves rather than candidates from schools like the ones in which they
pattern of placing and hiring new young faculty has implications for the
ideological profile within departments. Think of the academic discipline of
political science as a tribe. The tribe's settlements are situated laterally,
in universities across the country. There is an established hierarchy of
prestige among the settlements. Culturally, however, the array has the
structure of a pyramid. At the apex of the pyramid are the most prestigious
departments. They produce the most new PhDs and they sweep them into positions
up and down the pyramid.
Continue reading "The Tribes That Hire the PhDs" »
February 7, 2013
By Peter Wood
Perhaps as long as people have made maps they have also
made maps of imaginary places. Sometimes
inadvertently, of course. Some
cartographers really did think Terra Australis filled up the
bottom of the globe or the red marks on Mars were the canals of Martian commerce. But imaginary maps have mostly been a
recreation for those not entirely content with prosaic realities.
Reforming higher education sometimes seems to be a
similar pursuit. It is connected--most
likely by an underground passage--to the cartography of the strange and
impossible. Ask the great reformers of
the academy in ages past how it worked out.
Even those who succeeded in creating new institutions--think of Thomas
Jefferson, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Cardinal Newman--imagined far more than
they achieved. It is a humbling
prospect. Of course, most reformers have
to settle for a lot less. Fourteen years
or so before Milton began mapping hell and heaven and everything in between in Paradise Lost, he published "Of Education," (1644) his
proposal for fixing what ailed the English academy. Like today's reformers, he was not in much
doubt about the importance of the education, "one of the greatest and noblest
designs that can be thought on," and one "for want whereof this Nation perishes." Milton's curriculum of Pythagoras and Plato,
the grounds of law and the Attic tragedies, pronunciation, grammar, and
arithmetic, is as beautiful a dream of an imaginary curriculum as the Arabian Nights is a dream of flying
Continue reading "A Hundred Ideas for Reforming Higher Education" »
February 5, 2013
Let us look at the typical liberal/progressive American
who supported President Obama in 2012, who enthusiastically favors raising
taxes on the affluent, and who supports most federal programs designed to help
economically disadvantaged Americans. My guess is this individual also probably
supports vastly expanding federal financial aid to college students, favors
increased state appropriations for universities, and likes giving tax
advantages to them as well. He or she fervently believes that higher education
is a means to achieving the cherished goal of a far more egalitarian society,
with smaller gaps between the haves and the have-nots.
Continue reading "Why Liberals Should Want Less Spending on Colleges" »
February 4, 2013
By Mark Bauerlein
The National Association of
Scholars issued a significant study
of U.S. history teaching at the University of Texas-Austin and Texas A & M
last month that has evoked heated commentary from the history profession.
The report examines basic history instruction and instructors at the two
flagship campuses of the Texas university system and determines that an
inordinate emphasis on race, class, and gender (RRG) social history has set in,
distorting U.S. history to the point of diminishing other topics and approaches
(military history, intellectual history, diplomatic . . .). Not a
surprising finding, to be sure, the value of the study resting on the data it
assembled on course topics and readings plus the self-declared expertise of the
instructors. (I gave the authors feedback on the report last year,
emphasizing the imbalance question and advising that they withhold judgments of
the quality of race-class-gender scholarship and teaching.)
Continue reading "Race/Gender Historians on the Defense" »
February 1, 2013
By Candace de Russy
Benjamin Ginsberg's concern
over the burgeoning administrative bureaucracies on many campuses is
well-placed, but I fear that his proposed remedy of applying the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
in the academy would be doomed from the outset and might even exacerbate the
problem. SOX was designed
to prevent corporate malfeasance and outright fraud by requiring corporations
to bolster checks and balances, levels of control and sign-off, and to ensure
full disclosure in financial reporting and transparency in governance.
Administrative bloat on campuses is rarely the product of such financial
chicanery on the part of campus boards, and state laws, comptrollers and
attorneys general, in addition to whistle-blowers and vigilant education
reporters, ought to be able to address cases involving dishonesty (for example,
nepotistic hiring or the doling out of no-show jobs).
Continue reading "Why Applying Sarbanes-Oxley Is a Bad Idea" »