Minding the Campus

  • The Achilles Heel of the U.S. News Rankings
    Minding the Campus on May 13, 2010

    In 1983 U.S. News & World Report came up with what Ben Wildavsky, a former education editor at the magazine, described as "a journalistic parlor game." The magazine had just conducted a successful survey of U.S. leaders to identify the most influential Americans. Why not, the editors asked, use a similar approach to identify the country's top colleges and universities?


  • Sustainability---More Cash and a Softer Side
    Minding the Campus on May 10, 2010

    With great fanfare Columbia University recently announced that starting this fall it will offer an undergraduate major in the new interdisciplinary field of "sustainable development." That makes Columbia the first Ivy League school to offer such a major, which sounds as though it ought to be a practical mix of hard science, "green" technology, and tough-minded economics joining forces to combat Third World poverty without polluting or deforesting the Third World in the process. In fact, however, undergraduate sustainability majors on many campuses tend to be light on science but heavy on ideology.


  • What Is For-Profit Education Really Like?
    Minding the Campus on May 5, 2010

    From the beginning, Frontline's new documentary College, Inc seems tailor-made to scare the living daylights out of the series' presumably progressive audience.


  • The Politically Correct University and How to Fix It
    Minding the Campus on May 2, 2010

    With various co-authors, University of British Columbia Sociologist Neil Gross has made a cottage industry of downplaying charges that academia is politically correct. Seemingly, the left's domination of social science and humanities departments is of no more concern than the fact, cited by Thomas Sowell, that in the 1990s, Cambodians ran 90 percent of California's donut shops. Gross's studies appeal because they serve the psychological needs of professors. It is comforting to think that we smart folks just happen to surround ourselves with people who think just like we do.


  • The Cave-Dwellers of Shimer
    Minding the Campus on April 29, 2010

    20071204_Shimer_color_trans_bckgrd.jpgOn 19 April, the board of trustees of Shimer College in Chicago, by an 18 to 16 vote, ousted Dr. Thomas Lindsay from the presidency after little more than a year of service.


  • More Subterfuge at UCal
    Minding the Campus on April 28, 2010

    By Ward Connerly Although my years of service on the University of California (UC) Board of Regents were the most tumultuous years of my life, my pride in the Board and the university that it serves has, until now, never wavered. But, a recent meeting and action by the Board has caused that feeling of pride to diminish.


  • A Dose of Poetic Justice at Cornell
    Minding the Campus on April 25, 2010

    During a conversation at an academic conference, a professor from an Ivy League school refers to two female graduate students as "black bitches." After the students report the incident, the professor apologizes -- but it takes another two months, and vociferous protests from the campus black community, for the university officials to acknowledge the issue publicly, announce mild sanctions against the professor, and state that an investigation was underway.


  • A Fresh View of Cold-War America
    Minding the Campus on April 22, 2010

    DeltonJennifer.jpgTeaching in the universities about the so-called McCarthy era has become an area most susceptible to politically correct and one-sided views of what the period was all about. One historian who strenuously objects to the accepted left-wing interpretation that prevails in the academy is Jennifer Delton, Chairman of the Department of History at Skidmore College. In the March issue of The Journal of the Historical Society Delton writes:

    However fiercely historians disagree about the merits of American Communism, they almost universally agree that the post-World War II Red scare signified a rightward turn in American politics. The consensus is that an exaggerated, irrational fear of communism, bolstered by a few spectacular spy cases, created an atmosphere of persecution and hysteria that was exploited and fanned by conservative opportunists such as Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy. This hysteria suppressed rival ideologies and curtailed the New Deal, leading to a resurgence of conservative ideas and corporate influence in government. We may add detail and nuance to this story, but this, basically, is what we tell our students and ourselves about post-World War II anti-Communism, also known as McCarthyism. It is fundamentally the same story that liberals have told since Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss of being a Communist spy in 1948.

    This conventional narrative of the left has been told over and over for so many years that it has all but become the established truth to most Americans…


  • The Skewing of American History
    Minding the Campus on April 22, 2010

    iowa.bmpA few years ago, the University of Iowa's History Department conducted a search for a new hire in U.S. foreign relations. After the department denied a preliminary, or screening, interview to Mark Moyar---a seemingly qualified, but also clearly conservative, historian---it came to light that the department's faculty had a Democrat-to-Republican ratio of 22:0.

    The department's explanations for this discrepancy were almost comical. First, department chairman Colin Gordon attributed the department's not having hired any Republicans to the fact that "about two thirds of Johnson County are Democrats"---as if 67 percent equals 100 percent, and as if all of the applicants for jobs in Iowa's History Department came from the University's home county…


  • Bake Sale Argument in the Supreme Court
    Minding the Campus on April 21, 2010

    By John Rosenberg On Monday the Supreme Court heard arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a case that pitted the right to free association against the principle of non-discrimination. Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, part of the University of California system, has a policy stating that recognized student organizations "shall not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sex or sexual orientation." Based on that policy, it refused to grant official recognition (and hence access to college facilities, student funds, student email lists, etc) to the Christian Legal Society because that organization limited voting membership and the right to be an officer to those who share its Christian views. According to critics, such as Justice Scalia, Hastings' policy is both "weird" and "crazy."


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Mid-length articles on the politics, the business, and the philosophy of higher education, and how a traditional liberal arts education is faring in contemporary academia.

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