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Get the feeling that Henninger went to Hamilton?

Henninger perfectly captures the general form of the malaise in higher education in his piece today, Bonfire of the Humanities, and we recommend a full reading.  Many of the particulars of this phenomena as relates to Hamilton College are documented on this site, which spans too many years. 
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Our excerpt below of his article may well push the “fair use” doctrine for reproduction. Somehow we don’t think he’ll mind.
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Years ago, when the academic left began to ostracize professors identified as “conservative,” university administrators stood aside or were complicit. The academic left adopted a notion espoused back then by a “New Left” German philosopher—who taught at Brandeis, not coincidentally—that many conservative ideas were immoral and deserved to be suppressed. And so they were.

This shunning and isolation of “conservative” teachers by their left-wing colleagues (with many liberals silent in acquiescence) weakened the foundational ideas of American universities—freedom of inquiry and the speech rights in the First Amendment.

No matter. University presidents, deans, department heads and boards of trustees watched or approved the erosion of their original intellectual framework. The ability of aggrieved professors and their students to concoct behavior, ideas and words that violated political correctness got so loopy that the phrase itself became satirical—though not so funny to profs denied tenure on suspicion of incorrectness. Offensive books were banned and history texts rewritten to conform.

No one could possibly count the compromises of intellectual honesty made on American campuses to reach this point. It is fantastic that the liberal former head of Berkeley should have to sign a Maoist self-criticism to be able to speak at Haverford. Meet America’s Red Guards.

These students at Brandeis, Smith, Haverford and hundreds of other U.S. colleges didn’t discover illiberal intolerance on their own. It is fed to them three times a week by professors of mental conformity. After Brandeis banned Ms. Hirsi Ali, the Harvard Crimson’s editors wrote a rationalizing editorial, “A Rightful Revocation.” The legendary liberal Louis Brandeis (Harvard Law, First Amendment icon) must be spinning in his grave.

Years ago, today’s middle-aged liberals embraced in good faith ideas such as that the Western canon in literature or history should be expanded to include Africa, Asia, Native Americans and such. Fair enough. The activist academic left then grabbed the liberals’ good faith and wrecked it, allowing the nuttiest professors to dumb down courses and even whole disciplines into tendentious gibberish.

The slow disintegration of the humanities into what is virtually agitprop on many campuses is no secret. Professors of economics and the hard sciences roll their eyes in embarrassment at what has happened to once respectable liberal-arts departments at their institutions. Like some Gresham’s Law for Ph.D.s, the bad professors drove out many good, untenured professors, and that includes smart young liberals. Most conservatives were wiped out long ago.

This is your children’s education or used to be. Parents pay for it, but once the child is attending a school they have no way to change the governance of those corrupted institutions, nor anyway to change the professoriate.  Alumni pay for it with generally indiscriminate, unconstrained, emotionally driven donations. Donor intent rarely attaches in form of performance covenants or post audit requirements.
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Organizations like the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education have made significant contributions to sensible reform, but these wheels grind slowly.
 
And how did it happen? Simple: governance. The trustees are responsible for the institutions they governed over the years. 
Posted on May 15, 2014 at 01:28PM by Registered Commenterhb | CommentsPost a Comment

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