Author: Keith Whitaker

Keith Whitaker, Ph.D., is a Founding Associate at Wise Counsel Research Associates. He also serves as Chair of the Board of the National Association of Scholars.

Timothy Burns on Leo Strauss on Liberal Education

“What can liberal education mean here and now?” asked Leo Strauss in an address he gave in 1959. Three years later he asked, “What then are the prospects for liberal education within mass democracy?” Timothy Burns, professor of political science at Baylor University—and National Association of Scholars member—recently returned to Strauss’s questions in his searching […]

Read More

Notes from a Founding

This past weekend the University of Austin (UATX) held its second “First Principles Summit.” This Summit brought together professors, administrators, public intellectuals, and business-people. (I was also invited.) The purpose of the gathering was, as UATX President Pano Kanelos explained, to hold UATX’s founders accountable to their first principles. Founding is not for the faint-hearted. […]

Read More

Arms and a (Free) Man

As readers of Minding the Campus are no doubt aware, the Supreme Court recently issued a decision regarding a fundamental right named in the Constitution. Not Dobbs, which expunges a would-be right lurking in certain penumbras, but Bruen, which invalidates state laws that unduly restrict citizens’ Second Amendment right to bear arms. Bruen overturned a […]

Read More

The Wrecker

How much would you pay for a brigantine beached and abandoned on Midway Atoll in the South Pacific? That’s the question faced by the main character of Robert Louis Stevenson and his step-son Lloyd Osbourne’s novel, The Wrecker (1892). The enterprising young man, Loudon Dodd, bids $50,000—something like $2,000,000 in today’s inflated dollars. Loudon’s reckless […]

Read More

Winged Words

On April 9-11 the Center for Political and Economic Thought (CPET) at St. Vincent College held a conference on “Panic, Policy, and Politics.” I was an invited speaker. When I first read the proposed schedule, I saw that nearly half the presentations focused on the panicked response to COVID. That made sense, and was a […]

Read More

NAS by the Numbers

Numbers are in the air we breathe, even thicker than the Omicron variant it seems. Though it’s become passé to mention the COVID case count (53,000 last week, for anyone who’s still interested), one can instead cite 1.4 million (Ukrainian refugees), over 14 million (illegal aliens residing in the United States), 7.5% (US annual inflation), […]

Read More

Purpose and Desire and the University

The National Association of Scholars recently appointed Dr. J. Scott Turner as Director of our Diversity in the Sciences project. Dr. Turner is a retired professor of biology at the State University of New York, though he continues his research on ecology, evolution, and (in particular) termite colonies in Namibia. He is well-positioned to help […]

Read More

Taking Stock of Time

New Year’s is a time when many people, enchanted by the vision of a fresh start, think about time. For those of us habituated to the academic calendar, it can feel more like the hump of the year. I was reminded of its charm, though, in a call last week with a client. He was […]

Read More

Reading Franklin in the Revolution

As we live through our current “Woke” Revolution, it is helpful to reflect on what we can learn from past revolutions and revolutionaries. Long before he was a Founding Father, Ben Franklin was one of the most successful “influencers” (as we’d say now) in the American colonies. His Poor Richard’s Almanack was a multi-decade bestseller. […]

Read More

My Offices

My first office was my best, and it’s been downhill since. I was a junior in college, 20 years old. I worked a few hours each week as a special assistant to the special assistant to my university’s president. About as low on the totem-pole as one could get, yet I had a corner office, […]

Read More

The Barefoot Boy’s Guide to Ownership

  Oh, for boyhood’s time of June, Crowding years in one brief moon, When all the things I heard or saw Me, their master, waited for …   Mine, the sand-rimmed pickerel pond, Mine, the walnut slopes beyond, Mine, on bending orchard trees, Apples of Hesperides!   John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Barefoot Boy” is one of […]

Read More

My Father’s Library

The modern West is unique in being grounded not in a specific land or property, but in a theory of property. A couple, actually. What used to be well-known as the Classical Liberal theory of property—stretching back to Locke and Hobbes—holds that property is the first line of defense of the individual against a potentially […]

Read More

John Silber, R.I.P.

John Silber was not a humble man. In 1996, when he moved up from the presidency of Boston University to the chancellorship, he likened his successor to Joshua and himself to Moses, the only man, according to the Hebrew Bible, who saw God face to face. Today it’s hard to image a college or university […]

Read More