John Leo

Our ‘Historically Illiterate’ Young

David McCullough on 60 Minutes last night: “We are raising children in America today who are by and large historically illiterate…I ran into some students on university campuses who were bright and attractive and likeable. And I was just stunned by how much they didn’t know. One young woman at a university in the Midwest […]

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Plagiarism and Feelings at Amherst

Carleen Basler, a professor at Amherst who said she struggled with her writing, resigned after she was caught plagiarizing and the Amherst Student did a good job covering the story. So far, so good. But Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit notices a few odd paragraphs in the paper’s report: Since some believe that Basler did not […]

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Harvard Tells the Freshmen What to Read

Harry Lewis, a professor and former dean of Harvard College, wrote yesterday that the texts Harvard freshmen are reading this year “are more politically correct and less challenging than they used to be.” Yes, it would seem so. Here are this year’s readings: A More Perfect Union, Barack Obama Whistling Vivaldi , Claude M. Steele Choosing the Color […]

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Wake Us Gently–We’re Students

It probably had to happen. The conversion of campuses into luxurious spa-like retreats started at elite and well-heeled institutions and has now spread to smaller, lesser-known colleges. The newest student residence at Saint Leo University in Florida houses nap pods, an electronic gaming area with four flat-screen televisions, a workout area and an arcade complete […]

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The No-Art Art History Textbook

In a story helpfully marked “Not the Onion,” Gawker reports that Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design is requiring students to purchase a $180 art history textbook that has no images of art at all. The father of one student says the publisher of the book, Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800, […]

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Those Mealy-Mouthed Statements from Our Cairo Embassy

Near the beginning of Bruce Bawer’s strong new book, The Victims’ Revolution, he talks about the anti-American attitudes that are nearly mandatory on campuses today and how they radiate throughout our culture. Those attitudes, inculcated by so many professors, range from apologetic and guilt-ridden to outright contemptuous and reflexively supportive of our enemies. The incredibly […]

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Politicians Push Professors Leftward

Another wacky idea from California: forcing teachers in the state university system to provide some form of social service as a condition of achieving tenure. Assembly Bill 2132, which passed in the legislature and is now awaiting  Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, “encourages” the independent University of California to include a demonstration of “service” in its […]

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The NCAA Revokes the Past

Joe Paterno’s statue at Penn State was taken down not because it was “divisive,” at the university’s new president foolishly said, but because Paterno was morally obtuse and unworthy of the honor. So far so good. But what should we think of the NCAA’s flabbergasting decision to erase history–vacating 13 years of football wins? As […]

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Choices Matter in Avoiding Poverty

As many critics have noticed, the gap between Page One news coverage of social issues in the New York Times and the editorial response inside is often not a spacious one. Yesterday the Times ran a huge news article (more than two full pages), “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,” on the economic and social […]

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Two Small Cracks in the PC/Diversity Regime

Peter Wood’s latest blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Leftist Nostalgia for Academic Standards,” is a must read. Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, weaves a fascinating commentary about two unexpected cracks in the current (and ruinous) regime of higher education: one a lament about the impact of literary theory by one […]

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Attack on a Left-Leaning One Percenter

Almost everybody famous, inventive, erudite, or eccentric has spoken at some time or other at the great TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design)–make that TED conferences, once held only in Monterery, now in Long Beach and Palm Springs, and various sites in Europe and Asia. Now a controversy has broken out over a 6-minute talk delivered […]

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What’s an URM and Who Is One?

The recent flap over Elizabeth Warren’s claimed Cherokeeness has both raised and obscured a question at the core of debates over affirmative action: just who should receive the preferential treatment it bestows? The standard answer to that question preferred by those who support the current regime of racial preference is “underrepresented minority,” or URM, a […]

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If You Must Give a Commencement Speech…

(from City Journal, summer 1998) Like many people, I can deliver a competent public speech without much fuss. But a commencement address is different. I can’t recall stewing about a speech as much as I did before donning academic garb and talking at the St. John’s College graduation in Santa Fe on May 17. After […]

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A Controversy at Post-Catholic Georgetown

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, is scheduled to speak Friday at a Georgetown University commencement event, setting off protests among Catholics and others who believe the Obamacare mandate violates religious liberty. So far, some 25,000 people have signed petitions asking for the invitation to be withdrawn. On campus, the reaction seems more […]

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Why She Was Fired

Why did the Chronicle of Higher Education fire Naomi Schaefer Riley? Writing on the American Thinker site, Abraham Miller offers a deft and elegantly phrased explanation: “for revealing what almost everyone on any campus knows, but is reluctant to say, about black studies: it is a political cause masquerading as an academic discipline, and if […]

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A Blogger’s Warning to Academics

Until Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) began linking to Walter Russell Mead at Via Meadia, I hadn’t been aware of Mead’s work. He is a superb blogger on many subjects. Today, for example, he offers an impressive assessment of the Chen Guangcheng case, the best I’ve read so far. Though his expertise is foreign policy–please don’t stop […]

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Muslims, NYPD and Dubious Journalism Awards

The Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School has weighed in on the long Associated Press series of articles attacking the New York Police Department for its surveillance of Muslims. This series has won a Polk Award, a White House Correspondents Association award, a Pulitzer Prize and now $25,000 from the Shorenstein Center for excellence […]

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Can’t Talk–Faculty Are Nearby

We sometimes Google our contributors to see how they are doing. That’s how we noticed that Professor Donald A. Downs of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, delivered a talk on free speech at another branch of the University of Wisconsin (River Falls) and added these words in a letter to the student paper praising its […]

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It’s Commencement Protest Season

Since colleges and universities are coming to the end of the 2011-2012 school year, that means it’s time for commencement protests to begin. Here are some commencement speakers and the reasons given for the irritation they provoke among students:

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The Sociologist as Ethical Entrepreneur

Jonathan B. Imber, the Jean Glasscock professor of sociology at Wellesley and editor of Society, offered a tribute in the April 27 Chronicle of Higher Education to Irving Louis Horowitz, who died last month at the age of 82. Horowitz, a renowned sociologist, was the founder of Society, and a major academic publisher. An excerpt:

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The Battle at Vanderbilt Goes National

Various colleges and universities have tried for years to hobble or eliminate Christian student groups. Some of these institutions have succeeded in forcing these groups to knuckle under. Other administrations have backed down rather than face lawsuits. The primary tactic has been using anti-discrimination regulations to force these groups to allow non-believers as officers. Evangelical […]

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The University of California Does Not Like Criticism

“A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California,” a recent report from the California Association of Scholars (CAS), detailed the radicalization and decline of the once-great UCal system. Charlotte Allen wrote about it here.

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Teach Them What to Think, and Maybe Bribe Them Too

Do some professors offer bribes to their students for promising to support leftist causes? Yes, it happens, and a few teachers, at least, see nothing wrong with it. Mary Grabar, a regular contributor to this site, discusses the practice here, and has video of a Georgia State education professor named Jennifer Esposito offering extra marks […]

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Harvard’s Level of Tolerance–Lower Than You Think

We missed this unusual column when it appeared in the Harvard Crimson two weeks ago, but it’s worthy of comment even at this late date. It begins with Olympia Snow’s complaint that the Senate is not a place “that ensures all voices are heard and considered,” then moves swiftly to argue that Harvard isn’t such […]

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One Result of Income Inequality–Dubious Psychological Studies

As an academic specialty, psychology suffers from a distinct lack of respect. For one clue as to why, consider the story last week on Inside Higher Ed, Does Income Inequality Promote Cheating?. A doctoral student at Queens University in Ontario says yes–and he didn’t even have to leave his computer to reach that conclusion. A […]

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Uh-oh, Students Are Starting to Talk Like Administrators

This is an excerpt from the Q&A following talks March 28 by KC Johnson and Harvey Silverglate on campus “Kangaroo Courts” that fit no concept of the fairness or justice valued in the rest of America. Here Harvey Silverglate expresses concern that students are beginning to imbibe “the utter, arrant nonsense” of their campus prosecutors. […]

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‘Feelings’ as the Measure of Student Misconduct

Two of our best writers here at Minding the Campus, KC Johnson and Harvey Silverglate, spoke quite brilliantly at a Manhattan Institute luncheon last Wednesday on “Kangaroo Courts: Yale, Duke and Student Rights.” It is, in our opinion, the best possible short course for understanding the star-chamber proceedings that students face these days at campuses […]

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Even Zimmerman Has Rights

George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, has been an in-and-out student at Seminole State College. Now he is out–expelled by the college. Why did Seminole do this? Zimmerman is certainly in a lot of trouble, but he has not yet been convicted, tried, indicted or even arrested. Did the college […]

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The GOP “Turn” Against Colleges and Universities

We noticed an article the other day on The Atlantic web site, arguing that the Republican Party is turning against higher education. The evidence cited for this apparently alarming development was scant: Rick Santorum referred to colleges as “indoctrination mills,” and Mitt Romney told high-school seniors to shop around for low college tuition and not […]

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A Good Debate on Affirmative Action

The third round of a very engaging and amiable debate on affirmative action is here on the National Association of Scholars site. The debaters are James P. Sterba, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and author of “Affirmative Action for the Future” (pro) and George Leef, a frequent writer here, director of research for the […]

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