Peter Wood

Ahmadine-jabbing American Students

Central Connecticut State University is doing its part for international diplomacy.  The campus newspaper, The Central Reporter, tells us that in late September CCSU professor of political science Ghassan El-Eid brought a dozen CCSC students “to attend a dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran,” who was in New York for a meeting of […]

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Indoctrinating Students Isn’t Easy

UCLA has found a novel way to improve the politicization of its curriculum. UCLA Today, the faculty and staff newspaper, reports that the university’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Sustainability Committee have teamed up to help faculty members across the university figure out ways to slip sustainability messages into their classes, regardless […]

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Barry Commoner, Connected

Barry Commoner died on September 30 at age 95. His passing shouldn’t go unmarked, as he was one of the architects of what has become the dominant ideological movement on American college campuses:  sustainability. Commoner, a professor of biology and a third party candidate in 1980 for President of the United States, was the chief […]

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The Wacky World of Victim Studies

Bruce Bawer’s new book, The Victims’ Revolution:  the Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, arrived on the front page of the “Back to School” issue of the New York Times Book Review.  Any author of a book on higher education would have to be delighted to be awarded such prominence.  The review itself, […]

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Anger and the Banality of Academe

My editors at the Chronicle last week declined to permit me to publish my last piece on the same-sex marriage debate. They pointed out, reasonably enough, the topic is “too far afield from and tangential to academe and academic policy to run on Innovations.” That topic has, of course, had plenty of play on another Chronicle blog, Brainstorm, but I understand […]

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Oppositional Gay Culture and the Future of Marriage

These are banner days for the gay-rights movement. “Banner Days” is in fact the front page headline in The New York Times Book Review for a review of Linda Hirshman’s new book, Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. The reviewer, Rich Benjamin, praises Hirshman’s work but feels the need to chasten her on the extent of […]

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UCLA: Still Obsessed with Diversity

What is it with universities in California? Financially strapped, troubled by protesters making impossible demands, and worried about the declining value of their academic programs, many of the state’s great universities decide to…redouble their commitment to a fast-fading political ideology. The latest example is the impending vote by the faculty of UCLA’s College of Letters […]

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Why They Seem to Rise Together:
Federal Aid and College Tuition

It’s called “the Bennett Hypothesis,” and it explains–or tries to explain–why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, “Federal aid doesn’t help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra […]

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The Keeton Case–An Abuse of Academic Power

Cross-posted from NAS. Several weeks ago, KC Johnson–a scholar I much admire, not least for his fearless dedication to principle–published an essay on Minding the Campus under the title, “Keeton Defense Contradicts NAS Principles.”  We offered Professor Johnson the opportunity to re-post his article or contribute a further statement on the NAS website.  He accepted […]

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BEST and Not Even Second Best on Global Warming

Crossposted at the National Association of Scholars. Last year, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller quietly assembled a team of researchers for the purpose of creating a new and independent assessment of the evidence for global warming.  The group, which eventually called itself Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST), came to public notice in February 2011 in an article by […]

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Higher Sex Ed

This article appeared on the National Association of Scholars site on August 30th. Eros is notorious for its power to thwart our better judgment and to baffle the rational mind. It can draw us to destinations we would do better to avoid and can prompt forms of resistance that are themselves out of balance and […]

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What Happens to the Old Universities?

The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring, $32.95, Jossey-Bass, 475 pages. Online college courses are a “disruptive technology” destined to drive profound changes in higher education in the United States and around the world. This is not an especially new idea. […]

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The Campus Left’s Nostalgia Party – RSVP

I head an organization, the National Association of Scholars (NAS), that is often accused by its critics on the academic left of nostalgia for days when higher education was an exclusive club for the privileged.  The accusation is false.  NAS focuses on the enduring principles of the university:  rational inquiry, liberal learning, and academic freedom.  […]

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Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke

What if all college professors were forced to be higher-education entrepreneurs, with salaries pegged to the number of students they attract to their classes? That’s the model recently proposed by a Texas professor who styled himself “Publius Audax” on a Pajamas Media blog. Publius launched his proposal, he wrote, as the solution to a projected […]

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Amen to Bard’s Reading Program, but…

President Botstein’s portrait of Bard College’s summer reading assignments in the context of the college’s curriculum and larger educational aims is winsome and compelling. The college leads its students astutely into reading important books. It attends to the order in which such books should be read—Virgil before Dante. It is mindful of the need to […]

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Our Academic Freedom Forum

Congratulations to Minding the Campus for its forum on academic freedom. Saying something constructive about academic freedom doesn’t look all that difficult. It is one of the core doctrines of higher education. It has an abundant history, full of colorful characters, eloquent declarations, incisive legal arguments, and enlivening controversies. Yet somehow University of Chicago president […]

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Responding To Weissberg

(This is a response to Robert Weissberg’s “Rescuing The University”) Professor Weissberg’s “Rescuing the University” offers a compact assessment of the frailties of the movement to restore higher education to light and sanity. He also urges the merits of another, he supposes, untried approach. “Guerilla warfare” and “monastery construction” are the unflattering labels he affixes […]

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More From The NAS Conference

Take a look at: Peter Wood’s general account of the conference: “How the Dorms Are Politicized: The Case of the University of Delaware” by Adam Kissel and “The Military And Academe” by Allan Silver

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A Report From Nowhere

A group called Strong American Schools has just issued a report with the provocative title Diploma to Nowhere. The report is a lavishly produced cry of alarm: our high schools are failing. Millions of graduates are tricked into thinking their high school diplomas mean they are “ready for college academics.” But they aren’t. As a […]

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What Does ‘Sustainability’ Have to Do With Student Loans?

The student loan crisis – or near crisis; narrowly-averted crisis ; or postponed crisis – no one is sure – comes co-incidentally at a moment when many colleges and universities are once again repackaging their basic programs. The new buzzword, as John Leo has pointed out is “sustainability.” I also recently tried my hand at […]

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The Aristocratic Reign Of Group Preferences

Defenders and advocates of group preferences generally make their stand on a moral claim: group preferences are needed to advance the common social good. To oppose group preferences is, in turn, to act immorally. The vehemence with which defenders of group preferences frequently speak and the extreme tactics of some pro-preference groups such as By […]

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Student Loans – Sequel To The Mortgage Mess?

A few weeks ago, I alerted readers to the threat of a tightening of the student loan market . Banks have been bundling student loans, like home mortgages, and selling them as securities. First Marblehead Corporation in Boston has been the nation’s biggest player in “securitizing” student loans, and just like home mortgage-backed securities, the […]

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First Mortgages, Now Student Loans?

Last week, First Marblehead Corporation, a Boston-based company, saw its stock plummet after cutting its dividend. The problem? First Marblehead is in the business of “securitizing” student loans. A year ago, this would have required some explanation, but the sub-prime mortgage mess has taught Americans – and people all over the world – the meaning […]

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Another College Aid Boondoggle?

President Bush just signed into law the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, passed by both houses of Congress on September 7. CCRAA – think of a crow signaling to his buddies that dinner is served – comes with the tag line, “The largest investment in higher education since the GI Bill – at no […]

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The Study Abroad Scandal

The New York Times has headlined yet another scandal in higher education: colleges and sometimes individual college officials have been receiving generous “incentives” to steer students into particular study abroad programs. The incentives include financial bounties and free trips abroad for the officials. As the Times points out, the self-dealing by college officials in these […]

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