Did the Hoaxers Do Anything Wrong?

One of the three “Sokal Squared” academic hoaxers, Peter Boghossian of Portland State University, has been accused of violating his university’s research policies. Boghossian is the only one of the three to hold an (untenured) academic position and so is the only one vulnerable to disciplinary action. Boghossian and his compatriots parodied fashionable social-“science” research; … Continue reading “Did the Hoaxers Do Anything Wrong?”


What the Hoax Papers Tell Us about the Decline of Academic Standards

By now, most followers of the higher education press have heard of the “grievance studies” or Sokal Squared hoax. In this incident, a team of three researchers successfully published several hoax papers on intentionally absurd subjects in ostensibly serious scholarly journals. Their purpose was to demonstrate the susceptibility of these venues to low-quality, ideologically charged … Continue reading “What the Hoax Papers Tell Us about the Decline of Academic Standards”


Time to Break the Mold for UNC Presidents

The sudden departure of Margaret Spellings from the presidency of the University of North Carolina system presents a unique opportunity to address academia’s most serious problem. The problem is intellectual, not operational or economic. Recent UNC presidents have focused on issues such as access, efficiency, and economic development, as did Spellings. All of these require … Continue reading “Time to Break the Mold for UNC Presidents”


Why Humanities Programs Suffer as the Humanities Themselves Do Great

In recent years, the media has given us dire warnings about the “crisis of the humanities.” In article after article, one reads about falling enrollments in college English departments and funding cuts. Inside Higher Ed, a popular website that covers higher education, reports that English majors have declined 20 percent since 2012. History programs have … Continue reading “Why Humanities Programs Suffer as the Humanities Themselves Do Great”


The New Racism, Part I: How ‘Race and Ethnic Studies’ Made Color Blindness a Bad Thing

Like most Americans, I have always assumed that color blindness is our ideal.  Not any more: color blindness is now become the new racism. So much for a 70-year struggle to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s wish that his children be “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their … Continue reading “The New Racism, Part I: How ‘Race and Ethnic Studies’ Made Color Blindness a Bad Thing”


A Professor’s Tough Examination—Of Our Higher Education System

There are lots of people in our higher education system who claim that it is “the envy of the world” and just needs more money to graduate more young Americans with the degrees that are supposedly in great demand. One naysayer who disputes that rosy picture is Professor Warren Treadgold, who teaches history at Saint … Continue reading “A Professor’s Tough Examination—Of Our Higher Education System”


Duke Divinity School’s Race to the Bottom

The chickens have come home to roost at Duke’s Divinity School. Protesting students claim the school is insufficiently diverse. More needs to be done, they say, to combat racism, transphobia, homophobia, and associated evils. All this despite a campaign by the administration to achieve these very aims in the course of which a distinguished faculty … Continue reading “Duke Divinity School’s Race to the Bottom”


Three Ways Declining English Departments Can Be Relevant Again

A major in English was once a serious endeavor masquerading as a frivolous one. Despite the occasional “do you want fries with that?” condescension from business or science students, the study of literature—immersion in its aesthetic, historical, and philosophical contexts—conserved for posterity a reservoir of truth and paid forward for humanity a legacy of beauty … Continue reading “Three Ways Declining English Departments Can Be Relevant Again”


University Programs Cultivate the Crisis of Relevance in the Arts

I spent the early 1990s in art school. Little did I know that one of most negative experiences I had there was a harbinger for the direction of college art programs. We didn’t have much opportunity to expose our work to the larger public. But once a year the university held a juried, month-long exhibit … Continue reading “University Programs Cultivate the Crisis of Relevance in the Arts”


How Academe Helped to Elect Trump

President Trump scares academe. Many feel threatened, under siege, rejected, aghast. Eric Klineberg, professor of sociology at New York University, summed up this anxiety a few days after the election: “My pulse raced and my blood pressure spiked when I realized that Donald Trump would be president. I felt afraid.” Trump’s victory, he adds, is … Continue reading “How Academe Helped to Elect Trump”