Higher Education Used to Love Controversy

It is interesting but depressing to me that the more eminent a college or university is perceived to be, the more outrageous are efforts by administrators to stifle individual expression and enforce a numbing conformity of ideas reminiscent of universities in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. The most prestigious group of schools in … Continue reading “Higher Education Used to Love Controversy”


Blueprints for Reform

The university system in the United States has accomplished a great deal of good, but it has strayed from its chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching, especially in the past 20 years. All too often, universities allow teaching to become shallow and trendy, failing to challenge students intellectually and disparaging traditional principles of … Continue reading “Blueprints for Reform”


The Reopening of the American Mind

In 1987, philosopher Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind, a book critiquing higher education in America. As a self-described teacher “dedicated to liberal education,” Bloom offered a thoughtful account of illiberal cultural and ideological trends: Civic education turned away from concentrating on the Founding to concentrating on openness based on history and … Continue reading “The Reopening of the American Mind”


UNC’s Free-Expression Survey Elicits Both Fear and Hope

North Carolina’s public universities have a problem with free expression, and it mostly doesn’t come from censorious administrators or biased faculty members. Instead, it’s the students themselves who muzzle free speech. “Many UNC System students do indeed have significant concerns about expressing political views on campus.” So state the findings of a comprehensive, carefully designed … Continue reading “UNC’s Free-Expression Survey Elicits Both Fear and Hope”


Liberty Institute’s failure to launch

To the editor: How disappointing to have read Professor Lowery’s article on the abject failure of UT leadership.  As the saying goes:  “no good deed goes unpunished…”.  In this case it is “no good idea goes unpunished”. How long will it be until Associate Professor Richard Lowery will find himself looking for a job in … Continue reading “Liberty Institute’s failure to launch”


How UT-Austin Administrators Destroyed an Intellectual Diversity Initiative

By now, only the most dishonest or intentionally ignorant observers deny the existential crisis facing higher education. Universities no longer even maintain the pretense of dispassionate rational and free inquiry, focusing instead on a particularly toxic and frankly absurd form of “social-justice” activism, increasingly even in the hard sciences. Why does this situation persist? Here, … Continue reading “How UT-Austin Administrators Destroyed an Intellectual Diversity Initiative”


The Public Discourse Program at UNC-Chapel Hill: Expanding Students’ Minds

Since the rise of social media, many students have gotten used to discussing difficult topics within the protection of their own echo chambers. Students are often not expected to defend their points of view or engage with others of differing opinions. While universities frequently support such closed-mindedness with “safe spaces” and the barring of certain … Continue reading “The Public Discourse Program at UNC-Chapel Hill: Expanding Students’ Minds”


The Very Model of a Modern University President

While American higher education often is rightly condemned for being inefficient, non-innovative, and resistant to change, there are exceptions, and there are some collegiate entrepreneurs whose success is worthy of commendation and emulation. To me, the top award for American higher education innovation must go to Mitch Daniels, who is just beginning his tenth year … Continue reading “The Very Model of a Modern University President”


A Frenemy on the Left: Robert Boyers on The Tyranny of Virtue

I have long been fond of saying that there are colleagues for whom I would be delighted to vote if they sought my support for service on a university committee, but not if they were running for political office. I’d like to think that Robert Boyers, a genuine literary intellectual who teaches at Skidmore College … Continue reading “A Frenemy on the Left: Robert Boyers on The Tyranny of Virtue


The UNC Alumni Free Speech Alliance: A Conversation with a Founding Member

Alumni have been making their voices heard over the past few months. After seeing the alarming direction that their alma maters are taking, alumni at institutions such as Davidson College, the University of Virginia, and Washington & Lee have decided to unite around the principles of free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity. These alumni … Continue reading “The UNC Alumni Free Speech Alliance: A Conversation with a Founding Member”