I Like This Idea

by Jane S. Shaw

David Wilson, president of Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, recommends that Ivy League schools set up exchange programs with HBCUs. Writing in the Washington Post, he says:

The Browns, Harvards and Yales of this country might find that those millions they’re setting aside to promote diversity can be used more effectively by supporting partnering experiences with institutions such as Morgan.

This is a good idea. In fact, fifty years ago, Wellesley College conducted a program that invited talented women from black colleges (back then I don’t think they were historically black; they were simply black) to spend a year at Wellesley. I don’t think there was reciprocation, but there could have been and should be today.

Perhaps the same thing should happen with faculty. Better information and better communication would result. Frankly, this is such an obviously good idea that I’m surprised no one has thought of it.

H-T to Martin Wooster.

Should Elite Colleges Adopt Low-income Preferences?

by George Leef

Suppose that the Supreme Court rules against racial preferences in Fisher – should college and universities that are intent on keeping themselves sufficiently diverse then switch over to low-income preferences? A recent report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation argues that our top schools should adopt such preferences even if racial preferences remain, but that they’d be a great substitute if the Court declares racial preferences unconstitutional. Is there anything to be said for embracing preferences for good students from lower income families?

In today’s Pope Center article, I argue there is not. Whether or not the “elite” colleges and universities necessarily provide a better education (a very dubious idea), a preference for lower income students is apt to create academic mismatch problems just as the current racial preference policies do. Moreover, adding a new preference will merely mean that these schools have to reject other students with academic backgrounds at least as good or better than the ones who would be preferred because of their socio-economic status. Therefore, the recommended preferences won’t do anything to give the nation a “better educated workforce” as the report claims.

There are, however, some good points in the report. It makes a good case against preferences for legacy kids and for athletes who’ll help the school win games. I would be glad to see schools abandon those preferences and concentrate on academic qualifications.

Also, it highlights the successes that the foundation’s “Cooke Scholars” have had. Those are the sorts of students that the reports wants admission preferences for, but without such preferences, the foundation has assisted them in finding their ideal schools, helping them financially, and provided other assistance so the students can graduate. (Interestingly, those students don’t always go to colleges we’d regard as particularly prestigious.) Targeted philanthropy like that is far better than having colleges set up another category of preference that’s apt to produce a lot of mismatches.

What Do the NFL and American Higher Ed Have in Common?

by George Leef

The answer is that both have become obsessed with “diversity.” So argues Texas attorney Mark Pulliam in this sharp essay.

Pulliam focuses in particular on the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview “minority” candidates for head coaching and senior football jobs. The purpose of the rule was simple — to placate the race hustlers and avoid discrimination suits and bad publicity. The higher education establishment works with a de facto Rooney Rule. Faculty and administrative positions must have the right proportions of “minorities” — at least the minorities that count. Rather than pursuing excellence, higher ed pursues another goal: “achieving ‘diversity,’ currying favor with the political correctness crowd.”

Recently, Pulliam writes, his school (University of Texas) adopted a policy that’s “explicitly based on the Rooney Rule, with the avowed goal of making the UT faculty, administrators, and campus leaders more representative of UT’s student body.” Under that policy, supposedly only “qualified” candidates are to be interviewed, but there is, he writes, a “big wink,” namely that every pool of candidates must include women and “underrepresented minorities.” Moreover, “in a departure from the colorblindness that typically accompanies the application process, candidates must be allowed to ‘flag’ their gender and ‘membership in an underrepresented group.’”

There is, however, a large difference between the NFL and higher ed. In the former, there remains a metric of success — winning games. But “Academia has no corresponding criterion for success.”

Read the whole thing.

White Men Shouldn’t Automatically be Precluded, But.....

by George Leef

This Campus Reform piece on the controversy about the choice of the new president at Stanford is illuminating.

The search committee selected former Stanford faculty member and Rockefeller University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne to head the university. Despite his apparently superb qualifications, the usual crowd of complainers is upset because he’s a white man. That of course means that the school has blown it. “We remain disappointed,” the piece quotes the campus critics, “that Stanford, a school that touts diversity in its admissions brochures, failed to take advantage of a crucial opportunity to bring underrepresented groups into its highest level of leadership.”

That sentence tells you a lot about the tribal mentality of the diversity zealots. To them, the most important consideration should be a person’s ancestry and someone who happens to fall into an “underrepresented” group must be preferable to anyone who doesn’t.

The author of the piece, Philip Clark, writes, “Even if diversity were important, however, there are dozens of different types of diversity that need to be optimized for in a Presidential candidate, from academic breadth to managerial expertise across a range of tasks.” Yes, but every person is unique — “diverse” in a great number of ways — so it isn’t diversity that needs to be optimized, but rather competence to do the job.

Starting Over (New Colleges Needed)

by Bernie Reeves

Amazing.  Colleges and universities, the former bastions of free speech and controversial disagreements, are now prison camps of the mind. And like the student activist prototypes hatched in the  1960s, they have no sense of humor. Which is why  Brit comedy superstar John Cleese is  through performing on college campuses. He joins Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians boycotting today’s hypersensitive, politically correct cry babies who demand trigger warnings and safe spaces — the first to let them know they may be offended by different views than their own; the second to provide an ersatz ER Trauma Center to treat emotional damage.

This latest campus absurdity, when added to 40 years of multicultural, politically correct regimes suffered by the top tier schools in the nation, caused Warren Treadgold to pen the essay “The University We Need” in the current Commentary magazine:  Having already reached the conclusion and written colleges and universities have been infiltrated and defeated by the radical scholar movement, I agree the only cure to restore academic credulity is to shut down diseased campuses and start all over again.

Treadgold reports  no new university of note has been started since Leland Stanford endowed the school bearing his name in 1891, making  it high time to start new colleges. Treadgold actually spells out his “conceptual”  blueprint”  for new universities, selecting Princeton as the ideal size  (1000 professors, 5000 undergraduates, 2500 graduate students and slashing the administrative staff). Any larger, the proposed new colleges he envisions  sacrifice teaching effectiveness.

Treadgold recognizes that many  big-dollar donors are in the wings,  only continuing to fund their favorite colleges due to lack of choice. He  even envisions fund-raising would be enhanced if the proposed colleges were part of a new town concept that provides livability aesthetics and development. He lands on Washington, D.C. as an ideal metropolitan center for a new college to locate near. But only after stating there is not a top-tier college in the District, an opinion Georgetown people will find insulting.

Not only is Georgetown a well-regarded university, it does not appear to be heavily  burdened  by gangs of radical professors who discriminate, as Threadgold notes is true of most schools, “against moderates, conservatives, religious believers, and people interested in traditional education….that put academic freedom and quality first….”

Wherever they build, the new ideal colleges and universities, says Treadgold, will employ teachers who are not biased against Western civilization, but also “represent the views of the majority of educated people outside academia.” He also envisions focus on survey courses for entering students rather than “idiosyncratic courses on narrow topics”, which I assume is a slap in the face of identity manifestos masquerading as scholarship.

In the end — and there is much more to contemplate in Treadgold’s ideas — he seems to work backwards to  Cambridge and Oxford colleges, which begs my question: what model were academics in the U.S. using to justify tearing down the highly successful construct of American universities?  Obviously not Cambridge and Oxford, the best schools of higher education in the Western world. They have not abandoned their core pedagogical standards in over 800 years.

The logical conclusion is that our network of higher education was taken over by ideologues dedicated to social revolution, not scholars seeking academic goals. The University We Need  – is needed now.