Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Question: How Many Ward Churchills Are There?


Answer: Ward Churchills abound. Tomorrow the University of Colorado will announce the results of its lengthy investigation of ethnic-studies professor and political agitator Ward Churchill. But regardless of whether Churchill is found guilty of academic misconduct or exonerated of the charges against him, our national interest in what Churchill represents should not end with the conclusion of his own scandalous story.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has just released a report on the “Ward Churchill phenomenon” that shows how widespread the problem of politically extreme professors is in this country.

Focussing on publicly available online course descriptions, departmental web pages, electronic syllabi, and online course materials, “How Many Ward Churchills” studies how instructors at the nation’s top colleges and universities describe their teaching philosophies and frame their courses. The result is a disturbing window into an academic culture that–despite frequent protests to the contrary–actively cultivates politically one-sided teaching and openly dispenses with the ethical imperative to respect students’ academic freedom to learn about all sides of the issues.

The report offers a number of ways colleges and universities can address the issue of politically skewed classrooms, including post-tenure review, institutional self-study, hiring administrators who are committed to intellectual diversity, and reviewing hiring and promotion practices to ensure that scholarship and teaching–not ideological litmus tests–are the foundation for lifelong teaching.

Most broadly, ACTA urges students, parents, alumni, trustees, elected officials, and concerned citizens to make the intellectual climate of higher education their business–to demand better information about what is happening in colleges across America and to exact more accountability from the colleges and universities they support.


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