Phi Beta Cons

Starting Over (New Colleges Needed)

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.

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