This piece turned out well, even if some of the suggestions are terrible.
It is a dubious idea, admittedly, to address the dearth of conservatives in academia with a deliberately politicized hiring process. The best remedy to leftward drift or narrow academic bias in the academy surely isn’t the introduction of self-conscious conservative counter-programming, which would remain on the margins in any case. But it is tempting to paraphrase the axiom of that other Churchill (Winston) about democracy: that it’s the worst idea imaginable — except for all of the others that have ever been tried. So, with ever-accumulating evidence of bias against conservatives in academic hiring and advancement, perhaps an effort to introduce a conservative perspective in a high-profile way is an experiment that should be tried.
I insisted on one condition in accepting the appointment: that I be hosted by a regular academic department and teach departmental courses out of the catalogue, rather than be an ornament for an ad hoc or free-floating “conservative studies” program. Setting up a “conservative studies” program would ironically ratify the intellectual rot of the various “studies” departments that have sprung up over the years to appease the most radical, grievance-minded factions in academia. “Conservatism” is not a discrete subject, like biology or English literature; as with liberalism, it is a point of view or disposition that informs nearly all the traditional disciplines. And in any case, even a conservative professor who feels like a Soviet dissident on today’s campuses ought to uphold the traditional model of teaching by presenting a full spectrum of views in the classroom, rather than engage in counter-indoctrination.
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But these glimmers of reform are insufficient to the scale of the decay. Universities won’t begin to turn away from the intellectual corruption of radicalism until some kind of serious, organized opposition arises. A few isolated or token conservatives scattered in various departments, or visiting in a high-profile way, as I did at Boulder, won’t make much of a mark. To speak out alone against the relentless and insatiable demands of grievance leftism is to risk losing out on promotion and advancement, even if you already have tenure. Academic conservatives — along with disaffected moderates and liberals — need to emulate the campus Left and organize effective counter-programming, with their own centers and topical curricula, to contest the intellectual ground on campus. The thin ranks of academic conservatives need a campus rallying point, and a guerrilla mentality to match the determination of the Left. As Hemingway said of writers, conservative faculty ought to stick together like a pack of wolves.
The writer does a good job in explaining the current predicament of the university, although he’s probably too charitable to the sciences and engineering schools. We should expect academia to become even more radical as time goes on.
The best suggestion to the universities would be to figure out a way to terminate most of the faculty. The details of how that would be done aren’t really all that interesting to me. State governments can also gin up methods to deny funding to state universities. The Federal government is not that likely to back off from its commitments to continue inflating the student loan bubble until financial markets somehow force them to do so.
Considering the massive endowments of the most prestigious universities, not to mention the value of the real estate that they own, the faculty and bloated administration can be replaced or reformed. Most universities probably do not need to exist, and can be dismantled as quickly as they were thrown together over the last century.
Since the political side of things is unlikely to change without a financial shock, what parents should strongly consider is to choose alternatives to higher education, like apprenticeship, aggressive pursuit of demanding internships, freelancing, and other similar methods to help their sons to find meaningful work or a vocation without recourse to the university system.
Most university students and parents are not really interested in the academic life, and are instead looking for vocational preparation. The market there has to be un-muddled, so that the two groups of students stop mixing together as much as they have over the last century or so.
Parents that think that the Ivy League schools are major exceptions to the overall trends should audit some classes there and read the university newspaper every day for a year before fronting anything for tuition, room, & board.
American universities are unlikely to enjoy the international reputation that they currently have in the next 20 to 30 years. The catastrophe of the American university may be as long-lasting and devastating as the collapse of the German academic complex was during and after World War II. The problems are broadly understood, but no one in authority has the courage to do what is necessary to set these institutions on a more respectable path.