NAS was founded in 1987 by Dr. Stephen Balch and others. For several years before that the founding members had been meeting under the name Campus Coalition for Democracy. Balch at the time was a professor of political science at John Jay College. NAS was created to confront the rising threat of politicization of colleges and universities and to summon faculty members back to the principles of liberal education and disciplined intellectual inquiry.
1987 – The National Association of Scholars opens its first office in Princeton, New Jersey.
1988 – NAS’s first national membership conference is held in New York City.
1988 – The first issue of NAS’s quarterly journal Academic Questions is published.
1992 – NAS proposes and helps establish the American Association for Liberal Education (AALE), an accreditation body focused on liberal education, now located in Washington, D.C.
1993 – NAS, working with its members on campuses around the country, inaugurates a nationwide campaign to establish new academic programs on Western civilization, the study of free institutions and the American founding. Over forty such programs have since been created.
1993 – NAS publishes a widely-noted statement on campus sexual harassment policies, “Sexual Harassment and Academic Freedom.”
1994 – NAS proposes and helps establish the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (now the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers), dedicated to enriching the quality of literary scholarship, now located at Boston University.
1995 – NAS proposes and helps establish the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a higher education reform group devoted to working with governing boards and donors, now located in Washington, D.C.
1996 – NAS publishes The Dissolution of General Education: 1914-1993, a report documenting the erosion of higher education’s commitment to providing undergraduates with a broad and rigorous exposure to major areas of knowledge.
1996 – California voters pass Proposition 209—legislation drafted by NAS members, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative—banning racial and ethnic discrimination in California public universities.
1997 – NAS holds its first national workshop for academic program designers at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with a focus on Great Books programs.
1998 – NAS helps establish The Historical Society, committed to fostering serious historical scholarship, now located at Boston University.
2000 – NAS publishes Losing the Big Picture: The Fragmentation of the English Major Since 1984, a study of the disintegration of the English major between 1964 and 1998.
2001 – During the run-up to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger (the racial-preferences-in-college-admissions cases), NAS publishes a detailed examination, Race and Higher Education, of the principal research report put forward by the University of Michigan in support of its admissions policies.
2003 – NAS holds second national workshop for academic program designers at Princeton University with a focus on the study of free institutions.
2004 – NAS creates the Association for the Study of Free Institutions, now head-quartered at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
2007 – NAS publishes The Scandal of Social Work Education, a report on the ideological mandates imposed on students at schools of social work in the United States.
2007 – Stephen Balch receives the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush for his contributions to liberal education.
2009 – Peter W. Wood becomes NAS’s second NAS president and Stephen Balch becomes chairman.
2009 – Stephen Balch receives the Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the American Conservative Union Foundation.
2010 – NAS publishes the first comprehensive study of college common reading programs and the books these programs assign, Beach Books: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class?
2011 – NAS publishes The Vanishing West: 1964-2010, a report on the gradual disappearance of once-vital Western Civilization courses from college curricula.
2011 – NAS publishes new edition of Beach Books for the 2011-2012 academic year.
2012 – NAS publishes A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California, a report prepared for the UC Regents by the California Association of Scholars.
2013 – NAS publishes Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?, an investigation by the Texas Association of Scholars on whether race, class, and gender are displacing other important approaches to the study of American history.
2013 – NAS publishes What Does Bowdoin Teach? How a Contemporary Liberal Arts College Shapes Students, an in-depth case study to learn what a contemporary liberal arts college education consists of.