Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

Apr 24, 2018 |  Mitchell Langbert

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Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

Apr 24, 2018 | 

Mitchell Langbert

In this article I offer new evidence about something readers of Academic Questions already know: The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free—having zero Republicans. The political registration in most of the remaining 61 percent, with a few important exceptions, is slightly more than zero percent but nevertheless absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation. Thus, 78.2 percent of the academic departments in my sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.

My sample of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News 2017 report consists of 5,197, or 59.8 percent, who are registered either Republican or Democrat. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio (D:R) across the sample is 10.4:1, but because of an anomaly in the definition of what constitutes a liberal arts college in the U.S. News survey, I include two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis.1 If these are excluded, the D:R ratio is a whopping 12.7:1.

Why Political Homogeneity Is Troubling

Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility. In a recent book on social psychology, The Politics of Social Psychology edited by Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim, Mark J. Brandt and Anna Katarina Spälti, show that because of left-wing bias, psychologists are far more likely to study the character and evolution of individuals on the Right than individuals on the Left.2 Inevitably affecting the quality of this research, though, George Yancey found that sociologists prefer not to work with fundamentalists, evangelicals, National Rifle Association members, and Republicans.3 Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant. In the study of gender, Charlotta Stern finds that the ideological presumptions in sociology prevent any but the no-differences-between-genders assumptions of left-leaning sociologists from making serious research inroads. So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education.4 The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so.

The Nonconforming Few

A few liberal arts colleges are outliers and do not conform to the standard liberal slant. One, Thomas Aquinas, has thirty-three full-time faculty and all are Republican. The two military colleges in my sample, West Point and Annapolis, have D:R ratios of 1.3:1 and 2.3:1. Although it is debatable whether military colleges are liberal arts colleges, U.S. News’s inclusion of them in the liberal arts category is fortuitous because they offer evidence that when colleges provide supportive environments, intellectual diversity is achievable. There are other exceptions, such as Claremont McKenna, which adopted a viewpoint diversity strategy early in its history, and Kenyon, which is one of a few of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges located in a predominantly Republican state and which did not become coed until 1969.

Thomas Aquinas and St. John’s, another college with above average Republican representation, have emphasized interdisciplinary teaching and downplayed the publish or perish imperative, which Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern have argued contributes to left-oriented groupthink.5 The exceptions to the Democratic-only rule indicate that institutional factors and discrimination might be key reasons for political homogeneity in the liberal arts colleges.

Trend toward Homogeneity

Noah Carl shows that in Britain the trend has been toward increasing leftward affiliation.6 The same has been true in the U.S. More than a decade ago, Stanley Rothman and colleagues provided evidence that while 39 percent of the professoriate on average described itself as Left in 1984, 72 percent did so in 1999. They find a national average D:R ratio of 4.5:1.7 More recently, Anthony J. Quain, Daniel B. Klein, and I find D:R ratios of 11.5:1 in the social science departments of highly ranked national universities.8 This study finds a D:R ratio of 10.4:1 across all liberal arts departments if the military colleges are included and 12.7:1 if the military colleges are excluded.

Data

The fifty-one institutions in this study are among the top sixty-six-ranked U.S. News and World Report national liberal arts colleges for 2017. The data are limited to the fifty-one colleges located in twelve states that host at least one of the top sixty-six colleges and that make voter registration information public.9 One college, the United States Air Force Academy, does not provide a full faculty list online and refused to comply with my Freedom of Information Act request for a complete faculty list.

To obtain data, I consulted the online website of each college and identified the full-time, Ph.D.–holding professors in each department. I limited the sample to full-time, Ph.D.–holding tenure-track faculty who are identified as full, associate, or assistant professors. Thus, I omitted short-term-contract, adjunct, visiting, and emeritus professors. A research assistant helped with the Pennsylvania colleges.

I began work in February 2017 and finished in September 2017. The sample, which includes individuals not registered, amounts to 8,688 professors in fifty-one institutions. In three institutions, St. John’s, Thomas Aquinas, and Sarah Lawrence, I was unable to determine academic ranks, so ranks are missing. In St. John’s and Thomas Aquinas I was unable to determine fields of specialization, so the academic field was omitted from these two colleges.

Nonregistration

Not all professors register to vote. In 2016, Quain, Klein, and I find that 29.7 percent of our sample of professors at top-tier social science departments were unregistered, but that 15.7 percent of this group were so classified because the presence of other people with the same name on voter registration rolls made determining registration impossible. 10 In this study, I find that a lower proportion—23.4 percent— of the sample is unregistered.

It is not possible to accurately measure the political affiliations of professors registered as “independent,” “no affiliation,” or “other,” whom I lumped together in a category I called “No Party” or “NP.” Since Gallup found in 2014 that 47 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans say that a third party is needed, there seems little reason to believe that one party or ideology is more strongly associated with non-affiliation. 11 There is suspicion of the two-party system on both Left and Right.

I needed to make a number of judgment calls with respect to the assignment of faculty to neighboring fields. For instance, I assigned biologically oriented neuroscience faculty to biology and psychologically oriented neuroscience faculty to psychology. I aggregated the studies fields (gender studies, Africana studies) into one category, which I call “interdisciplinary studies.” As well, I aggregated the professional fields (accounting, business, nursing) into one category called “professional.”

Only 101 professors in the sample are registered with minor parties. Since they are only 1.2 percent of the sample of 8,688 professors, I omitted them from most of the analyses.

Findings

 

D:R Ratios by Field

Figure 1 illustrates the sharp differences across the departments or fields in the liberal arts colleges. The D:R ratios range from 1.6:1 for engineering to 56:0 and 108:0 for communications and interdisciplinary studies.

Figure 1
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican in 25 Academic Fields

The STEM subjects, such as chemistry, economics, mathematics, and physics, have lower D:R ratios than the social sciences and humanities. The highest D:R ratio of all is for the most ideological field: interdisciplinary studies. I could not find a single Republican with an exclusive appointment to fields like gender studies, Africana studies, and peace studies. As Fabio Rojas describes with respect to Africana or Black studies, these fields had their roots in ideologically motivated political movements that crystallized in the 1960s and 1970s.12

Figure 2 gives a picture of how the broad liberal arts fields compare with respect to political affiliation. The professional field has the least extreme (but still unbalanced) D:R ratio while ideologically rooted interdisciplinary studies has the most extreme. The hard sciences are more balanced than the social sciences and the humanities.

Figure 2
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican in Five Broad Fields

D:R Ratios by College

Table 1 lists the Democratic-to-Republican ratio of each college in the sample. I could not find any full-time, Republican-registered faculty at Bryn Mawr and Soka, and I could not find any full-time, Democratic-registered faculty at Thomas Aquinas. For example, I identified 254 full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors at Williams. Of these, 132 are registered Democratic, and one is registered Republican, so the D:R ratio is 132:1. Since not all colleges offer all fields, the ratios are influenced by the majors offered and by demographic factors, such as the proportion of the faculty that is female.

In order to get a sense of how far away from employing zero Republicans the colleges are, I performed t-tests to determine the number of colleges for which zero falls within the margin of error from the observed proportion of Republicans.13 In other words, I wanted to determine the number of colleges for which the proportion of Republicans is not statistically different from zero. For fifteen of the colleges, zero falls within the margin of error, so the proportion of Republicans can be said to not significantly differ from zero. In an additional five colleges, the lower confidence interval just equals zero at three decimal digits. Thus, for twenty of fifty-one colleges, or 39.2 percent, the proportion of Republicans does not significantly differ from zero.

Table 1 D:R Rations by College

Table 2 gives the raw numbers from which I computed the D:R ratios by college. Thomas Aquinas and St. John’s College rely on an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach and do not indicate departments. I found 808 departments that do not employ a single Republican, and I found only 225 departments that do. Thus, 78.2 percent of departments do not employ a single Republican while 21.8 percent do.

Gender and Political Homogeneity

Figure 3 shows that the D:R ratios among the elite liberal arts faculty are 20.8:1 for females and 7.2:1 for males. When the two military colleges are excluded, the ratios are 25.2:1 for females and 8.7:1 for males. Langbert, Quain, and Klein find a similar gender imbalance in elite research universities: 24.8:1 for females and 9.0:1 for males.14

Figure 3
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican by Gender

U.S. News Rank and Homogeneity

Since the days of C.B. Spaulding and H.A. Turner, Burton R. Clark, and Everett Carll Ladd Jr. and Seymour Martin Lipset, researchers have noticed that elite colleges have tended to lean left.15 In this sample, when I exclude the two military colleges and break the remaining ones into quartile tiers based on U.S. News rank, that pattern is sustained (see Figure 4).

Figure 4
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican by US News Rank (49 Non-military Colleges)

Region and Homogeneity

Samuel J. Abrams has pointed out that colleges in New England tend to lean further to the left than other colleges.16 Figure 5 shows the D:R ratios for the non-military colleges in five sets of states: New England and New York (NE); Pennsylvania and Maryland; California and Colorado; Kentucky and North Carolina; and Ohio and Iowa. As Abrams predicts, the ratio is highest in New York and New England

Figure 5
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican by Region (49 Non-military Colleges)

Given regional differences, it seems likely that state political variables will be associated with faculty political affiliation, yet little work has been done in this regard. Public choice theory predicts that compact organizations like colleges and academic fields will function effectively as lobbies.17 David A. Tandberg suggests that both state government control and state mass opinion might influence political attitudes in higher education.18 Tandberg cites research indicating that the governor is the most important influence on higher education policy.

I used two measures: the Cato Institute ratings of governors and the Gallup ratings of state politics for 2016–2017.19 The Gallup ratings indicate whether public opinion in the state is strongly Democratic or Republican, leans Democratic or Republican, or is competitive. For the Cato measure I took the mean of their 2010 and 2016 rankings because a number of gubernatorial administrations have recently changed.

Figure 6 shows that there are significant associations between (a) Gallup ratings of public opinion and Cato governor ratings and (b) faculty partisan affiliation. In Gallup Republican states, the D:R ratio is 6.6:1 while in Gallup Democratic states the ratio is 15.8:1. In states with Cato governor ranking above 50, indicating a relatively free market orientation, the ratio is 7.4:1 while in states with Cato rankings below 50, the Democratic-to-Republican ratio is 15.4:1. These differences are statistically significant.

Figure 6
Number of Democratic Faculty Members for Every Republican by Politics of State (49 Non-military Colleges)

Conclusion

In this paper I find that D:R ratios among fifty-one of the top sixty-six U.S. News-ranked colleges average 10.4:1., Excluding Annapolis and West Point raises the ratio to 12.7:1. This compares with a national D:R ratio of 1.6:1 for people who have some graduate school experience. 

Some STEM fields come close to the baseline national average of 1.6:1; potentially ideologically linked fields, especially the interdisciplinary studies fields, do not. Thus, the D:R ratio for engineering is 1.6:1 while for the interdisciplinary studies fields it is 108:0.

Institutional factors at the state government level as well as at the individual college level may play some causal role. Professors in more Democratic states, especially in New York and New England, are more often affiliated with the Democratic Party than in other states.

Since the 1960s, a few liberal arts colleges have not conformed to the homogenizing trend, and these demonstrate that institutional characteristics, at a minimum, contribute to faculty political affiliation in liberal arts colleges. Thomas Aquinas is all Republican, and the two military colleges in my sample, West Point and Annapolis, have D:R ratios of 1.3:1 and 2.3:1. Studies that focus on grand means ignore the association of affiliation rates with institutional characteristics.

These findings suggest important implications for research and policy. For research, a coherent causal model of the imbalance in political affiliation in colleges requires that statistical models integrate institutional effects with individual faculty characteristics. For policy, if political homogeneity is embedded in college culture, attempting to reform colleges by changing their cultures seems a very tall order. The solution to viewpoint homogeneity may lie in establishing new colleges from the ground up, rather than in reforming existing ones.


Mitchell Langbert is associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY 11210; MLangbert@HVC.RR.com. The author thanks the Searle Freedom Trust for its financial support, Brooklyn College for a year of faculty leave, and Glenda R. McGee for research assistance. The author also thanks James Dalton, Ward Elliott, Bruce Fleming, J. Philip Gleason, Lee Jussim, Daniel B. Klein, and David O’Brien for institutional background and other information. 


Footnotes:

1 David W. Breneman “Are We Losing Our Liberal Arts Colleges?” AAHE Bulletin 43, no. 2 (October 1990): 3–6, available at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED339260.pdf) defines liberal arts colleges as residential colleges that award the B.A. degree, enroll full-time students between 18 and 24, enroll fewer than 2,500 students, and limit the number of majors to twenty in the arts and sciences. In contrast, Robert Morse, Eric Brooks, and Matt Mason, in “How U.S. News Calculated the 2018 Best Colleges Rankings,” U.S. News and World Report, September 11, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/how-us-news-calculated-the-rankings, define liberal arts colleges as colleges that focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education and award at least 50 percent of their degrees in arts and sciences.

2 Mark J. Brandt and Anna Katarina Spälti, “Norms and Explanations in Social and Political Psychology,” in Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim, eds. The Politics of Social Psychology (New York: Routledge, 2018).

3 Lydia Saad, “U.S. Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin,” Gallup News, January 3, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/poll/201152/conservative-liberal-gap-continues-narrow-tuesday.aspx; Charlotta Stern, “Does Political Ideology Hinder Insights on Gender and Labor Markets?” in Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim, eds. The Politics of Social Psychology (New York: Routledge, 2018); George Yancey, Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017).

4 Heterodox Academy. “The Problem.” Heterodoxacademy.org, https://heterodoxacademy.org/the-problem/

5 Thomas Aquinas College, “A Liberating Education.” https://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating- education/liberating-education”; St. John’s College, “Undergraduate Program,” https://www.sjc. edu/academic-programs/undergraduate; Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern, “Groupthink in Academia: Majoritarian Departmental Politics and the Professional Pyramid,” in Robert Maranto, Richard E. Redding, and Frederick M. Hess, eds., The Politically  Correct  University:  Problems,  Scope, and Reform (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 2009): 79–98.

6 Noah Carl, “Lackademia: Why Do Academics Lean Left?,” Briefing Paper. Adam Smith Institute, March 2, 2017, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56eddde762cd9413e151ac92/t/58b5a7cd03596ec6631d8b8 a/1488299985267/Left+Wing+Bias+Paper.pdf.

7 Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, and Neil Nevitte, “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty,” The Forum 3, no. 1 (2005), http://www.conservativecriminology.com/uploads/5/6/1/7/56173731/rothman_et_al.pdf.

8 Mitchell Langbert, Anthony J. Quain, and Daniel B. Klein, “Faculty Voter Registration in Economics, History, Journalism, Law, and Psychology,” Econ Journal Watch 13, no. 3 (September 2016): 422–51, https://econjwatch.org/articles/faculty-voter-registration-in-economics-history-journalism-communications- law-and-psychology.

9 Of the 2017 top sixty-six U.S. News-ranked liberal arts colleges, fourteen are located in states that do not release voter registration data.

10 Langbert et al., “Faculty Voter Registration.”

11 Jeffrey M. Jones, “GOP Maintains Edge in State Party Affiliation in 2016,” Gallup News, January 30, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/poll/203117/gop-maintains-edge-state-party-affiliation-2016.aspx.

12 Fabio Rojas, From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

13 Robert L. Winkler and William L. Hays, Statistics: Probability, Inference, and Decision, Second Edition (New York: Harcourt School, 1975).

14 Langbert et al., “Faculty Voter Registration.”

15 C.B. Spaulding and H.A. Turner, “Political Orientation and Field of Specialization among College Professors,” Sociology of Education 41:3 (1968), 247–62; Burton R. Clark, The Distinctive College: Antioch, Reed, and Swarthmore (London, UK: Routledge Publishers, 1992); Everett Carll Ladd Jr. and Seymour Martin Lipset, The Divided Academy: Professors and Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975).

16 Samuel J. Abrams, “There Are Conservative Professors. Just Not in These States,” New York Times, Sunday Review, July 1, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/opinion/sunday/there-are-conservative- professors-just-not-in-these-states.html.

17 Mancur Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984).

18 David A. Tandberg, “Politics, Interest Groups and State Funding of Public Higher Education,” Research in Higher Education 51: 416–50 (2010).

19 Chris Edwards, “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2010,” Policy Analysis 668, White Paper, September 30, 2010 (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2010), https://object.cato.org/pubs/pas/PA668. pdf; Fiscal Policy Report Card on Americas Governors 2016, October 5, 2016 (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2016), https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/edwards_report_card_on_govs_20161004. pdf; Jeffrey M. Jones, “GOP Maintains Edge in State Party Affiliation in 2016.”

 

Image Credit: Republican? Democrat? Undecided? by Eden, Janie and Jim from NYC // CC BY 2.0

 

 

Dr. Ralph Huff

| May 02, 2018 - 1:51 PM


George Bernard Shaw said it best: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

Richard Di Lorenzopattern88

| May 03, 2018 - 6:42 PM


The disparity is even greater than I had thought.  Even St Johns although not as extreme!

dlm

| May 04, 2018 - 7:36 AM


As a parent of 2 children in high school I am preparing to spend a significant amount of money on college education.  This article is disheartening as it quantifies how an unbalanced faculty effects education as a whole.  However, one question I have is this:  Has the ratio of democrats to republicans changed significantly over the past 25 plus years in these elite liberal arts schools?

Richard Di Lorenzo

| May 04, 2018 - 10:52 AM


Having obtained two Masters Degrees in that time frame I would put my money heavily on the “YES”  The system of tenure wherein faculty select their own Teaching Assistants and perpetuate their own biases is largely to blame I believe.  It is natural of course, to some extent, but having “diversity” of thought rather than only diversity of race is not a priority in Academia today.  My two children graduated from College in the 90’s and I spent a lot of “after tax” dollars as I made them aware.  I would put a cap on the amount I would spend and suggest they go to a good quality Jr. College for their prerequisites and then transfer to a University when they truly know what they want to do. There is no way I would spend the funds necessary today without having very mature children who understood that this was a huge investment and needed to be spent wisely.  Having them have a hand in how the limited money was spent would, I believe, make them think twice about their choices.

Zachary Bartsch

| May 04, 2018 - 11:28 AM


***Homogeneous***

M. E. Thomas

| May 04, 2018 - 3:21 PM


If you value your children and this country do not send your children to a liberal school. We must start Conservative Schools and Colleges and employ based on conservative values. Monitor the curriculum and tenure is a review process, not a guarantee of employment.

norb

| May 04, 2018 - 3:42 PM


Plato is quoted as saying that if you take money from Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul’s vote.
By in large, our Universities are run by people who never produced a Twinkie (or could), and must depend following idealistic journeys, that actual producers would laugh off.

With the government funding,and taxing bodies that still consider whats happening in universities as “education” , the so called educators, are nothing else but band of idealistic , incredible well paid group that has to obey the politically leftist thought ,or be out of a job, or worse, be shunned by the fellow members of the leftist tribe.

Brian Patrick Corcoran

| May 04, 2018 - 9:05 PM


Times have changed. In today´s economy, and likely for the indefinite future, a college education is of limited value. For graduates other than in the STEM disciplines the jobs will not be there so as to warrant the time and the investment required to acquire a degree. Better to set your children up in some kind of business at an early age. A two-year degree from a technical community college with imminently more affordable tuition costs will launch an intership into some very lucrative and stable professions that will serve them better in the long run. And this without being subject to the bovine excrement that attends your typical ¨liberal¨arts institute.

Scott

| May 05, 2018 - 7:59 PM


When one espouses diversity as its defining quality as the democratic political platform makes claim, the normal conclusion would be that this pursuit would seek to tear down any environment void of diversity and would never allow a non-diverse environment to stand any time any where. This study highlights that diversity of thought, intellectual pursuit and educational environment are exempt from the pursuit of diversity. Or, it requires the hypothesis to be tested whether the elite educators are as sadly pathetic as humans as those who hold differing thought and those they rightfully, in their mind, seek to exclude.

Zed

| May 06, 2018 - 1:27 AM


Does “Trinity” refer to Trinity College or Trinity University?

Rich

| May 06, 2018 - 6:25 PM


Your criteria for counting seems OK but why would you then do a test on the numbers to try and claim a finite count is really statistically zero.  You’re just torturing data at that point to disregard people that you’ve confirmed as registered Republicans.

Stick to real data, there’s plenty to discuss with everything else, minus that frankly ridiculous section.  Now of course there are tweets that 39% of top colleges don’t have any Republican faculty, which is demonstrably false in your study.

Richard Di Lorenzobuili

| May 06, 2018 - 7:54 PM


The import of the article is that their is an horrendous disparity of political views at the majority of Liberal Arts Colleges.  Once you get over 75% and more at least in today’s Academy,then the likelihood of excessive bias becomes a given. The specific numbers are not as important as the clear trend towards one-sidedness   It could well be that the disparity of left/right views has long been there, but the difference is that now the Professors are overtly pushing their views and denigrating the opposite. There seemed to be a general habit of bringing forth in a cogent way the views of the student rather than inculcating them with a predetermined formula.  In the not too distant past the bias if it existed was limited in most respects at least until it came to promoting Teaching Assistants.  I personally think it is tragic, as those whose views are never challenged are not intellectually pushed to question their preconceptions.

Rick

| May 06, 2018 - 9:07 PM


The numbers don’t matter if it matches your preconceived notion?  Is that what you mean?

The study is adequate if he jettisoned the section that is an inappropriate test anyway.  The numbers can speak for themselves without it.

Richard Di Lorenzo

| May 06, 2018 - 9:35 PM


Rick:  I agree with you.  The numbers can and do speak for themselves without pushing any envelopes.  That to my mind is the value of the article.  I am only saying that the severity of the problem exists even if the numbers were off by a good amount in either direction. They still paint a very bad picture for the direction of Liberal education.  Perhaps he called one too many “witnesses for the prosecution” and could and should have rested his case without having to do so.

Gary D.

| May 07, 2018 - 11:47 AM


One doesn’t need to wonder, then, why the major media, most of whose members obtained a degree in liberal arts journalism, are dominated by Democrats.

Tom davis

| May 07, 2018 - 12:41 PM


Guess they are all in Business schools?  Doesn’t that make sense??

Tom Davis

| May 07, 2018 - 12:45 PM


May I humbly suggests the next study be to fund how many liberals are teaching in business schools?

FW Craig

| May 08, 2018 - 1:35 PM


This is a piece of “hit science”, plain and simple.  The author sampled highly educated professors from schools whose very mission is to present its students with varying perspectives on the ways people,cultures and organizatations think.,  Not surprisingly the study found that there is a distinctly non- traditional (non-conservative) flavor to those professors politics?  Wow!  This is not an amazing insight that is being shared.

What is truly fascinating and is positively cause for optimistism to those who truly want our children exposed to many perspectives (not just one or two), is that the data suggests that the ratio of Democrat to ” “Something Else” is 5.5: 4.5.  Further the ratio of Dem to Non Registered Voter is 5.5 to 4.0.  These is a sizeable portions of faculty at these elite colleges who refuse to be characterized politically at all. 

Presenting the statistics in this way suggest that while the Democratic political leanings at liberal arts schools are undeniable, the current author’s suggestion that these schools are largely devoid of meaningful proportions of independent and various thinkers who can challenge Democratic ideology is FLAT WRONG. 

The take away from this study is that (remarkably) the students at many of these top elite LIBERAL ARTS institutions are taught by nearly as many “independent thinkers” (and their various points of view) as they are taught be Democratically registered instructors. 

Ignoring this truly interesting finding,  the author chooses to focus on the intellectually stale and lazy analysis of a reporting the ratio of registered R to Ds.  Then to further make his point that a horrible bias in must exist, the author does what the most biased researchers do when they need to confirm their own preconceived conclusions, they take out the data they dont like when it does not fit what you what they want it to say.  He decides that the inclusion of the military academies with the other schools reviewed is not right, and better to remove their influence as they are not reallyliberal arts institutions…. have you been to an academy and seen what they teach?  If you have you would know they are very much in the mold of traditional LA thinking.  Their inclusion shows the variety of LA approaches out there.

Further… as mentioned by a poster above…. lets do the same analysis but only look at the data when the breadth of schools focusing primarily on Engineering, computer science and business schools are reviewed.  There are plenty of excellent, elite UG schools to review of these sort.  Why were these schools omitted not treated to a separate review.  Its becuase the author wants to only present data that supports his thinking (and that of the funders of the the research) that elite colleges are cesspools on monolithic democratic orthadoxy.   

What we know about the STEM fields and Business programs is that they often require intensive and fairly focused exposure to their own areas of study.  For that reason, in many of these programs there may be little in the way of a traditional liberal arts/general education exposure and thus very little exposure to varieties of thought and opinion. 

Given this reality, its not surprising that in these particular schools one will find the highest proportion traditional/conservative sentiment among its students and their professors.  Further, is is not surprising that some of the most vexing problems for industries in this area are those that deal with issues of sexual and racial discrimination.  These problems are directly linked to a lack of understanding of other possible points of view and to the implicity assumptions that one way of thinking and behaving is always correct (Think traditional & masculine).  This is the very world view that can and should be challenged in a college environment which encourages independent thought if the goal is truly to educate children to live, work and compete in a global economy with complex issues.  I can tell you that the Sevice Academies work very hard in their efforts to support thinking that can understand our complex world and those in it from a variety of perspectives.  They also do not suffer students or faculty who are unwilling and openly resitant to acting and thinking in this way.  Perhaps the author should revisit his thoughts on the academies given this.  They are not what he thinks.

Finally, a question for the conservative readers of this website?  Why are none of the “independent thinkers” from NAS calling the author out for being funded by the Searle Freedom Foundation, and writing a report for NAS, and then claiming to be objective.    Heterodoxical thinking is not happening here.  The author is a hired gun in pretending to be a objective researcher. 

Do your own research everyone…its pretty damn clear.

Richard Di Lorenzo

| May 08, 2018 - 8:28 PM


I don’t know if you are active in higher education Craig, but I have obtained two Masters Degrees as I mentioned, one 24 years ago, and one 18 years ago.  I also paid for two College educations for my children in recent years.  I suggest you go and audit a few classes in the Liberal arts.  You may be surprised to find that your eyes and ears are sufficient to draw some conclusions that might be contrary to your comments above.  I am not saying that it is a crime for their to be a significant tilt in opinion in higher education, but I would say that it is a fact.  By the way, I lived in Berkeley for a period of time.  If you believe that the faculty there is somewhat evenly split in their political leanings I really don’t know what I could say.  Even in the late 90’s it was completely skewed to the left.  Again, no crime, but this is not derangement by the author.  His numbers may be wrong, and your arguments above have some merit, but the overall thrust of higher education is skewed too far in one direction for a healthy environment of debate and exchange in my experience.  Any parent who will spend the amount of money necessary for the education of their children/young adults in these Universities should know what they will be getting.  Many no doubt will be happy that things are as they are, but a good portion of the population no longer agrees that a structure too biased in one direction is healthy for all.

Joshua

| May 10, 2018 - 1:42 PM


The 39% number seems to have gained significant status as a meme. I’m finding it on tons of spurious news websites.

Moderate Leaning Right

| May 13, 2018 - 5:28 PM


I was denied tenure at an LAC, not one on your list, possibly because I often challenged the pervasive leftist mindset, so I was looking forward to the details of your study. Sadly, I have to be disappointed at your complete lack of understanding of elementary statistics.

For each college on your list, you’re running a t-test to determine whether the *proportion* of Republican faculty is statistically different from zero? For starters, a test of a proportions is Z (Normal), not T, with additional technically issues due to your small sample sizes and few number of successes in each sample. It sounds also like you’re doing a confidence interval (as you mention a MOE) rather than a significance test; those methods are not equivalent. But your most egregious and obvious error is that your sample data are not in any way random, thus you’ve violated the most fundamental assumption of the methods you’re using.

Was this a peer-reviewed article? I sure hope not.

William Baroo

| May 14, 2018 - 3:46 AM


this is laughable stuff.

let’s pretend that Soka University of America (42 faculty, ~430 undergraduates in one interdisciplinary program founded upon the teachings of Buddhism) and Bucknell (340 faculty, ~3700 undergraduates, 31 departments, active Greek Life societies) are the same!

also, find a statistician, and beg them to co-author with you if you want to continue in this area of research. The comment above on you torturing your data is an understatement. I consider this academic dishonesty. funny that you’re such an advocate of free markets, because seriously, you should really thank the concept of tenure right now.

Darrell Y. Hamamoto, PhD

| May 14, 2018 - 10:37 PM


I was run out of the University of California, Davis after 20+ years of service as a full professor.  Reason:  I had abandoned the “New Left” politics of my youth and challenged the indoctrination of heavily-medicated students into weaponized ideologues in support of centralized technocratic control for the benefit of global banking families.

John Locke

| May 16, 2018 - 12:14 PM


Face it, this just proves that smarter people are more likely to be Democrats.  The Republicans have long ago abandoned any pretense of intellectual rigor in favor of glorifying ignorance and bigotry.

David Bryant

| May 17, 2018 - 2:10 PM


The fact of registration as a member of a political party does not necessarily correlate with one’s ideological biases.

I used to live in Colorado. In order to vote in the Democrat primary there, one had to be registered as a Democrat at least 25 days before the election.

I had many conservative and libertarian-leaning friends who were registered Democrats. When I asked “Why?” they said, “I always vote for the weakest Democrat in August, expecting that he’ll lose in November.”

(Oh—a note to the moderator. The anti-spam wizard asked me to “enter the word you see in the image below.” I entered the only word that was present (“should”) and then learned that I hadn’t entered the correct character string—I was supposed to enter “should67”. But “should67” is not a word. It is a character string.

Please clean up your instructions. Ask people to “please enter the characters you see in the image below.”)

Victor Lee Miller

| May 21, 2018 - 11:24 AM


I would like to see this analysis for my alma mater Brigham Young University. Having gotten a liberal arts degree there in Political Science I expect the findings would be similar.

Dan

| May 21, 2018 - 2:09 PM


My sense is that if looked at policy-oriented think tanks and quasi-academic institutions, we would see a mirror image of this study. Who wouldn’t rather do that than drudge away in academia?

Joe

| May 27, 2018 - 5:54 PM


It hasn’t been a great mystery that professors are overwhelmingly Dems. Just look at the colleges these days. All you see is one point of view for every political view with zero tolerance for the other side. Working people like us out in the world usually work while listening to talk radio and seeing things from a Republican standpoint. I sometimes wonder if there is anything left Dems and Republicans have in common anymore.

Tomas Mailor

| August 15, 2018 - 8:45 AM


Undoubtedly agree with the author of the article. It’s easier to create anew than to remake the old one. This istrue for anything. For example, it’s easier to learn a new employee than to invite a specialist which needs to be retrained. Restructuring can take a lot of energy and in the end can not root and cause damages.Losses are always stress. Also interesting about the education system is the resource https://pro-papers.com/education-writing-service