Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

How Oberlin Played the Race Card and Lost

Peter Wood

Oberlin's administrators miss the message sent by a $44 million verdict against the college. 

Episode #30: The Death of Common Sense with Philip Howard

Peter Wood

Regulations often have unintended consequences such as hurting the very people they are written to protect. I speak with Philip Howard about common sense regulatory reforms that save money and make bureaucracies work.

How Nine Universities Pander to Campus Radicals

Peter Wood

Peter gives the best examples of where and how university administrations are rolling over to campus radicals. 

Academy for Retribution

NAS

Peter W. Wood writes a letter to the President of Portland State University urging the institution to end its use of academic disciplinary procedures to harass Professor Boghossian. 

Curriculum Vitae: Episode #3

NAS

Peter W. Wood sits down with KC Johnson to unpack what happened to Title IX and what should be done to fix it.

NAS Sends Letter to SUNY Trustees

Peter Wood

Peter Wood and Rachelle Peterson ask the SUNY Board of Trustees to investigate the Confucius Institutes in their system.

How Middlebury College Enabled the Student Riot During Charles Murray's Visit

NAS

NAS President Peter Wood analyzes why Middlebury College allowed the student riot during Charles Murray's campus visit.

Middlebury Admissions Tells Alumni How to Talk About the Protest Over Charles Murray

Rachelle Peterson

A new document tries to guide conversations about Charles Murray's visit to campus. 

AAUP Meeting Unanimously Backs Melissa Click--But Why?

Peter Wood

In Minding the Campus, NAS president Peter Wood discusses authority on campus.

War, What Is It Good For? Sometimes, Absolutely Everything

Peter Wood

Wars have significantly contributed to our identity as a nation.

Napolitano Appointment in California: Everyone's Unhappy

Glenn Ricketts

Janet Napolitano takes the reins as UC president amid a storm of controversy.

Academic Scandal at WSSU

George Leef

Academic deceit under the guise of academic success.

Rutgers President Announces Plan to Inflate Diversity Bureaucracy

Ashley Thorne

Rutgers University has appointed a new Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and will create Vice Chancellors for Diversity and Inclusion on all campuses.

California Association of Scholars Responds to UC Regents

Charles Geshekter

The California Association of Scholars responds a second time to UC's Board of Regents.

California Scholars Confront Regents on UC Politicization

John Ellis

The California Association of Scholars, a division of NAS, challenges the Board of Regents to address political activism in the classroom at the University of California. 

California Association of Scholars: New Evidence of Politicization at UC

John M. Ellis

Although the University of California denied accusations of political activism earlier this year, CAS addresses the UC once more after recent events on campus.

Will College Officials Try to Stifle Competition?

George Leef

College officials will be tempted to maximize revenues for their schools by shutting out competition from online courses offered elsewhere.

Higher Education and the Perfect Data Storm

David Clemens

To understand what's really going on at our colleges and universities, we need to look beyond data, writes David Clemens.

Student Says Scrap Student Surveys

Glenn Ricketts

A student journalist states what should be obvious, but usually isn't.

What Hath Crow Wrought?

George Leef

A skeptical look at Arizona State president Michael Crow.

Two Styles of Academic Leadership

Abraham H. Miller

Academia is not an environment conducive to good leadership, as illustrated by two extreme leadership styles.

Diversity Will Cure Our Ills!

George Leef

To professors who dont' embrace diversity fervently enough.

The Coming Assault on Beadledom

Glenn Ricketts

The Ivory Tower is submerged in academic administrators.

Sustainability News

Ashley Thorne

Researchers determine that sustainability is now a science; Occupy Wall Street's sustainability committee plays house; Harvard looks to hire someone who can "cultivate an understanding of food"; and a debate asks whether the campus sustainability movement detracts from the better purposes of higher education.

"Diversity": Weighing the Cost

John Rosenberg

In spite of budget cutbacks and fiscal crises the annual expenditures for diversity programming in academe continues to be on the rise. As John Rosenberg tallies the cost, can you find the benefit?

Unanswered Questions: UW-Madison Students Protest CEO Report on Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Admissions

Roger Clegg

What really happened during the student protest against the findings of the Center for Equal Opportunity? NAS member W. Lee Hansen, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UW-Madison, documents what he observed on September 13 and offers a new assessment of the controversy.

Mobbing For Preferences

Peter Wood

Peter Wood discusses students' live-action defense of racial preferences at UW Madison.

Video: Ben Novak on Trusteeship and Shared Governance

Andy Nash

Former PSU trustee Dr. Ben Novak joins Andy Nash for an insightful look at the historical and current role of trustees in higher education.

Attack of the Administrator Zombies!

George Leef

Professor Robert Weissberg reviews The Fall of the Faculty, adding agonizing details to the author’s tale of woe. Both find that our rampant administrative bloat not only wastes great amounts of money, but also has a deleterious impact on what is taught and how.

Do College Administrators Misappropriate "Diversity"?

Peter Wood

A Johns Hopkins professor lays the entire blame for the rise of political correctness on power-driven campus administrators. But haven't faculty members played their part?

Ammons Retaliates Against Exonerated Law Professor

Ashley Thorne

Widener University law school dean has professor Lawrence Connell suspended and banned from campus - after a hearing committee exonerated him from charges of sexual and racial discrimination.

Jan Blits on Campus Liberty

Ashley Thorne

At a recent gathering of college students, Professor Jan Blits, NAS's Delaware affiliate head, urged students not to take liberty for granted.

Professor Decries Administrative Bloat

George Leef

The latest "Irascible Professor" piece is a guest column by Ralph Westfall, who teaches at Cal Poly Pomona. He decries the increasingly bloated administrative apparatus -- more and more administrators, often paid better than the teaching faculty.

Could the UNC System Do Without Diversity Offices?

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Duke Cheston looks at the numerous diversity offices throughout the UNC System. College campuses would still be highly diverse if we stopped trying to increase the percentages of students who have certain ancestries.

Theophobia

David Clemens

This morning I heard from a necessarily anonymous colleague who teaches at a necessarily anonymous college.  Her Dean had refused to sign off on a grant application because the granting foundation makes some “religious references” in its mission statement (“Judeo-Christian”).  Eek!  

Diversity, Texas Style

Glenn Ricketts

KC Johnson and Charlotte Allen provide some useful analysis of the Fifth Circuit's appeals level decision upholding the the race-based admissions policies of the University of Texas, Austin. 

Higher Education's Obesity Problem: Administrative Bloat

George Leef

In today's Pope Center Clarion Call, I write about the recent study released by the Goldwater Institute on administrative bloat in higher education. Almost everyone laments the increasing cost of going to college, but they usually ask next, "How can we help students afford it" when the question should be, "Are resources being spent wisely?" Is the profusion of new administrators (generally paid quite nicely to boot) doing much to better educate students? Or is it more the case that they're hired because non-profit institutions must spend all the revenue that comes in and the decision-makers are inclined to spend it in ways that makes life better for them? The Goldwater study introduces a "public choice" element into the analysis of higher education and that's welcome.

State of the Campus at UNC-Greensboro: Politically Correct Pandering

Ashley Thorne

Today NAS received a copy of this speech by UNC-Greensboro Chancellor Linda P. Brady.  The speech was given on August 18, 2010 as a "State of the Campus" address. Brady bows to politically correct idols in a fashion typical at today's colleges and universities: Diversity

  • The University has launched a search for a new Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion [Quite a title!]
  • Chancellor Brady is “especially proud of the hard work of faculty search and promotion and tenure committees, reflected in the growing number of women faculty and ethnic minority faculty in the junior ranks” [Are there gender and ethnicity quotas for faculty members?]
  • According to a report by The Education Trust, “On average, 56 percent of African American students at UNCG graduate in six years, compared with 51 percent of white students. To quote from the report, ‘Clearly, when colleges focus on student success, all students benefit greatly – particularly students of color.’” [Does UNCG have programs to help white students graduate too?]

Sustainability

  • Sustainability “remains a core value at UNCG” [A core value that competes with the real business of education]
  • “In 2009-10 UNCG appointed a full-time sustainability coordinator in facilities operations, initiated planning for implementation of a behavior-based energy conservation program...” [Sounds like an effort to change behavior through small, everyday changes – like getting rid of cafeteria trays and making dorm halls compete to use the least energy]

Learning Communities

  • The University aims to place all new undergraduate students in residential “learning communities.” [Is this similar to the University of Delaware’s 2007 mandatory residence life “citizenship” program – an Orwellian effort to change students’ “thoughts, values, beliefs, and actions”?]

 

5 Consequences of Administrative Bloat

Ashley Thorne

What happens to higher education when universities are dominated by administrators?

10 Commandments for Professors and Staff...No Comment

Ashley Thorne

"Hippocratic oaths" for higher education include "I will dare to know," "I will be open-minded," and "I will be transparent."

Dispatch from the Tenure Wars

David Clemens

Writing in the Wall Street Journal (June 18), Timothy Knowles, “a former teacher, principal and district leader” laments the difficulty of eliminating “low-performing teachers.”  Granted, there are abundant reasons for tenure reform at the K-12 level.  College, however, is a different matter. Marketing his new book, Cary Nelson, spear point of the AAUP, says

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, devout believer that you only have academic freedom and free speech if you have job security.  If you don’t have job security, you can’t speak out forcefully, and I think that means academic freedom will be diminished.

I rarely agree with Dr. Nelson, a fellow I find usually animated by left-wing, social constructivist, and Sixties sentiments, but in this case he is right. Mr. Knowles paints administrators as ex-teachers called to a higher mission.  However, in college, many administrators have little or no classroom experience, and Mr. Knowles seems oblivious to just how political, punitive, and self-serving careerist administrators can be (just look at how many of the cases at FIRE originate from administrative excesses).  Without tenure, my campus would have no discernible conservative voice at all.  I would have been fired by at least three different college presidents for a variety of transgressions:  organizing the faculty union, suing the college, publically criticizing multiculturalism, openly opposing “student learning outcomes.” Students can survive a poor teacher (how many great teachers are there?), but they can’t survive a university monoculture that is an ideological echo chamber.  Tenure may sometimes protect incompetent knaves but, where it still exists, tenure also protects vital intellectual pluralism.

Shimer Unmanned

Peter Wood

Shimer College lost its nerve in what was ultimately a battle over academic standards.

Breaking News: Shimer College Votes President Out

Ashley Thorne

After a long battle between the president and the faculty, alumni, and students, Shimer College's board has voted to remove President Tom Lindsay.

Administrators and Academic Freedom

Peter Wood

Anyone who is committed to the search for truth through rational inquiry and dispassionate and scrupulous use of evidence deserves the protection of academic freedom.

Faculty Member to Administrator Ratio Shrinking at U California

Ashley Thorne

From the blog Remaking the University is an interesting article with charts showing the decline in the ratio between ladder rank faculty and senior management staff at the University of California. The decline is happening across all UC campuses. 

Top Consideration: Not Education, But Money

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I write about an enlightening lawsuit involving a demoted dean's allegation that his school deliberately trashed its academic standards to help retain weak students. My argument is that colleges and universities have been doing this for decades, but have usually been subtle enough not to get caught (or sued, at least). The case also highlights the need to employ what economists call "Public Choice" theory -- i.e., the assumption that public officials will generally make decisions that are in their own interest rather than for "the public good"--when we think about the actions of college officials.

The "Diversity Religion" at Virginia Tech

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Carey Stronach, president of the Virginia Association of Scholars, explains why the crusade for "diversity" by the administration at Virginia Tech is unacceptable to scholars. Academic promotion should no more depend on "diversity accomplishments" than on "religious accomplishments" or "chess accomplishments" or "gardening accomplishments." If the administrators can't see that by "privileging" (to use a favorite leftist term) the diversity mindset over everything else they're undermining real academic work, they should be summarily dismissed.

What Really Matters in Higher Ed

Ashley Thorne

This week the Chronicle of Higher Education has a special section on “Diversity in Academe.” One article featured there, “Diversity Takes a Hit During Tough Times,” (subscription required) examines how the economic downturn has forced colleges to evaluate their priorities. Colleges are asking, “Is a large diversity program really necessary for our institution?” Richard Vedder, of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, doesn’t think so:

Richard K. Vedder, an economist at Ohio University who also directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says it has become "faddish" for universities to boast about their commitment to minority students by pointing to the size of their diversity offices. "The question is, at a university with 20,000 students, can you do the job with three to five people, or do you really need 25 to 35?" he asks. Mr. Vedder sees most diversity jobs as a bull-market luxury—and believes they should be scaled back, along with intercollegiate athletics, to protect core teaching and research operations during hard times. 

Nevertheless, universities are scrambling to salvage their diversity departments, however superfluous, and one professor says this is a time of testing: “The next few years will show whether a university's commitment to diversity is real or whether it's something that is done just for the rhetoric.”  Clearly this is the upside of the recession, giving colleges an opportunity to examine what’s really important in higher education – not race, identity groups, or political correctness brownie points, but simply, higher education. As the dean of St. Lawrence U puts it, “If you don't have the basic curriculum, and you don't have the faculty and you're not paying them, then all of the other programs in the world don't matter one bit.”

Freedom from Fear: Crime and the Diversity Hustle

Jonathan Bean

By now, most Americans have watched the newscast on the brutal killing of Chicago honors student Derrion Albert. FDR made "freedom from fear" one of his Four Freedoms. Many Chicago students flee to my rural university to secure "freedom from fear." They escape gang violence and the prospect of ending up in jail. They are the Derrion Alberts of the world--kids who want to start over. Alas, college administrators--in the name of "diversity"--promote gang magnet events such as our Player's Ball: a fraternity-sponsored event with "pimps," "hoes," and "bitches." Guilty white administrators cave to demands for "urban culture." After all, "it's a black thing." Diversity officials remain silent (privately, they do not approve but "what are we going to do?"). The same administrators ban credit card vendors on campus, squelch "hate speech" (a term never applied in this context) but will not lift a finger to "do the right thing." At the very least, campus officials could use their bully pulpit to criticize these events. One of my former students escaped his gang, became an honors student and attended the "Ball" in his second year. At the Ball, gang members searched him out and put a "hit" on his head for leaving them. Several of us found a way to relocate him but ultimately this student left for another university. That is not education, it is exodus. Since administrators and diversity deans do nothing, say nothing, hear nothing, I call them out: "Shame on you!" Derrion Albert could have been one of my students, if he lived to attend college. For the Derrions of the world, those of us who teach or lead need to speak up. R.I.P. Derrion Albert

1% for Propaganda

Ashley Thorne

College presidents ask the Senate to help support sustainability education.

Gothic Arch and Ghost Town

Peter Wood

Princeton's gracious campus expresses confidence in the life of the mind; UMass Amherst's Chancellor cries uncle; a New Jersey ghost town points its bony finger.

Clash of Symbols

Ashley Thorne

Elsa Murano, the first Latina president of Texas A&M University, has resigned. Some lament the loss of the institution's "symbol" of diversity.

Three Cheers for the Dons: Part 2

Tom Wood

Governance structures that take control of the university out of the hands of the faculty make it easier for

Three Cheers for the Dons: Part 1

Tom Wood

Would universities be better off if their governing bodies were controlled by their faculties? This three-part series investigates.

"The Only Work I Can Get Here Involves Diversity Programs"

Margaret Matthews

"There I was, just one person sitting there, but she was seeing a group." An administrator longs to escape the racial labeling that characterizes her department.

Suitable for Framing

Ashley Thorne

FIRE, student paper, CHE, and John K. Wilson weigh in on Virginia Tech diversity requirements for promotion and tenure.

Update on UW Fox Dean's Blog

Ashley Thorne

The votes are in! This is a story of a university administrator who wrongly assumed that his political posturing would be met with widespread approbation.

Vote on Administrator's Political Showcasing

Ashley Thorne

Should a campus dean use his university platform to advertise his politics? Vote now!

Send Me In, COACHE!

Peter Wood

Dreary and discontented faculty members won't keep us away from playing in the snow.

Holiday Conquest

Ashley Thorne

Lessons from the "educational" board game

What Does a Chief Diversity Officer Actually Do?

Peter Wood

Comments on Williams and Wade-Golden's prescriptions for the role of the "diversity messiah"

Misfire in Boulder

Steve Balch

A brief reflection on a misconceived attempt to address the problem of intellectual pluralism in academe.

Nobody Watching

Peter Wood

We've reached the tipping point in human resources where administrators now outnumber teaching faculty. Things have been sliding quietly in that direction, aided by the addition of new positions such as Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Multicultural Life. Although the trend has gone largely unbeknownst to the larger university community, NAS has been on task to end such disregard. To that end, we are organizing a core of academy watchers, who will penetrate the obscurity that veils such questionable practices. Keep the tipping point in mind as you hear of newly created positions at your institution, and please consider becoming one of those who will be "eyes" for us as the NAS tracks trends and events in higher education.