How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Peter Wood

  • Event
  • September 04, 2008

Our website technology includes a handy behind-the-scenes counter that tells us the number of “unique visitors” we have each day and other morsels such as how many are repeat visitors and how much bandwidth they use. Since we launched the newly refurbished site in March, we’ve had over 95,000 unique visitors. And we’re happy about that. 

But we’ve also noticed that as the return-to-school season arrived, our number of daily visitors jumped up.  This means we have new readers who missed the incisive analysis and mordant hilarity of our earlier postings. 

Before the leaves turn sere and the calendar pages flip by, we thought we’d provide readers with a handy guide to the highlights of our first season. We hope new readers will make some enjoyable discoveries and returning readers will recognize old favorites. 



Freedom Bound: The AAUP Presidential Election

03/19/08 By Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne

NAS’s interviews with AAUP presidential nominees Cary Nelson and Tom Guild show that “academic freedom” is an antagonym: it has two opposite meanings. NAS hopes to see the AAUP return to its original definition of academic freedom.


Nobody Watching

03/20/08 By Peter Wood

As administrators begin to outnumber faculty, with the creation of such positions as Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Multicultural Life, NAS is keeping tabs on the trend. We also extend an invitation to volunteers to be eyes for us on American campuses.


Breaching the Walls of Academe: The Purposes, Problems, and Prospects of Military History (Preview from Academic Questions)

03/24/08 By John A. Lynn II

Military history as a subject generally summons us to imagine lessons "learned from the past," phrased in abstract universals; or the entertainment value of the History Channel. But perhaps there is a third arena encompassed by military history, one that now stands besieged and vulnerable. This article was a preview from the NAS journal Academic Questions, vol. 21, no. 1, which focuses on the military and liberal education. The article is also available online at


Vietnam: Historians at War (Preview from Academic Questions)
03/24/08 By Mark Moyar
Has reasoned study of the Vietnam War been trampled by radical adherence to the politically correct? In this preview article from Academic Questions (vol. 21, no. 1), Mark Moyar confronts the War's orthodox antiwar historians. The article is also available online at


Is NAS Conservative?
03/27/08 By Peter Wood
People for the American Way asserts that NAS is a "right-wing" organization. We take issue with this characterization and explain why. 



Know It Alls
04/01/08 By Ashley Thorne
An invitation to an NAS online symposium on “Wikipedia and Higher Education.” At the core of higher education is the humility of recognizing: we don’t know everything. We have, therefore, no choice but to rely on the intellectual authority of others. In so doing, we seek (and occasionally find) the truth. 


By No Means: Michigan Judge Turns Tables on Advocacy Groups Determined to Derail Civil Rights Initiative

04/07/08 By Terry Pell

Terry Pell gives the first public analysis of the recent court decision ending (for now) the legal challenges to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.


Quack! Quack!

04/07/08 By Peter Wood

An NAS member aims to defend the integrity of science, which is being undermined by a focus on "Integrative Medicine."


Help Yourself: How the Helping Professions Hurt Dissenters

04/11/08 By Ashley Thorne

When it comes to schools of social work, open inquiry is under severe pressure, and the actual limits of inquiry have shrunk so far as to exclude many legitimate ideas. But social work may not be an isolated case.


Getting at the Core

04/14/08 By Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne

The University System of Georgia proposes two new core curriculums: “Framing Worldviews in a Global Environment,” and “From Self to Global Society.”

Buck Up
04/15/08 By Eric Roseman
Eric Roseman argues that Wikipedia deserves more skepticism from academia than it has received so far. He concludes, “The site is a great toy but a laughable reference tool, and citing Wikipedia passes the buck way down, not up.” 


Always Watching: The Argus Project


The Argus project is a call for volunteers to be NAS’s eyes on campuses across the country. The project is named for the creature in Greek mythology whose body was covered with eyes. Like Argus, who always had his eyes open, the NAS needs to have a steady, open-eyed watch on colleges around the country. To do that, we asked volunteers to essentially be our eyes on different campuses. Our hope was to attract thoughtful, attentive people reporting on what they’ve witnessed to be our lookouts over academe. Since NAS launched the Argus project, sixty volunteers have stepped up to help hold the university accountable.


Austrians in Vegas
04/16/08 By Peter Wood
Executive Director Peter Wood attends an APEE (Association of Private Enterprise Education) conference in Las Vegas. 


Stick ‘Em Up!

04/16/08 By Ted Blanchard

NAS's newest member brings our attention to a legislative shootout between two education bills in California.


The Problem With Wikipedia

04/21/08 By Mark Herring

Mark Herring argues that Wikipedia is troubling in two main ways: it has lowered our threshold for flawed work, and it may also increase illiteracy while spoiling reading skills in the young. 


After the Manifestos: Building a New Reform Movement in Higher Education

04/22/08 By Peter Wood

At the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Scholars (an NAS affiliate), NAS Executive Director Peter Wood gave an overview of the various reform initiatives in higher education and proposed a way to gather many of them into a more broadly-based movement.


Update on Georgia Curriculum

04/22/08 By Ashley Thorne

A conversation with an academic advisor at the University of Georgia.


Miscarriage of Academic Freedom?

04/22/08 By Ashley Thorne

A Yale student’s senior project raises questions about higher education’s approach to art, and NAS asserts, “Academic freedom was never meant to excuse lies or to condone every act under the sun.”


Human Nature: NAS Attends an Environmental Justice Conference
05/02/08 By Ashley Thorne 
Ashley Thorne shares reflections on the "Race, Place, and Environmental Justice" conference held on campus at Princeton.  


UD Faculty, Students Stand Up Against Res Life Proposal


The University of Delaware Faculty Senate held debate over the proposed new residence life program, a repackaged version of what was formerly known as "the treatment."


A Head Full of Headphones: The Rise of iTunes U

05/06/08 By Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne

Apple’s iTunes U is another small step toward making the acquisition of knowledge painless, easy, and maybe fun.


Reports from the Academy: Social Work Agonistes (Preview from Academic Questions)

05/07/08 By David Stoesz

On CSWE and social work education's romance with identity politics. This is a version of an article that was published in the NAS journal Academic Questions, vol. 21, no. 2. The article is also available in a more finished form on


Igloo Building: A Primer on the Financial Aid Fiasco

05/07/08 By Peter Wood

Peter Wood provides a glimpse at the student loan crisis and its implications for the academic world.


Harder Core: UGA Nixes Regional Proposals; Opts for More Rigorous Curriculum

05/08/08 By Ashley Thorne

Rather than adopt proposals for a curriculum based on globalism and sustainability, the University of Georgia has made changes in favor of more academic rigor.


Georgia Halts Curricular Overhaul: University System Will Reconsider Protested Core Changes

05/14/08 By Ashley Thorne

After 400+ faculty and staff members signed a petition against USG's proposed core curriculum models, the University System of Georgia just announced that it will stop its push to revise the curriculum at 35 state colleges.


What Does ‘Sustainability’ Have to Do With Student Loans?

05/14/08 By Peter Wood

Students spend too much on too little as colleges buy in to flimsy trends like sustainability. Written for Minding the Campus.


The Shaggy Dog Story: Has Reading First Flopped?

05/14/08 By Ashley Thorne

After the Department of Education released a study indicating the failure of federal initiative Reading First, NAS seized the moment to ponder such programs' efficacy in teaching children to read.


Delaware’s Amateur Hour or For Whom the Gong Tolls

05/15/08 By Stephen Balch

A message from NAS President Steve Balch to American faculty about the residence life debacle at the University of Delaware.


Update on Bill Felkner: Rhode Island College Bias-Revelers Evacuate

05/16/08 By Ashley Thorne

Bill Felkner, a graduate social work student at Rhode Island College, was denied his diploma for holding views contrary to those prescribed by the School of Social Work. After he went public with the issues he dealt with at the College, most of the key faculty and staff members involved in his plight have resigned from their positions at RIC. To read the original story about Bill Felkner, see “The ‘I-Revel-in-My-Biases’ School of Social Work—And What It Does to a Student Who Declines to Join the Revelry


Misfire in Boulder

05/16/08 By Stephen Balch

After University of Colorado Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson unveiled plans for a chair in “Conservative Thought and Policy,” NAS reflected on this misconceived attempt to address the problem of intellectual pluralism in academe.


Oreos on the Higher-Ed-Way

05/19/08 By Peter Wood

A truck-driver sleeps and spills 14 tons of double-stuffed cookies. We think this is a reflective metaphor as American colleges drowsily serve up ultra-packed, sugary doses of fluffy education.



05/21/08 By Ashley Thorne

A blogger aims to subvert NASW and social work ideologues—but is his approach the right one?


The Sweet Lemon Effect: College Grads Doubt Value of College Degrees—Except Their Own

05/21/08 By Ashley Thorne

The American Council on Education released a survey showing that, although most people think that colleges in general charge unfair prices, most people also believe that their own alma mater charged them fairly. Whence the self-confidence?


More Than a Few Degrees Off
05/23/08 By Ashley Thorne
Reflecting on a spam email that offered, “We can assist with Diplomas from prestigious universities based on your present knowledge and LifeExperience. No required examination, tests, classes, books, or interviews,” we consider the value of a genuine diploma.  


Campus Speech Codes: Absurd, Tenacious, and Everywhere

05/23/08 By Greg Lukianoff

Greg Lukianoff, the President for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, drafted this article for and presented it at a conference on “Reforming the PC University” at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in November 2007. We are grateful to AEI for permission to publish this important essay, which appears on the NAS website for the first time in print.


Political Correctness in the Science Classroom

05/27/08 By Noretta Koertge

NAS was pleased to be the first to publish this essay by Noretta Koertge, Professor emeritus in History & Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. Koertge drafted this article for and presented it at a conference on “Reforming the PC University” at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in November 2007.


We’ll Be Watching

05/27/08 By Jan H. Blits and Linda S. Gottfredson

The University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees approved a new “enhanced Residence Life Education Program” at its annual May meeting. The Delaware Association of Scholars pledges to hold the new program to the standards it set out. As of Fall 2008, “we’ll be watching.”   


Stanley Fish for Conservative Chair

05/28/08 By Ashley Thorne

Perhaps Stanley Fish, who personifies two halves of the body of perspectives on academia, possesses that quality so spare in higher education: intellectual diversity.




Virtuoso Violinists Beware Texas

06/03/08 By Peter Wood and Adrianna Groth

Texas, in the quest for diversity, tries to balance affirmative action and the top ten percent rule in college admissions.


Wartime Thrift

06/04/08 By Ashley Thorne

An NAS review of The Enemies of Progress: The Dangers of Sustainability by Austin Williams.


Save It or Scrap It?

06/05/08 By Peter Wood and Adrianna Groth

Come the next presidency, what's to be done with No Child Left Behind?


Tap Dancers: Bottled Water and College Students

06/06/08 By Ashley Thorne

Sustainability's latest wave on campus: ban the bottle, drink tap. As water rights movements gain momentum, college students get on board.


Coercing the Conscience: New Examples of the Reign of Intolerance in Schools of Social Work

06/06/08 By Glenn Ricketts

We're seeing more of the scandal of social work iceberg. Two students' case have come to light, showing once again how social work programs disregard students' personal convictions.


A Real Page Turner: The Kindle

06/10/08 By Ashley Thorne

Amazon's electronic books-on-tablet device stirs literary embers at NAS.


Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

06/11/08 By Peter Wood

Our secret mission has been compromised.


Nervous Laughter

06/11/08 By Peter Wood and Adrianna Groth

A blog called “Stuff White People Like” explores the grown-up consequences of multiculturalist education.


If I Ran the Zoo

06/11/08 By Peter Wood

What would you do if you ran the university zoo? Inspired by Dr. Seuss’s fanciful book, NAS presents a series of opinions on the ideal portrait of the higher education menagerie. The first installment begins with an introduction by Peter Wood, explaining our invitation to friends and readers to write up their ideal portrait of how the university should be. Following the introduction are the first three opinions, from Adam Kissel, Herb London, and Thomas C. Reeves.

Our invitation to ponder the ideal higher education zoo prompted coverage on, as well as blogs such as FIRE’s The Torch, Critical Mass, and The Volokh Conspiracy.

On the NAS website, seventeen people wrote for the “If I Ran the Zoo” series. Some composed Seussian verse, some hoped for solemn reform, and some dreamed up extravagant ambitions. You’ll find all of the zoo contributions here:

Mike Adams

George Leef

Todd Zywicki

Anne Neal

Sylvia Wasson

Mark Bauerlein

Michael Kellman

John Leo

Roger Kimball

Harvey Silverglate

anotherpanacea (blogger name)

Ammon Allred

Erin O’Connor and Maurice Black


Business-as-Usual Bureaucrats Picnic with “I-Despise-America” Ideologues

06/17/08 By Glenn Ricketts and Peter Wood

How state social work boards responded to "The Scandal of Social Work Education."


Jailhouse Ed

06/20/08 By Peter Wood and Adrianna Groth

If prisoners can earn college degrees while incarcerated, can the liberal arts liberate? NAS considers the value of educating convicted criminals.


Hand It Over: Colleges Take Outside Scholarships for Granted

06/20/08 By Dean Chin

NAS member Dean Chin is posting a series on how top universities manipulate financial aid for their own benefit, instead of offering the most benefits to the student. Chin’s in-depth research on financial aid exposes the fine print that takes advantage of students’ earned outside scholarships.


Hand It Over II

Colleges collect on students’ summer jobs


Hand It Over III

Stop the spin: inside the financial aid numbers at Stanford


A Penny For Your Thoughts (APFYT)

06/20/08 By Adrianna Groth

Observations on the comment in the age of the blog.



Rational Animals?
06/24/08 By Ashley Thorne
Arctic bears aren’t the only heat-wave-endangered group. Scientists are getting scorched too—at least those scientists whose research involves experiments on animals.  


No Fire Escape for the Copyist

06/25/08 By Ashley Thorne

Columbia announced its decision to fire Madonna Constantine, a Teachers College professor who in October said she found a noose on her office doorknob.


Doll Sales and Moral Tales

06/26/08 By Adrianna Groth

The American Girl dolls play their small part in the struggle for social justice—but only after having healthy, historical fun.


Townhall Readers Respond to NAS Survey

06/30/08 By John Irving

We have preliminary results in from the Argus survey!


The Negative Influence of Education Schools on the K-12 Curriculum

06/30/08 By Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky drafted this article for and presented it at a conference on “Reforming the PC University” at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in November 2007. We are grateful to AEI for permission to publish this important essay, which appears here for the first time in print.



Never Bored

07/02/08 By Peter Wood

Our answer to a commenter who asked, “Does NAS have any initiatives or a must-read book list for ‘conservative student self-education?’ We challenge our readers to contribute to several different lists: Neglected Masterpieces, Worst Textbooks, and Most Overrated Authors.

Backstage Acting

07/07/08 By Ashley Thorne

NAS welcomes In Character, a journal about everyday virtues. In seeking to restore higher education to its "higher" quality, we must pursue the moral uplift of the university. This thoughtful journal takes steps toward that goal; by looking at virtue through the lens of public policy, the humanities, religion, and the sciences, In Character holds up the standard of integrity.


Rebuilding Campus Community: The Wrong Imperative

07/16/08 By Stephen Balch and Peter Wood

This NAS statement on residence life attracted media publicity from the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article entitled “Group Argues That Out-of-Class Learning Is Domain of Faculty, Not Student Affairs.” The NAS statement drew 22 comments and the Chronicle article drew about 100. “Rebuilding Campus Community” states NAS’s concerns that the new residence life movement undermines the intellectual mission of the university.


Gone, Daddy, Gone

07/17/08 By Adrianna Groth

College students get little encouragement to esteem the traditional family from the redefined-family curriculum and "hooking-up" dorm culture. Surely higher education would perform a more noble service by preparing students for the adult lives they will actually lead instead of trying to turn one and all into social revolutionaries. 


National Association of Scowlers

07/26/08 By Peter Wood
Introducing the other NAS: a disgruntled membership association of fist-shakers working to thwart new ideas and to sustain the tradition of grim solemnity and cranky curmudgeonhood in America’s colleges and universities. Membership now open.


Out of the Valley of the Shadow: The AALE Reprieved


07/27/08 By Stephen Balch

When liberal arts accreditor AALE survived a narrow scrape with organizational demise, NAS president Steve Balch drew some conclusions from AALE's trip to the brink and back.


Some Social Science That Fails to Score
07/28/08 By Stephen Balch
NAS president Steve Balch finds that a new study supposedly challenging prevalent assumptions about political correctness isn't all it's hyped up to be. 


The Diverse University: The Victory of the Adjective Over the Noun?

07/30/08 By Tom Martin

NAS member Tom Martin ponders, "What does it mean to be 'committed to a diverse university community'?"


“Big Argus” Meets the Playground Bullies

07/31/08 By Peter Wood
The July 30 Inside Higher Education article, which framed the Argus project as a Big Brother operation, set the dervishes of the Left in motion. NAS executive director Peter Wood takes time to separate spin from fact.



A Bill Becomes Law

08/04/08 By Stephen Balch and Peter Wood

NAS president Steve Balch and executive director Peter Wood tell about the American History for Freedom Program, a tiny gem in the massive newly-passed Higher Education Act.


Dizzy Diversity

08/07/08 By Ashley Thorne

NAS was honored to serialize the book Getting Under the Skin of “Diversity” by Larry Purdy, on our website. Purdy, one of the lawyers who represented Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, takes us inside an upside down house of racial preferences.


A Critic in Full: A Conversation with Tom Wolfe

08/11/08 By Carol Iannone

This article, an interview with Tom Wolfe, appeared in an issue of NAS's publication, Academic Questions (vol. 21, no. 2).


A Degree in Agitprop

08/11/08 By Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne

Prompted by one of our Argus volunteers, NAS looks into a degree program in social justice education at U Mass Amherst. There we find one of those fantasy studies we thought existed only in such realms as Miskatonic or Hogwarts.


Can Social Workers Be Competent?

08/14/08 By Peter Wood

Charles Murray asserts that the degree should be replaced by the CPA-like certification. NAS executive director Peter Wood comments on Murray's suggestion and indicates possible flaws in the scheme.


Olympic Ironies

08/15/08 By Ashley Thorne

Perhaps the Olympic spirit reflects good, instinctual, but stifled life principles - rejected especially by higher education. Why do we embrace them only during the Olympics?



08/20/08 By Ashley Thorne

Multicultural welcome receptions at California State University at Chico raise the question, "Do differences really define who we are?"


When I Squeeze You, You Make Noise!

08/22/08 By Peter Wood
NAS executive director Peter Wood considers the rationale behind Princeton's "25 Most Influential Alumni" list. Not to miss among the "Portraits of Influence" is the man who gave us the Rubber Ducky song.


 “Protect Our Freedoms” APSA Members Petition


Members of the American Political Science Association, which is scheduled to have its annual meeting in Toronto next year, have drafted a petition that consideration be given to relocating the meeting on the grounds that Canada has shown hostility to the freedom of speech.


Socialism for Sophomores

08/26/08 By Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has outdone itself in offering a descent into radical ideology pure and simple. Its Social Thought & Political Economy program reveals to us how easy it is to add a socialist mentality to a multiculturalist religion.


The Georgia Diversion: Faculty Aren’t Biased, Students Are, Says the Peach State. Really?

08/29/08 By Peter Wood

The University System of Georgia conducted a "Survey on Student Speech and Discussion," which has been heralded as proof that the U.S. doesn't have a problem with bias in the classroom. But we have our doubts. Clouding the results is a mistaken substitution of “tolerance” for freedom of speech.


Are Students Customers? Yes

08/29/08 By Ed Cutting

When one of our members, expressed his sentiment that students should be treated as customers, we decided to consider both sides of the argument on our website. Here, Ed Cutting presents his case for letting the market do the work. 


Are Students Customers? No

08/29/08 By Peter Wood

NAS Executive Director Peter Wood replies to Ed Cutting with an opposing view, that "the 'customer service' model of higher education is an illusory path to real academic reform."



She Do the Plagiarists in Many Voices: An Anthropologist’s New Rationale for Academic Dishonesty

09/02/08 By Peter Wood

It seems the Internet generation of students has a novel excuse for plagiarism: "I was exploring the ever-changing version of my self." In a world of Wikipedia, YouTube, Blogspot, and Second Life, can authorship be "fluid"?


Night Makes Right: Stanley Fish’s Candelabra of Truth

09/03/08 By Peter Wood

In his new book, Save the World on Your Own Time, Stanley Fish writes, "If you’re not in the pursuit-of-truth business, you should not be in the university." But what does he mean by "truth"?


Protecting the Prickly: La Raza Studies

09/04/08 By Ashley Thorne

NAS takes a look at La Raza studies, a public school program in Tucson, where the cactuses are plentiful and so is the bitterness.


How Many Delawares?

In the fall of 2007, NAS helped expose the University of Delaware’s attempt to enforce ideological conformity on campus through its residence life program, referred to by many on campus as “the treatment.” The aim of "the treatment" was to subject students to a prescribed set of beliefs and attitudes that the University characterized as necessary for good "citizenship." Among the prescribed beliefs were that all whites are inherently racist; that America is an oppressive society; and that helping to dismantle these structures of oppression is a personal duty. The NAS Delaware affiliate worked with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to document what was happening, and in November, UD president Patrick Harker suspended the program. It has since been reinstated.


In light of the scandal at the University of Delaware, the National Association of Scholars began an examination of residence-hall and student-life policies at colleges and universities around the country. Was Delaware an isolated case? We suspected not. There were numerous clues that what Delaware was doing is still happening in other institutions. We know, for example, that Delaware’s residence-hall policies have been held up as a model for officials at other institutions to emulate. We hired Tom Wood to pursue the research. Tom was one of the two original writers of California’s Proposition 209, the ballot measure that ended state-sponsored racial preferences in California in 1996. He also researched and co-authored the NAS report that exposed the numerous statistical and factual errors in the University of Michigan’s official document (the “Gurin report”) that purported to show the classroom benefits of diversity. Tom’s reports, backed by extensive investigative research, are posted on the NAS website as part of our series, “How Many Delawares?” A complete list of the HMD articles to date are provided below:

11/05/07          University of Delaware Residence Life Abuses Exposed

12/04/07          Infestation: Widespread or Not?

12/04/07          How Many Delawares?

12/07/07          Little Delawares All Over: Diversity Indoctrination, K-12 Branch

12/11/07          Psychotherapeutic Interventions, Transformative Learning, and the Dorms of U Delaware

12/28/07          Residence Life, the Shaha Troupe, and Social Justice Education at U Mass Amherst

01/22/08          No Escape at U Mass Amherst

01/30/08          Res Life and the Decline of Campus Community

02/20/08          Who Educates the Whole Person These Days? Anyone?

02/29/08          Inside the ACPA Conference

03/06/08          Ideology @ UCLA Dorms

03/27/08          The Marriage of Affirmative Action and Transformative Education

04/28/08          Just Say No to Racial Preferences

07/18/08          The Communitarian Res Life Movement

08/18/08          The Communitarian Res Life Movement: Part 2

08/21/08          The Communitarian Res Life Movement: Part 3

08/25/08          The Communitarian Res Life Movement: Part 4

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