23.11.04

SEEKING VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY IN THE UNIVERSITY. John Fund addresses the general principles.
Conservatives contend that assurances by liberals that the professional ethics of professors will keep them having their politics dominate the classroom and smothering alternative views just doesn't pass muster. A forthcoming study by Stanley Rothman of Smith College looked at a random sample of more than 1,600 undergraduate faculty members from 183 institutions of higher learning. He found that across all faculty departments, including business and engineering, academics were over five times as likely to be liberals as conservatives.

Mr. Rothman used statistical analysis to determine what factors explained how academics ended up working at elite universities. Marital status, sexual orientation and race didn't play a statistically significant role. Academic excellence, as measured by papers published and awards conferred, did. But the next best predictor was whether the professor was a liberal. To critics that argue his methodology is flawed, Mr. Rothman points out that he used the same research tools long used in courts by liberal faculty members to prove race and sex bias at universities. Liberals criticizing his methods may find themselves hoist by their own petard.
The reform Mr Fund seems to get behind might not work as well as he would like.
Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, argues that its time to scale back taxpayer subsidies to universities and move towards a voucher plan so that schools would have to compete for students as paying customers. That might also end the punishing double-digit tuition increases many schools have been imposing. Our colleges and universities would benefit not only from some intellectual diversity, but also some diversity and competition in how they pay their bills and how students and taxpayers hold them to account.
I think there's a move in that direction in Ohio, with the old in-state out-of state distinction replaced by a common rate for all students and a $1000 discount for residents disguised as a "scholarship." The double-digit tuition increases are not per se bad, and competition for students can take the form of amenities as well as discounted tuition or more challenging courses.

Turning to the specific, this David Adesnik post draws the reader's attention to hidden biases in a scholar's work.
In contrast to her (often justifiable) criticism of President Reagan, Shogan provides an extremely positive, almost glowing description of the academy. She writes that
The intellectual community is inherently critical of the status quo and often serves as the catalyst for social upheaval and development. (Page 8)
Sometimes asking academicians about leftist biases is like asking fish about water.

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