Friday, October 19, 2007

Universities Out of Touch: Another Example

By Richard Vedder

I should probably not write blogs 12 hours after beginning work, but I am mightily annoyed again, by another example of how universities are emphasizing things that do not resonate well with the American public, and for good reason.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities is run by the very capable Carol Geary Schneider, and is interested in liberal education, a topic on which we need thoughtful dialogue. Today I received an email from AAC&U saying they are renaming and strengthening a publication. The new Diversity & Democracy will "explore questions of race and gender, class and ethnicity, sexual identity and religious identity." Of the four publications of AAC&U, two are on race, class or gender matters. None are on the debate over core curriculum. None are on ways of enhancing efficiency and productivity in the teaching of the humanities.

AAC&U is doing what many colleges do these days --"celebrating diversity" -- as long as diversity is about race, class, gender and sexual orientation. Much attention is placed on whether restrooms are transgender friendly, or whether faculties have an optimal type of skin pigmentation or the proper balance of reproductive organs. Hardly anyone is clamoring for intellectual diversity, the free market in diverse ideas. Colleges are becoming increasingly racist, sexist, and intolerant of those who hold mainstream values. Nationwide, skepticism about the direction of affirmative action at the college level is growing, and voters in states as diverse as Washington and Michigan have put limits on university obsessions with diversity. Even if you believe, however, that affirmative action is an appropriate policy, should we be putting more attention on it than on issues that are of vital concern to the American public, such as the cost of higher education and how to contain its growth?

This leads me to ask, again and again, the question: why do we continue to provide public subsidies to institutions so far removed from the mainstream of our society, institutions that are arrogant and elitist? As the late Milton Friedman put it to me in an email a few years ago, perhaps the time has come to tax universities rather than subsidize them. It is time for them to get back to basics and stop trying to outdo one another on issues that are receding from the forefront of American life as the discrimination and abuse of certain groups that once plagued America dissipates in importance. I have a feeling if we got rid of every affirmative action official, multicultural affairs guru, and diversity coordinator at my university, the relations between groups of students would not change much --and we would save a few million dollars. However, universities live in there own little world, and will continue to do so as long as we write them checks to pay for their questionable idiosyncrasies.


sciencedoc said...

The author says:

"why do we continue to provide public subsidies to institutions so far removed from the mainstream of our society, institutions that are arrogant and elitist? As the late Milton Friedman put it to me in an email a few years ago, perhaps the time has come to tax universities rather than subsidize them."

Talk about being out of touch!

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

I wonder why Uncle Milton would suggest that universities should be treated the same as corporations and small businesses (if he really did)? Hmm...

Rich - I couldn't have written it or said it better. I think you hurt sciencedoc's feelings.

doc, you comment quite a bit on this blog site and oppose just about every blog without offering any substantive ideas of your own on college affordability and productivity.

When a liberal doesn't have any ideas, they try to tear apart the ideas or solutions others present - people who are trying to do some good. But liberals never put forth ideas of their own. If your sole purpose is to constantly post obtuse and argumentative comments intended to marginalize CCAP, you need to put the bong down and start coming up with some ideas, or SOMETHING of substance that might be socially redeeming rather than your incessent barnyard fertilizer. It's getting old.

Carol Geary Schneider said...

Dear Richard—

Thanks for the personal compliment and for your continuing interest in AAC&U’s work. By express mail, we’re sending you a copy of our recent report, College Learning for the New Global Century, which outlines, among many other things, changes that need to be made in the core curriculum from school through college so that Americans will be much better prepared for global challenges, including, of course, the challenges of navigating multiple cultural communities and value frameworks.

When you and I spoke last year, this work was still in press. Since then, some 300,000 readers have downloaded it from our website. Clearly it struck a chord.

We’re also sending you another recent AAC&U publication, Purposeful Pathways: Helping Students Achieve Key Learning Outcomes which reports on practices from high school through college to advance four selected liberal education outcomes: inquiry, civic, global, and integrative learning.

And finally, we’re sending you a few representative copies of our flagship journal, Liberal Education (which we have published since 1916) and Peer Review (a more recently launched publication that covers major trends in undergraduate education). We are sending you some recent issues that address specific aspects of undergraduate learning like quantitative literacy, entrepreneurship, undergraduate research, innovation, technology, and academic freedom.

All our work, of course, is carried out in a context of a continuing commitment to educating students who will graduate both prepared and inspired to ensure the success of a diverse democracy.

With very best wishes—

Carol Geary Schneider

TC said...

This is a joke - right? I mean she had to have read the whole blog.

Maybe not...