(Tribune Syndicate, Sept. 23) Raise your hand if you believe government has too little involvement in our lives. Put down your hands, members of the Obama administration.
During a previous political uprising in the 1980s, academic institutions managed to fend off conservative attacks on some of the subjects taught on their campuses — from “peace studies” to kinky sexual practices, to bad history — with cries of “academic freedom.” Where are those cries now that the federal government is on the verge of regulating the content of subject matter on college campuses and changing the way these institutions are accredited?
According to a Centennial Institute policy brief, a proposed new rule by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) “would place private colleges and universities under the ultimate control of state governments, rather than independent accrediting agencies. The notice of proposed rulemaking was posted in the Federal Register on June 18 for a public comment period ending Aug. 2. It could take effect as soon as November.”
Former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on July 30. In it, he warned of an “all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process and First Amendment rights.”
The American Council on Education, in a letter of its own, warned of “heavy compliance burdens” and “regulations that appear to overrule state law.”
Armstrong says the attempt by the government to regulate curricula “is part of an unprecedented power grab in which government has already moved to dominate such industries as automobiles, energy, health care, banking, home loans and student loans — and now seeks dominance over the colleges and universities themselves.”
Two Colorado Republican congressmen, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, have also sent letters to DOE in which they noted the proposed ruling would undermine “long-established independent accrediting agencies” (Lamborn) and potentially involve the government “in setting course requirements, quality measures, faculty qualifications and various mandates about how and what to teach.” (Coffman).
Imagine the outcry if someone identified with the tea party movement had made similar demands of a Republican administration concerning what is taught at Harvard or UC Berkeley. There would be protests in the quads and a lawsuit by the ACLU.
Conservatives have long believed that most universities are part of an “iron triangle” (along with big media and government) that keeps liberals and secularists in power. Controlling what is taught in schools, rather than encouraging true academic freedom, has been a successful strategy for shaping — some would say twisting — young minds and directing them in accordance with what statists and “living constitution” advocates believe.
If imposing outside agendas — from textbook content to course selection — is supposedly bad when conservatives do it (mostly in reaction to the liberal assault on any ideas that conflict with theirs), why is it not equally onerous when liberals push for state control and the dictation of course content at private colleges and universities?
It’s going to take more than one college president and two congressmen writing a letter to the secretary of education about this latest attempted government power grab. More members of Congress, other college presidents and newspaper editorialists must express opposition to this attack on the right of educators to teach what they believe to be essential courses that will result in a properly educated student who is fit for the real world.
This should not be confused with the liberal-secularist view of the world, which is what those behind this regulation apparently want to impose on students and their parents who, in many cases, are footing the bill and too often contributing to the destruction of young minds.
Monday, 20 September 2010 09:17 by Admin
Should private colleges and universities be subjected to adversarial oversight by politicians in 50 state capitals? That's the question posed by federal regulations set to take effect on Nov. 1, unless congressional objections slow down the timetable. Centennial Institute Policy Brief No. 2010-1, "No Political Oversight for Private Colleges," written by education expert Krista Kafer and released today, analyzes the proposal and concludes it is regulatory overreach, "unnecessary and unacceptable."
As Kafer explains in the introduction: "The Education Department is set to mandate more government control over a private-sector accreditation process that has served higher education well. To what purpose? The new regulations offer little benefit to these institutions, their students, or the taxpayers. Abuses by a few unethical, for-profit colleges do not justify a power grab against 6,000 nonprofit schools. If states politicize their authorization process, colleges may face the choice of compromising their mission or closing their doors. In a nation founded on the free exchange of ideas, that’s wrong. Policymakers should withdraw the proposed regulations."
"No Political Oversight for Private Colleges" is available here: Centennial Policy Brief No. 2010-1.pdf (80.58 kb)
Here is the proposed regulation as published in the Federal Register, June 18 2010.
(CCU Press Release, Aug. 2) Leaders in higher education are voicing concern over a proposed new rule from the US Department of Education, which would place private colleges and universities under the ultimate control of state governments instead of independent accrediting agencies.
The notice of proposed rulemaking was posted in the Federal Register on June 18 for a public comment period ending August 2. It could take effect as soon as November.
Accreditation, the gateway to academic and financial viability for all colleges and universities, whether tax-supported or not, would made conditional upon state regulation and authorization for the first time ever.
By specifying that such regulation be “substantive” and that “adverse action” be part of the authorization process, the pending federal rule would plunge private higher education into the maelstrom of ideological agendas and interest-group politics in 50 state capitals.
Former US Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, warned in a July 30 letter to the US Department of Education that this could mean the all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process, and First Amendment rights.
The American Council on Education, in a joint letter on behalf of its membership filed today, cautioned about “heavy compliance burdens” and “regulations that appear to overrule state law,” along with “inconsistent and ambiguous language that… will start a cycle of regulatory logrolling.”
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities sent an email urging presidents of its member institutions to comment on the “very troubling” proposed regulations before today’s midnight deadline – a time limit that Armstrong had asked federal officials to extend by 60 to 90 days in his letter last week.
“In the big picture,” said Armstrong today, “this is part of an unprecedented power grab in which government has already moved to dominate such industries as automobiles, energy, health care, banking, home loans, and student loans – and now seeks dominance over the colleges and universities themselves.
“Those harmed the most, if it goes through,” he added, “will be millions of young students seeking a college degree on campuses where intellectual diversity and open inquiry can flourish without government intrusion. This must be stopped.”
The proposed federal rulemaking is Docket ID-2010-OPE-0004.
Available to comment on the issue are Paul Corts at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, 202.546.8713, and Tony Pals at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, 202.739.0474, as well as CCU President Bill Armstrong at 303.963.3350.
The text of Armstrong’s open letter from July 30, 2010, is below.
COLORADO CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
July 30, 2010
Ms. Jessica FinkelU.S. Department of Education1990 K Street, NWRoom 8031Washington, DC 20006-8502
Re: Notice of proposed rulemaking published in Federal Register, 6/18/2010
Dear Ms. Finkel –
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on rules proposed by the Department of Education in its notice which was published in the Federal Register on June 18, 2010. On behalf of Colorado Christian University, I submit the following comments and recommendations:
1. The proposal entails sweeping revision in the process of accreditation for the nation’s colleges and universities, changes which will fundamentally alter a process which has served the nation well for many decades. The proposed rules are complex and, in present form, are unclear as to their application and ultimate effect.
Unfortunately, only about six weeks have been allowed for the preparation and presentation of comments. Under the circumstances, and in view of the significant regulatory burden entailed in the proposals, I recommend an extension of the comment period for 60 or 90 days to give institutions and interested individuals adequate time to consider and respond to the proposals.
I realize, of course, that Department policy-makers and representatives of higher education have been discussing these matters for some time. But it is likely that most of the institutions and individuals who are directly affected are, even now, only dimly aware of the pending rules. A brief extension could do no harm and might well elicit many additional, useful comments. The need for additional input is underscored by the inability of the Department to reach agreement during the Negotiated Rulemaking process.
2. The proposal will be understood as a vote of “no confidence” in the nation’s regional accrediting agencies, a most unfortunate result. These agencies may have shortcomings, but they are entitled to great respect, deference and commendation for their long history of safeguarding academic freedom and high standards for the nation’s colleges and universities. Undermining the authority of regional accrediting peer review process will make matters worse rather than better.
3. The proposed rules will subject both public (government owned and operated) colleges and universities and private schools to “substantive” regulation by state government. Moreover, the rules require that state “authorization” include provision for “adverse action” which, presumably, means individual states will have to establish guidelines, standards and requirements against which institutions are to be judged.
Many states may exercise restraint in doing so. But, inevitably, some state legislatures or agencies will get deeply involved in setting course requirements, quality measures, faculty qualifications and various mandates about how and what to teach, an outcome which will seriously compromise the cherished tradition of independence which is an invaluable component of America’s system of Higher Education.
4. Among reasons to avoid this outcome:
• Colorado, and other states, preclude such regulation through constitutional provisions affording a significant degree of independence for state schools based, presumably, on the belief that the mission of such institutions will be compromised by political oversight.
• “Substantive” regulation of private schools by state government is particularly worrisome, raises questions of academic freedom, due process and First Amendment rights. Moreover, the potential regulatory burden and cost of compliance will be a serious problem for small, private institutions.
Therefore, if the Department adopts this proposal, it would be appropriate to exempt smaller schools for which the new rules will be an undue burden.
• “Substantive” regulation by agencies of state government may result in politicization of higher education. Various “interests” will be tempted to pressure state regulators to require that institutions adopt (or repudiate) certain curricula, teaching methods and policies
Proposed rules almost guarantee that states will have to cope with noisy arguments over teaching methods, degree requirements and culture wars over textbooks, evolution versus Intelligent Design, phonics versus whole language, campus ROTC, climate change, family policy, abortion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
Obviously, institutions already face such controversies. But the proposed rules weaken the crucial existing presumption in favor of each institution’s academic freedom, a right defended by regional accrediting agencies. By adding an explicitly political step to the accrediting process – “substantive” regulation by state governments – the proposed rule puts institutional autonomy at risk.
[It should be noted, in passing, that this autonomy is not primarily for the benefit of colleges and universities, rather for their students and the larger community which the nation’s colleges and universities serve.]
• “Substantive” regulation by state government will impose a duty for which many states are unwilling and unprepared to assume, an unfunded mandate which will add stress to already strained state budgets.
5. I am advised (by persons who have discussed the proposed rule with representatives of the Department) that the state “authorization” requirement is intended to apply only with respect to the state in which an institution is chartered, its main place of business or headquarters location. If this is the case, it would be extremely helpful to add clarifying language to preclude an interpretation requiring an “authorization” from every state in which a college or university has a physical presence, recruits students, conducts online classes or fund raising. A multi-state requirement would be catastrophic for small colleges and universities.
6. Repeal of the compensation safe harbor rule could have unexpected and seriously adverse consequences. Most colleges and universities do not pay enrollment personnel any kind of spiff, bonus or commission for “success in securing enrollments.” But it is fanciful to suppose that consideration of success in securing enrollments should be entirely ignored in the decision to hire and retain persons whose primary job is precisely to secure such enrollments. Is it possible to obtain clarifying language?
7. Repeal of the safe harbor related to “Compensation to third parties for recruitment activities” would appear to put such third parties at risk of extinction. Although our university does not employ such third parties, we see no reason why outsourcing recruitment activities to reputable third parties should not be permitted.
8. The Repayment Rate and Debt to Earnings requirement appears to be unduly onerous and unrealistic.
In the time available, it has been impossible for me to fully digest and consider the proposed rule. These comments are, therefore, preliminary in nature and necessarily incomplete. If time permitted, it would be desirable to submit additional detail and comments about sections of the proposal not addressed herein. In other words, this is the best I can do on short notice.
Which brings me back to my original recommendation …
Please extend the time for comments by 60 or 90 days to afford all interested persons an opportunity to study and respond to the proposal.
Sincerely, William L. Armstrong President
('76 Contributor) Father Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., is well aware of me and my personal conservative activism on the Regis University campus. When the university’s president arrived at my table, where my family and I were seated, at the Family Weekend breakfast in September, he looked down at me, shook my hand and joke, “So, what evil are you up to today, Jimmy?”
With many campus presidents, that might be a signal of the kiss of death. But at Regis, that’s not the case at all. In fact, this humorous greeting was playfully done with a smile on Father Sheeran’s face, demonstrating the humor and lack of sincerity in the question. I cannot say for certain where he stands politically, but I do know where his institution lies when it comes to academic freedom: 100% behind it.
I recently watched the film Indoctrinate U, an excellent, insightful documentary about the extreme left-wing, liberal bias on college campuses in America. The film explores the common practice amongst universities and colleges across the country—the so-called “safe-havens” of academic freedom—to shun or disadvantage expressions of conservative views on campus. This includes professors, students, faculty and staff.
Wikipedia defines academic freedom as “the belief that the freedom of inquiry by students…is essential to the mission of the academy, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts…without being targeted for repression, job loss or imprisonment.”
While there is, as most students seem to agree, a decidedly liberal slant amongst Regis faculty (a tendency for universities throughout the country), when it comes to student expression of views, Regis deserves a great deal of praise and credit for standing true to this doctrine and following through with the principles therein. In doing so, they permit various views on political and religious issues to be expressed, including conservative perspectives, which are often discriminated against on the college campus.
I would like to cite my own personal experiences in my first two years here to underscore this, specifically my position on Regis’s Highlander student newspaper, the weekly radio talkshow I host (“Seng Center”) and my status as President of the Regis College Republicans.
First, with regard to the Highlander, I take pride in helping preside over a paper that welcomes the views of all students, regardless of ideology or viewpoint, to join the staff or submit letters to the editor. If you’ve been reading the paper and have noticed my consistent array of conservative-leaning articles over the last year, rest assured that this is not because I have brought some “right-wing bias” to the Highlander. It is because I choose most frequently to publish perspectives pieces, just as others have their favored sections.
Anyone can do it, and I strongly encourage more students and faculty alike to take advantage of the chance to submit articles of their own on virtually any issue, political or otherwise, when the paper reboots next semester.
But the critical point with the Highlander is this: Oftentimes, many conservative students are passed over from publishing political opinion pieces on an edition-by-edition basis due to their ideological standpoint; moreover, I have heard stories about quiet discrimination against conservatives in leadership positions at other colleges, or about students’ difficulty in distributing papers on campus, even though the publication follows the rules (such as a recent Auraria campus case).
Not only have I not encountered any problems with expressing my views on issues here at Regis—no one else has, either. At least, not since I’ve been here. This goes for all political persuasions—liberal, conservative and otherwise.
Then there’s my weekly radio show, Seng Center. Anyone who walks outside on the Quad between the hours of 6 and 8 on Thursday nights can’t without hearing, for better or worse, my loud voice blaring across the Quad, talking about politics from a clearly conservative perspective, with such guests as Republican U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff.
Moreover, it is the only radio show of its kind on Regis’s KRCX radio station (and in Colorado, to my knowledge), and it streams online as well. Thus, it indirectly but indiscretely represents Regis.
Easily I could be censored, as happens on many colleges, to present a certain “preferred image.” I could be denied the program because of some sense for an arbitrary need for greater “balance” (a sort-of “fairness doctrine” on campus) or restricted on what topics I can talk about, who I can bring on to the show, etc.
But I’m not. As long as the things I say and do on the program are appropriate—or, shall we say, “Father Sheeran Approved”—everything’s a-okay, lest activities director Dave Law sick Chuck Norris on me. (God have mercy on my soul if that happens!)
Besides, just like with the Highlander, every student has an equal opportunity to share their views on subjects ranging from religion to politics to anything else. When a single complaint came in about my show, I was readily defended by the powers-that-be for that very reason—just as I should have been, under the principles of academic freedom.
College Republicans on campuses across the nation consistently face discrimination, and many have to jump through hoops for representation at club fairs, access to rooms on campus and other considerations.
Here at Regis, not only do the College Republicans feel confident in their ability as a club to freely carry out activities and host events—like the one first semester with radio talkshow host Mike Rosen and this semester with ex-jihadist Dr. Tawfik Hamid—but we are given the utmost support and assistance by student activities, RUSGA and the college at large. Every time help is needed or a question requires an answer, we got it with no problems or hesitations. Regrettably, many Republican clubs don’t get that.
When I talk to most reasonable-minded people about this, they rightly reply, “Well, of course. Why shouldn’t Regis allow students to speak their mind, irrespective of their ideology?”
I can’t disagree with the implications of that statement at all; every college campus should be open to such ideas. But when you talk to conservative and Republican students at many other colleges in America, and when you talk to conservative college graduates (who think of CU’s leftist ex-professor Ward Churchill), it really does matter a good deal.
To them, Regis is a diamond in the rough—and that’s exactly why I think the university deserves much credit for truly standing behind the idea of “academic freedom.”
No matter what your political or religious persuasion, you’re welcome here at Regis. And even more importantly, you’re welcome to express those views however you wish, so long as you do so respectfully and with the kind of analytical thought prescribed by a Jesuit education.
So the next time a certain Jesuit priest asks what evil you’re up to, just reply, “No evil, Father. I’m just exercising my academic freedom.” And for that, Regis is, to its credit, ahead of the pack.
"Best Practices in Teaching Western Civilization" was the topic for an all-day workshop hosted at Colorado Christian University by the Centennial Institute on April 16. Over 30 educators from across the state, representing five colleges and three high schools, took part. President Bill Armstrong summoned the gathering to build on CCU's new curriculum requirement for every freshman to take Western Civ as a cornerstone for subsequent courses in whatever major the student eventually chooses. In keynoting the day, Armstrong challenged participants to work against the "intellectual Alzheimer's" that threatens our heritage of liberty. Someone remarked that the militant multicultural assault on traditional curriculum in the 1980s, led by Jesse Jackson at Stanford and other prestige universities, needs to have its slogan turned around so as to demand, "Ho ho, hey hey, Western Civ has got to stay."
Program materials for the April 16 workshop are here... western civ colloquium 041610.doc (55.50 kb) Some photos are below.
From afar: Centennial's John Andrews welcomes Mohd Rozi Ismail (L), a Malaysian graduate student at Colorado State University, and Florian Hild (R), an American citizen born in Germany who is now headmaster of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins
"Making It Work in the 21st Century" was the topic for Prof. Timothy Fuller, a political scientist from Colorado College.
Prof. Vincent McGuire of the Center for Western Civilization at CU-Boulder led a discussion on collaboration at the college level and with high schools.
Dr. Philip Mitchell of the CCU History Department chaired a student focus group on experiences in last fall's Western Civ course.
Editor's Note: The annual Conference on World Affairs, hosted by CU-Boulder each spring since 1949, wrapped up last week with at least one conservative undergrad having a sour taste in her mouth from the liberal intolerance, intellectual bullying, and groupthink she encountered in place of the "civil discourse" CWA is supposed to foster. Erin Flynn filed the following report with one of her professors, Vincent McGuire (who is also a Centennial Fellow).
I've attended three CWA panels over the past two days and at the 2nd and 3rd I got to ask questions. So I'm at the third panel "Progressives Getting Their Groove Back" which I find to be very interesting since I think progressives are ruining America (that's just me though). But to the point, I get to ask the first question, and this is what I say (directed to the proud card-carrying socialist speaker):
"How can you defend and rationalize socialist government when our forefathers fought a bloody war to protect us from government and wrote a great document known as the Constitution of the United States to prevent socialism and progressivism?"
Though my wording was aggressive, my delivery was quite nervous-sounding, since I was in front of a couple hundred people in the Glenn Miller Ballroom. But before I could get any sort of answer, another speaker on that panel says "Wait, just wait a minute, are you some sort of plant? You keep coming to these and asking conservative questions so what's the deal?"
What followed was the panelists, moderator, and crowd ganging up on me. People in the crowd were yelling at me to "sit down" and "shut up" and the panel continued to insult my intelligence while simultaneously cutting me off. The socialist-loving speaker didn't even answer my question (and in his response decided to say that totalitarian governments haven't existed since Stalin fell. Apparently China and Cuba don't count).
I was really upset, but sat through the rest of it and listened to the all of the other questions. As soon as I got back to my computer, I sent Glenn Beck an email but I know that was just a whim. So what should I do, Professor? The CWA program states "it's conversation, where CWA promotes civil discourse, debate, disagreement, depth, discernment, and delight". I can easily disprove all of this alliteration. But I feel like even if I write to the CWA leader or some dean they'll just ignore me because really they don't care about me having any sort of voice, since I'm sure I would disagree with them politically too. All of the panels are recorded, so maybe that's a start.
It's so frustrating, and I'm sick of people hiding by saying they are about something reasonable when they are actually the opposite. Do you know of anyone reasonable I could talk to as a start? Or maybe 9News would care about intolerance on the Boulder campus?
By the way, the panelist who called me a conservative "plant" happens to be a student government officer who is paid in part by MY fees. I will definitely be going to all future panels featuring that individual. Maybe with a video camera too.
The author can be reached at Erin.Flynn@Colorado.EDU
('76 Editor) Student conservative leaders from three colleges told a Centennial Institute forum last night that they sense growing receptivity among their generation for a right-trending political mood of self-reliance and limited government.
Issue Monday, our regular monthly series resuming in 2010, packed a CCU Business School classroom with an audience ranging from teens to senior citizens. Also present were two congressional candidates and a recent CCU graduate who is running for State House.
I served as moderator for the 90-minute session (linked here as a podcast) where Sean Doherty, Jimmy Sengenberger, and Megan Brophy related their political experiences, quizzed each other about lessons learned, and took questions from the audience.
Brophy, the daughter of Colorado State Sen. Greg Brophy, said her College Republicans chapter wants to tap CCU's potential to "become the Hillsdale of the West." Sengenberger, a regular contributor on this blog, told how his weekly Internet radio show helps him warn fellow students that "politics affects everything you hope to do or be." Doherty, who started a constitutional-themed newspaper on his campus -- which administrators tagged "extremist" -- drew on his marketing studies to recommend a "listen to the customer" approach for political outreach.
Click for the "Seng Center" online talk show hosted by Jimmy Sengenberger. Click for the Constitutional Reporter paper edited by Sean Doherty.
From right: Sean Doherty of Metropolitan State College, Jimmy Sengenberger of Regis College, Megan Brophy of Colorado Christian University.
Last Sunday in the New York Times, Patricia Cohen discussed the liberal bias that exists in academia, especially among the social sciences. Specifically, Cohen considers a new explanation being put forth by social scientists Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse that suggests that the professor moniker carries similar pre-conceived notions, similar to how many think of the field of nursing or elementary teacher. The difference being, while most consider nursing and teaching to be feminine, the pursuit of professorship is inherently liberal. They term this phenomena “typecasting”, where because of certain “stereotypes” about professors, many would self-exclude themselves from the pursuit of advanced degrees in certain fields. So, just as many consider nursing to be a “women’s profession,” Gross and Fosse conclude that many consider academia to be a liberal’s profession.
What the authors describe may in fact reflect the attitude of many young people. What needs to be emphasized, however, is that the attitudes of young people about academia are true. They reflect a self fulfilling prophesy created by those who dominate the academy. In other words, we associate professors in the academy with liberalism because they are!!
My personal experience, while only anecdotal, is telling of the field of political science. Pursuit of an advanced degree in political science requires one to select a sub-field of specialization. In the past 50 years, a new subfield has been added to the list of options which once included American government, international relations and political theory. This new subfield is public policy.
The purpose of scholarship in this area is based on the idea that if crafters of public policy would approach their task in a more scientific and professional manner, government will be far more effective at solving problems. Of course, there is no argument that greater professionalism is a good thing.
The problem is the underlying premise behind this sub-field: government (especially the federal government) is the primary means of problem solving. The very existence of the subfield is based on the belief that societal problems demand a federal government solution. Any initiation of a conservative viewpoint (favoring private initiative, state and local governments and only as a last resort, the federal government), is largely ignored if not completely dismissed by most scholars in the field. By definition and design, the field of public policy is a liberal one in that it assumes that government is the essential actor in solving problems.
Gross and Fosse suggest that a liberal is drawn toward academia and the professorial life in the social sciences. What they are failing to give enough credit to is the fact that those who dictate admission and progression in the field have eliminated the conservative perspective.
One point of agreement: in the closing paragraph, Mr. Gross is quoted: “The irony is that the more conservatives complain about academia’s liberalism, the more likely it’s going to remain a bastion of liberalism.” The academy was not always dominated by liberals nor does it always need to be. While it is certainly not any easy proposition, conservatives must find ways to enter and engage the academic world. There is no chance of change happening overnight. Over time, it is possible for conservatives to slowly whittle away and begin the process of shifting the ideological direction.
Three of Colorado Christian University’s Strategic Objectives speak directly to this mission:
• Impact our culture in support of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, Biblical view of human nature, limited government, personal freedom, free markets, natural law, original intent of the Constitution and Western civilization;
• Be seekers of truth;
• Debunk "spent ideas" and those who traffic in them;
Conservative Christians must take up this cause.
New Year, New Day, New Time: Centennial Institute moves its monthly issue forum to a more convenient day and time. Join us for Issue Monday * January 25 * 7:00pm * CCU in Lakewood * School of Business 102. CONSERVATIVES ON CAMPUS 2010 A Student Panel from Three Colleges * Jimmy Sengenberger, Regis University* Sean Doherty, Metropolitan State College* Megan Brophy, Colorado Christian University Sengenberger does an Internet radio show on his campus. Doherty started a student newspaper on his. Brophy organized a College Republicans chapter on hers. Many on those and other campuses are doing likewise. Come and hear the untold story - learn how you can help. Are campus attitudes changing after a year of Obama?How can right-minded students make a difference, even when outnumbered?How can off-campus supporters do their part?Why should students make time for political involvement? No charge, all are welcome, but reservations are requiredRSVP with name & number in your party to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303.963.3424
There is a consensus that the desperate plight of higher education finances in Colorado calls not for tinkering around the edges but a radical re-examination of basic premises. The traditional solution of “Give Them More Money” is simply not an option given the perilous condition of the state and national economy. One proposal under consideration is the creation of more three-year bachelor’s programs as a means of achieving significant savings for students, parents, colleges, and taxpayers. Before opining on the virtues of this idea it would useful to reflect on where the notion of a “four year degree” came from and also what usages are found in other nations. In 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony established Harvard as America’s first college they naturally looked to Oxford and Cambridge as models, and at that time both institutions viewed four years as a general norm for acquiring a bachelor’s degree. So, Harvard followed suit as did William and Mary (1696), Yale (1702), and subsequently virtually every American institution offering a Bachelor’s Degree. Then in the 17th century the British Parliament- experiencing a “budget gap” – directed Oxford and Cambridge to redesign their bachelor’s programs so that they could be successfully delivered in three years instead of four. Despite some protests they complied and created a highly credible three year bachelor’s program that has served their nation very well ever since. On this latter point I can offer some personal testimony. Following my “four year American degree”,I was a graduate student at Oxford, and the University of London. Any illusion I had that my “extra year” gave me an edge quickly proved unfounded. My relative deficiencies in speaking and writing the Queen’s English and my comparatively shallow store of general knowledge proved conclusively that while I had a longer undergraduate education, my English peers usually had better ones; Ever since I have found the important issue of educational quantity vs. quality to be riveting. Had the United States at least held the line at four years the current financial crisis would not be quite so dire, however as recently reported by Newsweek magazine, the average time of completion for a bachelor’s degree has ballooned to an astounding six years and seven months. For an in-state student at the University of Colorado spending $20,000 annually the difference between four and six and a half years amounts to around $50,000 not to mention the many thousands more that the state must pay in additional higher education subsidies. So, what explains this dramatic expansion of completion time. The reasons are as varied as the students themselves but those most frequently cited are unavailability of required courses, fewer students taking a demanding course load each year, and the attractiveness of the non-academic aspects of college life. The main reason is that higher education authorities allowed it to happen because it greatly increased their revenues and opportunities for discretionary spending. Many years ago a President of Oberlin College- Frederick Jackson Starr- in a much noted speech to college administrators stated that compelling reasons of equity and economics required that U.S. institutions should emulate the rest of the English speaking world and many other countries by making a quality three year bachelor’s program widely available. His peers generally viewed this as heresy and the criticism that descended upon Starr was immense. Similar voices subsequently fell silent. There is no question that the much feared revenue reductions entailed by three year programs could be matched by proportional reductions in expenditures presuming capable management prepared to make decisive choices. Clearly a three year degree is not for most students- for some four years remains a stretch- but simple equity demands that an approach that has long been a successful norm in other countries should at the very least be an option at all institutions offering the bachelor’s program. Today when spiraling higher education costs are breaking the financial backs of many middle class families, and slamming the door outright on countless poor and minority students the existence of a three year option could be the difference in getting or not getting that degree which is an increasingly vital passport to a better 21st century future.
Centennial Fellow William Moloney was Colorado Education Commissioner from 1997 to 2007. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, and the Washington Post.