Written on Friday, October 12, 2012 by David L. Goetsch
As a business consultant and retired professor of business, I know what happens to organizations that stray from their visions, missions, and core principles. I spent my academic career studying such organizations and I now spend my days helping failing organizations get back on track. Consequently, I can say with certainty that liberal universities in America—which means most universities—are sowing the seeds of their own destruction by straying from the vision, mission, and core principles of higher education.
Economist and college professor, Walter Williams, puts it this way: “Many of the nation’s colleges and universities have become cesspools of indoctrination, intolerance, academic dishonesty, and an ‘enlightened’ form of racism.” Admittedly these are strong words, but if anything they understate the current situation in American colleges and universities. Through this website I have come to know a graduate student, JKdriss. JK is a smart, articulate, informed conservative who chose that bastion of liberalism—social work—as his profession. He is majoring in social work, typically one of the most liberal academic departments in any university. This means that at work and in class, JK is a modern-day Daniel in the lion’s den. He occasionally shares the details of some of his epic battles with liberal professors who ridicule, threaten, browbeat, and try to intimidate him. Their treatment of this good man is more than just a crime. It is a blatant abuse of the very purpose of higher education, the kind of abuse I wrote about in my book, Liberal Tyranny in Higher Education (www.americanvision.com).
To understand how far colleges and universities have strayed from their visions, missions, and core principles, consider this quote from David Horowitz concerning the purpose of higher education: “The central purposes of a University are the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarship and research, the study and reasoned criticism of intellectual and cultural traditions, the teaching and general development of students to help them become creative individuals and productive citizens of a pluralistic democracy, and the transmission of knowledge and learning to a society at large. Free inquiry and free speech within the academic community are indispensable to the achievement of these goals.” The last line in this quote summarizes where universities have strayed. Free inquiry and free speech have been replaced by indoctrination, thought control, and the suppression of opinions that do not comport with liberal orthodoxy.
Can universities be saved? It will be a challenge because eventually people will wake up and refuse to continue paying the exorbitant costs of a college education that: 1) demands adherence to leftwing philosophies instead of teaching students to think independently and critically, 2) saddles students with lifelong debt in the form of student loans, and 3) moves them directly from the graduation ceremony into the unemployment line.
If asked to help turn a university that has strayed around, here is what I would recommend: 1) Hire, promote, and grant tenure to faculty members on the basis of competence and merit—not their adherence to liberal orthodoxy—and ensure a good mix of political, religious, and socio-cultural views on the faculty; 2) Grade students solely on the basis of merit—not on the basis of their political or religious views, 3) Expose students to a wide range of worldviews, encourage them to think critically, and reward them for arriving at their own conclusions through independent thinking—welcome dissenting opinions from all sides; 4) ensure that the teaching and learning environment is conducive to the civil exchange of ideas so that students and professors may disagree without being disagreeable, 5) allow differing points of view to be expressed with full assurance that they will be given a forum and accorded the respect they deserve. This is how things should be in American universities. Do I expect universities to take my advice? In a word, NO.