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Shaky Chairs for Conservative Professors

Hayward.jpgOur friend Steven Hayward, definitive biographer of Ronald Reagan, among other things, has been offered a three year position at the University of Colorado (Boulder), one of the famous hubs of academic progressivism. Someone in Colorado (probably at a foundation) probably got tired of complaining about the political sameness of teaching at Boulder and offered the university a funded position for an avowed conservative. A competition yielded Hayward.

This has led to some hand-wringing on the left, of course. But also some second thoughts on the right. Minding the Campus site has assembled several voices to offer commentary.

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Harvard has political philosopher Harvey Mansfield and both it and he have survived. A few universities have whole departments that mostly reflect strains of conservatism (e.g., the economics department at the government-funded George Mason University in Virginia). There are colleges that are mostly conservative, of course. But only a handful. The sciences were the last bastions of objectivity, but they now are some of the worst PC offenders.

Before the radical left's takeover of academia in the 60s and 70s, university departments felt obliged, as a matter of academic prestige, if not respectability, to hire professors with different points of view. Not any more. The opposite is more the case. The reigning dogma now is that only shades of progressivism could be considered acceptable. A conservative view is like a powdered wig, an object of curiosity at best.

So, to give voice to an alternative world view, do wealthy conservatives have to fund chairs, even at public universities? Maybe so. In any event, more power to Steve Hayward and congratulations to his lucky students.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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