dThe University Sickness Unto Death - Road to the Middle Class - by Christopher Chantrill
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After the Left University, What Then? Ballroom Dancing? At College?

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The University: Sickness Unto Death

by Christopher Chantrill
September 28, 2005 at 11:44 am

IT’S UNIVERSITY week as various opinion media trot out their annual state of the academy pieces. In James Piereson’s The Left University we saw a picture of the university drawn using the German historical method, penciling out the progress of the academy from teacher of absolutes to liberal research institution to the current left university that amounts to an establishment of secular religion.

On the other hand, Victor Davis Hanson shows the university as a corrupt institution approaching terminal sickness, or as we Kierkegaardians say, sickness unto death. You can tell there is something wrong by comparing the antics of today’s college presidents with the giants of the university’s golden age: men like “Woodrow Wilson (at Princeton), Robert Hutchens (at Chicago) or James Bryant Conant (at Harvard).” Today’s presidents are pigmies by comparison.

There’s the infamous trashing of Harvard President Summers by the Harvard faculty for daring to suggest informally that there might be innate differences between men and women.

There’s “Denice Denton, the newly appointed chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, heralded Mr. Summers’s public humiliation as a `teachable moment.’” Maybe there is a teachable moment also in discussing the shenanigans surrounding her appointment. Her partner got herself a six-figure job at the university and a move-in allowance in the deal. What’s all that about?

And what about University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman?

She recently resigned, ostensibly following athletic scandals, but more likely as a result of the uproar over Ward Churchill. We remember him now as the strange professor who compared the 3,000 murdered in the Twin Towers and Pentagon to "Little Eichmanns," supposed cogs in the military-industrial wheel who deserved their fate.

It turned out that everything about Churchill was a lie: his Native American ancestry and his academic achievements.

But none of these worthies hold a candle to new Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau of the University of California at Berkeley. On taking up his office

the chancellor complained that Berkeley has fewer Native American, Hispanic, and African-American students enrolled than it should--the campus was only 3% black, 9.5% Hispanic, and 0.4% Native American, in contrast with about 45% Asian-American and about 33% white.

The chancellor blames the underrepresentation of traditionally marginalized minorities on Proposition 209 that banned racial quotas in state government.

"I personally don’t believe that most of the people who voted for 209 intended this consequence."

Oh really. But it really doesn’t matter what the people intended, chancellor. As a famous United States Attorney General often used to say: “It’s the law.” Your job, as a government functionary, is to obey the law. For changing the law we have legislatures and elections, initiatives from the people, and all that stuff.

You wanna change the law? Run for election.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


 TAGS


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill