Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ten Steps To Increase Conservative Ideas On Campus

Diversity has been and remains the watchword on America’s college and university campuses for half-a-century.  In practice, diversity means affirmative action to increase the number and percentage of women and minorities among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and high-level administrators.

Progress has been substantial but uneven.  U.S. Department of Education data show that degrees awarded to women in 2017, at all tertiary levels from Associates to Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral, outnumbered those awarded to men by a ratio of 141/100 (58.5% female).  Women earned 62.1% of Associates, 56.7% of Bachelors, 58.3% of Masters, and 52.2% of Doctoral degrees.  Men remain a majority in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Turning from gender to minorities, there has also been substantial progress in all tertiary levels.  Here are the percentages of enrolled students by race and ethnicity.

                                                               1980      2014
White:                                                     84           57
Black:                                                       5            13
Hispanic:                                                  2              8
Asian:                                                       2             7
Other (mixed, undefined):                         6           16

Black enrollment now matches the Black percentage of the U.S. population.  Chinese enrollment now slightly exceeds its U.S. percentage.   The most notable change is that Non-Hispanic White enrollment has declined by 25% among all students, putting it below Whites who constitute 62% percent of the U.S. population.

Progress has been much slower for women and minorities among faculty and high-level administrators.  One reason is that it has taken time to create a pipeline of doctoral women and minority students to move in and up the ladder of faculty and administrative ranks.  Universities are exerting great effort to recruit women and minority faculty and elevate them to high-level administrative posts.

Diversity is still largely defined in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity, with LBGTQ added to the mix.

DIVERSITY OF IDEAS

This brings us to diversity of ideas, ideology, politics, or intellectual diversity in general.  University faculty is overwhelmingly liberal/Democrat in political orientation, as high as 90 percent in top-ranked schools.  There is growing concern among some educators, commentators, and politicians that universities no longer provide students with a diversity of ideas, as evidenced in violent student protests against conservative speakers on campus.

As noted in a previous post, Stanford’s former Provost John Etchemendy (2000-17) has described the monolithic political culture at Stanford (and other universities) as the “enemy within.”  The following excerpts [shorted for brevity] are from his remarks to the Board of Trustees in February 2017.

"But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within.  Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines [emphasis added]; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.
"This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration.
"It will not be easy to resist this current. As an institution, we are continually pressed by faculty and students to take political stands, and any failure to do so is perceived as a lack of courage. But at universities today, the easiest thing to do is to succumb to that pressure.  What requires real courage is to resist it
"The university is not a megaphone to amplify this or that political view, and when it does it violates a core mission. Universities must remain open forums for contentious debate, and they cannot do so while officially espousing one side of that debate.
"But we must do more. We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve [emphasis added].  It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds with, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.
"I fear that the next few years will be difficult to navigate….The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one’s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not. It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow.  (Stanford’s motto is Die Luft der Freiheit weht (The wind of freedom blows.)"
On June 30, 2000, nearly installed President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy issued a statement on diversity, which Hennessy read at a Faculty Senate meeting.

The key points in the statement are reproduced below.  To show how this statement can be used to increase diversity of ideas, I have struck out the words “women and minority (ies),” replacing them with “conservative(s).”

For many years Stanford University has had a commitment to enhancing the diversity of its faculty. This commitment is based, first and foremost, on the belief that a more diverse faculty enhances the breadth, depth, and quality of our research and teaching by increasing the variety of experiences, perspectives, and scholarly interests among the faculty. A diverse faculty also provides a variety of role models and mentors for our increasingly diverse student population, which helps us to attract, retain and graduate such populations more successfully.

“The President and Provost wish to emphasize Stanford's continuing interest in and commitment to increasing the diversity of our faculty and to providing access to equal opportunities to all faculty independent of gender, race, or ethnicity political ideas. More specifically, we assert our commitment to the following steps, some of which reaffirm existing university policies, and others that extend those policies:

“1. Faculty searches are obligated to make extra efforts to seek out qualified women and minority conservative candidates and to evaluate such candidates. It is the obligation of the search committee to demonstrate that a search has made a determined effort to locate and consider women and minority conservative candidates….Department chairs and deans have the responsibility to make sure that these obligations have been fulfilled.

“2. We will make use of incentive funds and incremental faculty billets to encourage the appointment of candidates who would diversify our faculty, such as women and minorities conservatives in fields where they continue to be underrepresented….[we] hope to accelerate this process by encouraging departments and schools to take advantage of opportunities to appoint additional equally qualified candidates from underrepresented groups conservatives who are identified during searches but who (for reasons such as their area of specialization) may not be the first choice of the search committee.

“3. The Provost has established an Advisory Committee on the Status of Women Faculty Conservatives and is in the process of forming an Advisory Committee on Faculty Diversity Conservatives.  These committees will work with the Provost and his staff to explore ways in which we can foster the goals of diversity of gender, racial and ethnic ideas.

“4. We will continue to monitor and report on the representation of women and minorities conservatives on the faculty, as well as their tenure and promotion rates, on a yearly basis to the Faculty Senate.

“5. We will support and mentor all junior faculty conservatives, and we will continue to use a review process for tenure and promotion that is based on a candidate's contributions to research and teaching and that is appropriate for the candidate's area of scholarly interest.

“6. We will continue to evaluate faculty salaries, with special emphasis on women and minority conservatives faculty salaries, through an objective methodology (the so-called quintile analysis). Any inequities in salaries for women or men, minorities or non-minorities conservatives will be sought out and corrected.

“7. We will also monitor the distribution of University resources that support individual faculty research programs, including both research funds and space, to ensure that the distribution of the University's resources is not based on improper factors (such as gender, race, or ethnicity conservatives). Any such inequities discovered will be corrected.

“8. We seek to increase the representation of women and minority faculty conservatives in leadership positions in departments, schools, and the University administration.  Such criteria will also form a part of the yearly review of all faculty leaders.

“9. Attracting and retaining the best faculty members in an increasingly diverse society requires us to have a university that is supportive of faculty diversity, both in the composition of the faculty and in their scholarship. Stanford University seeks and promotes an academic environment for each faculty member that is collegial, intellectually stimulating, and respectful of his or her contributions and accomplishments. Such an environment should enable the highest quality scholarship and teaching, and provide every faculty member a voice in department decision-making.

“10. Realizing that small pool sizes and pipeline problems continue to affect the availability of talented women and minority conservative faculty candidates in many fields, Stanford will continue a strong effort to seek out and support graduate students who bring diversity to our university. As an institution, we will encourage women and minority conservative students to pursue academic careers.

We call upon all our colleagues to engage actively in this important effort.

See how easy that was.  An eleventh step would be to lunch a monthly president/provost sponsored conservative speaker program on campus.

WILL STANFORD’S NEW PRESIDENT AND OTHER HIGH-LEVEL UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS SUPPORT CONSERVATIVE IDEAS ON CAMPUS?


We’ll see.  He will state that Stanford subscribes to the principle of academic freedom, the free and open exchange of ideas. Time will tell if conservatives and conservative ideas are increasingly a reality at Stanford and other colleges and universities.  I will be delighted should they come to pass.  I’m from Missouri, the “show me” state.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Reading List For Stanford’s Class Of 2021

(This post caps off a four-part series on the entering college and university classes of 2021.)

On July 16, 2017, Stanford News published a story on Stanford’s Summer Reading List for its entering class of 2021.  The following are excerpts from the story, written by Taylor Kubota, shortened (without changing the content or context of the story) for readability.

Stanford’s Three Books program prompts students to think about sustainability and equity
Earth systems Professor Noah Diffenbaugh aims to engage first-year students in challenging discussions with his Three Books selections centered on sustainability and equity.
Following 13 years of tradition, Stanford’s incoming, first-year students have received a special package for the summer: three books, carefully curated by a Stanford faculty member. Their assignment is to read all three prior to New Student Orientation, which will include a panel discussion with the authors.
The Three Books this year are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)
 “In my research, I’m interested in understanding what it is about the physical climate – heat waves, drought, floods – that most impacts people and ecosystems,” Diffenbaugh said. “Once you begin to examine the relationship between people and the environment, it becomes clear that the big global challenges for this generation lie at the intersection of sustainability and equity – the two are inextricably linked.”
Diffenbaugh selected the books Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, BA ’11; The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert; and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, BA ’99, MA ’00, a former Stegner Fellow in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program.
Engaging in difficult discussions
At the heart of Diffenbaugh’s decisions regarding this year’s Three Books is the desire to encourage students to think deeply and thoughtfully about challenging issues that lack clear-cut solutions. Diffenbaugh also believes the ability to work through these complicated topics will benefit students far beyond their academics.
“There are larger-scale discussions going on now, not just on campus, but nationally and internationally, and one of my goals is that our students are able to engage with those in a constructive way,” he said. “These books deal with highly charged topics where there’s no obvious solution. So, how do we have a reasoned discussion that leaves space for free speech and the free flow of ideas, where people can disagree and allow their views to evolve as a result of the dialogue? That’s an ongoing challenge, and this is an opportunity to wrestle with that experience right at the outset of college.”
Tied together
Beyond the fact that each book addresses difficult, timely issues, they are also unified by this year’s theme. Together, this collection shows how the realities of sustainability and equity can seem to exist in parallel but are, at their roots, intertwined.
Homegoing and The Sixth Extinction run in parallel, with Homegoing examining the history of how people have treated each other, and The Sixth Extinction examining the history of how people have treated the rest of life on Earth,” Diffenbaugh explained. “Salvage the Bones really brings those two together and examines the ways in which environmental vulnerability is shaped by poverty and access to both material and nonmaterial resources. It also speaks to the power of human resilience, even in the face of extreme environmental conditions and extreme inequality.”
A panel featuring all three authors, moderated by Diffenbaugh, will take place at Memorial Auditorium during New Student Orientation. This panel will be simulcast at the Pigott Theater for pre-major advisors and interested staff or faculty. Students participating in online discussions on Stanford Canvas can submit topics and questions for the panel.
In August, Stanford faculty and administrators chosen by Diffenbaugh will be hosting “Three Book Chats” on Canvas for students to get a preview of academic life at Stanford.
Descriptions of the 2017 Three Books program selections:
·       Homegoing is a novel that follows the lineage of two half-sisters born in different villages in Ghana and their descendants through eight generations. It details the troubling history of slavery on both sides of the Atlantic and the lasting impacts it had on those who were taken and those who were not.
·       The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History lays out the five mass extinctions that have occurred on Earth and makes a case, through science and narrative that the sixth is now underway, caused by human activity. This was the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction.
·       Salvage the Bones takes place in the 12 days immediately surrounding Hurricane Katrina, which Ward experienced firsthand. Its subjects are the Batistes, a family of five who, in advance of the storm, are already facing poverty, death of a parent, alcoholism and teenage pregnancy. This book won the 2011 National Book Award for fiction.
Comment On The Three Books
Professor Diffenbaugh is a highly regarded expert in his field of earth systems, environment and energy.  But that does not make him an expert on Africa and poverty, subjects of two of the books.
A true progressive might charge Professor Diffenbaugh with cultural appropriation, or worse, a White privileged member of the Western patriarchy condescending to select a book on persons with African roots.  An African or African-American Studies professor, preferable female, should be selecting a book on two half-sisters in Ghana and their descendants.  Similarly, a professor who has experienced poverty, or death of a parent, or alcoholism, or teenage pregnancy, yet surmounted one or more of these obstacles to achieve academic success, should be selecting a book on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on poverty stricken families.
The third book lies squarely in Professor Diffenbaugh’s ambit, but is biased in favor of the global warming side of the debate.  In fairness, he should also have selected a book that disagrees with man-made global warming so students could read and discuss both points of view.

Perhaps Stanford’s new provost, Persis Drell, in keeping with her remarks to the Faculty Senate on April 27, 2017, will advise next year’s faculty member entrusted with selecting the Summer Reading List to include a diversity of viewpoints.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lyrics For The College And University Classes Of 2021

In a previous post, your friendly proprietor alerted you to dozens of words that can be hurled at you if you dare to think for yourself and reject the progressive narrative.

You probably think some of the people charging you with intellectual crimes are hypocrites.  For example, flying on a private jet to a conference on global warming, or denouncing inequality while earning $300,000 a year as a tenured professor at an elite university.

To help you resist the assault on thinking for yourself, I suggest you memorize the lyrics of “Games People Play” that Joe South released in late 1968, almost a half-century ago.  South won the Grammy Award for “Song of the Year” and “Best Contemporary Song.”

The first three stanzas will keep you sane as you endure the psychobabble that calls itself progressive.

But, if you are really clever, you will learn how to use the progressive vocabulary to your advantage.  If you master its terminology and keep a straight face, you can run for high political office and enrich yourself while promising to help the have-nots.

Games People Play (Joe South)

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they're covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da da
Talking 'bout you and me
And the games people play

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Welcome to Stanford’s Class of 2021

Professor John Etchemendy, who served as provost for over 16 years (2000-2017), in a departing speech before the Stanford Board of Trustees, outlined challenges higher education is facing in the coming years. Following is an excerpt from that talk, with comments inserted by your friendly proprietor.


But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. (Comment:  I cannot recall or find a single public remark or email to the faculty, staff, and students of Stanford in which Provost Etchemendy expressed concern during his 16 years as provost over the threat from within.  Perhaps he only realized this problem after stepping down.)  Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; (Comment:  In my 16 years as provost, Stanford’s Academic Council tenured and tenure-track faculty has grown from 1368 to 1659.  During those years, several hundred members of the faculty retired.  This means we made about 500 new appointments.  I can’t recall how many of these have conservative credentials, but there must be a few.  Some Stanford departments do not have a single registered Republican.  I’ve searched my email files but I can’t find those in which I instructed our 7 school deans and dozens of department chairs to include highly qualified conservative candidates in their searches, nor can they find their email replies to me assuring this was the case); in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.
(Comment:  In the 2016 presidential election, over 90% of Stanford’s faculty voted for Hillary Clinton; only 5% for Donald Trump.  But our faculty never let their politics intrude on their teaching and research.)
This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. It will be more damaging because we won’t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.  (Comment:  Who was the Chief Academic Officer of Stanford University during the past 16 years?)
It will not be easy to resist this current. As an institution, we are continually pressed by faculty and students to take political stands, and any failure to do so is perceived as a lack of courage. But at universities today, the easiest thing to do is to succumb to that pressure. (Comment:  Stanford Board of Trustees voted to divest from coal companies during my tenure as provost.)  What requires real courage is to resist it. Yet when those making the demands can only imagine ignorance and stupidity on the other side, any resistance will be similarly impugned.
The university is not a megaphone to amplify this or that political view, and when it does it violates a core mission. Universities must remain open forums for contentious debate, and they cannot do so while officially espousing one side of that debate.
But we must do more. We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. (Comment:  No thanks to you.)  It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds with, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.
(Comment:  The Hoover Institution is the only unit on campus in which diversity of thought truly prevails and in which the monoculture of the left does not dominate.  Yet during your years as provost, you made it more difficult for Hoover to hire full-time Senior Fellows by removing their right to purchase a campus residence, sponsor foreign visitors, and serve as principal investigator in federally funded research.)
I fear that the next few years will be difficult to navigate. We need to resist the external threats to our mission, but in this, we have many friends outside the university willing and able to help. But to stem or dial back our academic parochialism, we are pretty much on our own. The first step is to remind our students and colleagues that those who hold views contrary to one’s own are rarely evil or stupid, and may know or understand things that we do not. It is only when we start with this assumption that rational discourse can begin, and that the winds of freedom can blow.
(Comment:  Hmmmm.  Wonder if new Provost Persis Drell will take actual steps to do something about the intellectual imbalance at Stanford, or just mouth the same platitudes as her predecessor Etchemendy—after he left office.)
At the Faculty Senate Meeting of April 27, 2017, here is a summary of Provost Drell’s remarks.
In reaffirming Stanford’s commitment to academic freedom, Provost Drell said that expression of the widest range of viewpoints of members of the faculty at Stanford is encouraged, free from any institutional orthodoxy and from internal or external coercion. She said individuals may express viewpoints that are critical of elected officials and national policies.
“The only thing legally forbidden is for the institution itself or the institution’s resources to be used in engaging in political activity in support of or opposition to a candidate for elective public office or other purely partisan activity,” she said.
Drell said Stanford has a long practice of not taking political or policy positions, unless they have a direct bearing on its ability to carry out its core missions of research and education.
“We believe the sharing and appreciation of diverse perspectives is vital to our community, therefore it is essential that the institution remain a neutral broker of ideas,” she said.
(Comment:  I am eager to see her instructions to Deans and Department Chairs that they include candidates with diverse perspectives in their searches.  Or that she re-instates former privileges that Etchemendy removed from full-time Hoover Senior Fellows.  I’m from Missouri, the “Show Me State.”)