The Troubling Plight of the Modern University

Today’s campus is more reactionary than the objects of its frequent vituperation.
by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


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15 thoughts on “The Troubling Plight of the Modern University”

  1. Last year I signed up for blog notices, and received them for a while. I stopped receiving them about two months ago. I signed up again, and am receiving nothing.
    Could you please check and see if my name is still on your list?
    Thank you.
    Biene Vallée

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  2. Good article! And, good luck on the university system reforming itself anytime soon. I imagine the teachers and administrators as a lemming-like herd charging ever faster towards the edge of a cliff. Or, perhaps, as someone’s crazy old grandpa driving his Lotus or BMW towards said cliff. But as long as government keeps sending them boatloads of cash, nothing will change.

  3. Interesting, especially from a former professor. I agree that we are tending towards higher education privatization. Maybe that is the inevitable outcome, in which case there is little use in arguing morality, but I do wonder what your take is? Could a private education system support the kind of upward mobility opportunity we’ve been brought up to expect from our society? It seems to me it would only encourage the proverbial gap between rich and poor.

    So then if you need to subsidize education (or anything for that matter), how do you do it without promoting regression of the institution? From the student side, what percentage of applicants admitted give you the best societal benefit/cost? And then how do you rank those applicants? Most would agree by some sort of “scholastic aptitude”, but most I think feel today that our standardized test and other current tools are not well correlated to individuals abilities to contribute in the workforce.

  4. TheSanityInspector

    University administrators, when the finger of blame turns towards them, often plead the thicket of government regulations they have to comply with, as exculpation for their costly bureaucratic bloat. Fair point. So let’s also see about thinning out those regulations.

  5. Wow, I had to pinch myself, “Somebody is actually saying this….from the inside?” The body Politic, the Press, along with the University/College you write about form the only axis of evil I truly know.

  6. I agree with you with much of your analysis about US colleges. It’s a travesty when kids are graduating from college with debt and are unable to find a decent job just because they didn’t study computer science or another top 10 or 20 hot fields. Liberal arts educators should be under a lot of pressure to show the world that their education matters. Apparently employers don’t feel the same.

    There is however some exciting work being done with online education that will allow students to ‘do’ more during class time rather than just listen to lectures. Valuable project based work can be done with their teacher and they can listen to that lecture offline. MIT is a leader here. It’s not all bad….

  7. Excellent article. This has been an “elephant in the room” of life in modern America for some time now. Why is it acceptable for a student to have to spend 150 – 200 thousand US dollars or more for a Bachelors degree at some of these colleges while the same colleges get endowments from both the Federal government and private alumni donations. ( in the millions of dollars.) and end up with a troublingly low chance of employment commensurate with this cost? Additionally the same “private” colleges receive enormous amounts of public funds aside from the exorbitant tuition and fees and arrogantly pursue an ignorant liberal program intolerant of any counter argument. Seeing these once great institutions often started by Christian ideals ( investigate their histories) dotter to the ash heap of history will be a welcome event. Where is the money being spent? How about some transparency?

  8. This is a fantastic commentary on the the state of the academy. I’ve just earned my PhD and have often commented on the poor state of affairs detailed by this article. My unwanted comments have landed me in very hot water on more than one occasion. It’s very encouraging that articles like this are surfacing. Readers that enjoyed this article may also enjoy Thomas Sowell’s thoughts on higher education as well.

  9. Also, I agree about hard sciences salvaging once-great reputations, however, not necessarily graduate schools. Graduate schools are the places where close-minded faculty members are groomed and bred fro show.

  10. As a doctoral student in the social sciences at a highly regarded university, I think VDH’s assertion that universities have become “liberal bootcamp” is accurate. The situation is perhaps worse at the graduate level where research trajectories and projects are too often determined by ideology.

    I have been astounded by the lack of thoughtful discussion around difficult issues in my courses. Every professor in my dept. attributes the primary cause of every social problem to race, class, and gender. No discussion about other possible factors is permitted. The result is that many of my colleagues would be dismantled in a debate on their topics of interest because my colleagues simply do not understand the nuances of different perspectives in their own fields. They have been taught, instead, to be soldiers for the left-wing cause.

  11. This is a pretty good article except for the one familiar falsehood that Mr. Hanson keeps repeating. It’s about Israel, the most sacred cow in all of US politics.

    Hanson actually claims that “pro-Israel” speakers are discriminated against in countless public speaking engagements. Really? Please name some names, Mr. Hanson.

    His list obviously cannot include any former US president of any standing member of Congress or any American billionaire. Not one.

    Are there any famous artists, writers, celebrities, sports heroes, software engineers or movie stars who are famously ‘anti-Israel’ and who get speaking engagements at any American University? David Duke, perhaps? Mel Gibson? Prof. Kevin MacDonald? No. Not them. They are routinely vilified or ignored. Duke or MacDonald would likely be attacked if either set foot on any American campus to deliver a lecture about ‘Israel, America and the ‘special relationship’. What planet is Hanson from?

    Hanson is extraordinarily dishonest on the matter of Israel. The probably explains why his so-so observations receive such undeserved recognition.

  12. The dangers of academia, in secondary school and the modern university

    Complied by


    Copyright ©2014

    J.W. Carter

    Location: Kingsburg, CA

    Historian Victor Davis Hanson touches on the employment rates for college graduates in his

    June column . The reader finds out once again

    from Hanson that the clustering of student debt

    is as staggering as the dismal farming situation of

    the San Joaquin Valley. Hanson choose to give

    farming for a reason, and the complier also

    remains a small farmer for the same reason.

    It is true that only the lessons of the

    hard graduate schools have salvaged American

    universities’ International reputations. Just as

    the drought, the illegal famer laborer and the

    150,000 Ag Well has killed the small farmer.

    There has never actually been diversity in

    private/ higher education or farming .

    Education has always

    been subject to capital, political and social


    The Educational dangers of academia and the

    modern university is a result in America of

    Catholicism, Religious Secularism and

    Evangelical Protestantism.

    The Catholic, the Protestant

    Christians in Christendom, have realized that

    public education and other sections of Christians

    would be, from their viewpoint morally sound

    and an ally from their own Sunday schools Bible

    and tract societies.

    The 1800s and 2000s, show

    little difference in history of Americanism once

    again, the foreign savage and terrorist robs

    Americans of their jobs while burning the flag,

    degree of wealth is the story of Rafer who beat
    prejudice to become Americans first class actor

    and hero. A Democratic savior of the Kennedy

    Hypothesis for 1960s America, to stop the

    “Affliction of Evil of Prejudice!”

    In America the more prosperous

    and skilled segments of the working class likewise

    demand, free schools. Diversity, and religious sectionalism, mixed with the agnostic and the atheist has not only endangered academia; but killed the secondary school and the modern university.
    In the community of Kingsburg, the African-
    American student is absent for a reason? He has been replaced thanks to a different type of serfdom a majority rather than a minority. He also seems absent from sports teams. Why?

    While a football stadium stands dedicated to a one Rafer Johnson, in Kingsburg, CA Johnson’s story is better known out of town, as an outsider coming in. Would a Stadium outside of town be a greater honor to Johnson? Would a
    Johnson is living proof that public schools are “the great equalizers of secondary school and flaws of our Federal Government?” Why? Rafer moved to Kingsburg when he was five. In the 1940s Rafer and his family were the only black family in town. A little known fact was that he was never allowed to live in town. Had Rafer been given a private education and been of different social economic status, or skin pigmentation he may have become the Academic Scholar instead of a versatile athlete who played on Kingsburg’s High School, football, baseball and basketball teams. The Board of Governors and race relations that kept Rafer out, appointed him in the same capacity in 1992.
    Race is still biologically meaningless but academia still holds its grudge, as does the middle-class and the rich class. Competition for high wage jobs comes if you know someone or if you are well liked in meet sight criteria.
    Finding a job for a university educated single white male is like Harvard graduate looking for a job at the local McDonalds. Free thinking will land you in the street without a happy meal.
    Income in America has become a laughing matter. Nothing has changed in Obama’s America, although he wishes you to think so, the Rich get Richer and the Poor-Poorer. Iraq three could boast the economy, and colonizing the Middle East would make for a strong America but it won’t happen, either will educating the world that War is not the answer.
    The 1800 educational reformers are no different from those in the year 2000s. America and Americanism has not saved America from the European class system, it has found its way across the seas well past Plymouth Rock. Color, race and people who have fled public city schools systems over the centuries, along with those who choose to homeschool their children are no better than the public school parent.
    Public education like modern university only disarms the poor and only causes more hostility toward the rich and elite. Teaching in a Title One setting or a inner city shows the secular refashioning of millennial optimism and the American exceptinonalism of a teacher who refuses to give up on his or her student, despite their race or social economic status.
    School reform continues at the secondary and modern university level thanks to the middle-class struggle. President Obama has only made matters worse. Since the eighteenth century,
    are America and European rejects who have only fretted over what would become of the Republic, just as the Romans did. Christian killed the Roman Empire and the lack of Christian roots has killed the Harvard, Yale and Stanford graduate. There is a noticeable decline in virtues. The middle-class Protestant along with many others are still in the hands of European demagogues; like the Obamas the Clintons, Jimmy Carters, foreigners and paupers. The last person on the hiring list has become the single white male and the special mentally ill- Olympian, thanks none the less to the well to do dangers of academia and the sobs of wealthy league of extraordinary face bookers and linked in rejects of California’s Rich Bay Area zealots.
    Schools rich, poor, private or in home really aren’t the answer to the “plight,” jobless or low paying worker. Americans need to “free themselves from the low-minded grasp of socialist capitalism, founded on the roots of democratic ideals.” If education would teach good behavior America, America would still be the greatest nation on earth to receive a religious and academic education.

    The dangerous classes and the foreigners that have terrorized America, is not the Ph.D’s that Stanford Universities have graduated, rather those that think they are “too good,” to push a button at McDonalds. Hanson is “correct that Universities are the least transparent of U.S. institution, defending protocols more secretive than those the Swiss banking system.” However, Hanson is incorrect that legacies, athletic prowess, race and gender shows favoritism, had that statement been correct President Obama would not have been elected and Rafer Johnson would not have helped a
    He is also incorrect people do know why students get into Yale and Stanford, intellect and thanks for families with money and lots of credit card and student loan debt.
    The liberal arts are still alive just as alive and well as they were in 1960s, because academia always provides a voice, but it does not guarantee you a high paying job. The reason is due to the classical republican fears about the decline of civic virtue. Optimism about human nature, and “scientific,” proof continues to take a back seat to intelligent design. Intelligent design is what Ivy League Colleges were founded on.
    Being a product of Protestantism, one who enjoys the enrichment of education and the art of farming, it is a pity that our Republic can no long remain unique and free from Europe and its ills, or that of the international and foreign student, or the illegal immigrant’s children who seek discipline and bureaucratic structure, free from labor and destruction of drug, alcohol and greed.
    It is not an aging campus generation that will give up medieval privileges, it is not the more-open-minded innovative minds that have caused the dangers of academia, in secondary school and the modern university. Rather it is the atheists, the racist and the agnostic that enjoys the company of the European and their revenue. Relying on their own understanding the educator does not remain, unique, and free of Europe’s ills, his bound by his school boards curriculum.
    Academia, secondary school and the modern university was ruined in America in the 1800s thanks to the bureaucratic structure and decline of civic virtue, and the bureaucratic structure of the school systems, the same is true in 2014.
    Jared William Carter is a organic farmer and historian at C.F.P. I. and El Fuerte De Fruta.
    Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University. Email:

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