The on-line journal of DFTD reports on free speech and discourse and ideological balance issues at Davidson and serves as a clearing house for reports and articles nationwide illuminating the situation on other campuses, articulating the campus free speech cause, or proposing remedies to address the nationwide threat to free speech and open discourse on higher education campuses. In the interest of an informed and open dialogue, we encourage signed letters to the editor, and will consider, as well, original articles on free speech and ideological balance issues.
Davidson Freedom Roundup
A Davidson professor bemoans the state of his classroom.
In June 2014, I wrote a piece entitled “Reform Intro Economics” for Inside Higher Ed. There, I argued that then-current introductory economics courses were little changed from those of decades past. I further stated that the students of 2014 found the unrevised course somewhat unsatisfactory:
I recall vividly in the early 1980s spending fifteen minutes walking two hundred yards with my older faculty mentor from our offices to Davidson’s post office. Along the way, he greeted or was greeted by Davidson students, staff, other faculty, and townspeople. For each there was a hearty “good morning” or a “you are looking so well,” or to an advisee, “how is your calculus class going?”
It’s August, and millions of students, teachers, and administrators are headed back to the nation’s college campuses. Colleges predict enrollment will rise in 2022, reversing a decade of decline since a 2010 peak of 21 million students. On par with recent history, two-thirds of high school graduates will enter a 2- or 4-year program this fall.
Even so, the nation’s appetite for college seems to be changing. Financial and cultural changes at universities have altered the cost-benefit calculus for students and families.
UNC’s Board of Trustees adopts a resolution on free expression and institutional neutrality—but the school’s academic departments remain committed to ideological coercion.
The Academic Freedom Alliance urges institutions of higher education to desist from demanding
“diversity statements” as conditions of employment or promotion. The rapid and widespread
dissemination of such statements has proceeded with far too little attentiveness to obvious threats
to academic freedom. At the very least, institutions should pause any continued solicitation of
diversity statements until there has been a thorough airing of their putative benefits, how they are
I was profiled recently in the Wall Street Journal, which was an interesting experience for a mild-mannered, retiring professor. It illustrated for me how things I’ve written about the Renaissance get filtered through current political passions. Quidquid recipitur, recipitur ad modum recipientis, as Aquinas used to say: People receive what they are prepared to receive. (I knew enough not to read the comments section. It's not good for faith, hope, or charity. Or sleep.)
Larry Summers is one of the most important economists in the world. He’s been the chief economist at the World Bank. He was Treasury Secretary under President Clinton. He was director of the National Economic Council under Obama. And from 2001 to 2006, he was president of Harvard.
On the new McCarthyism and the future of higher education:
On July 27, the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees made a strong, new commitment to safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus. Colleges and universities face immense pressure to comport with majority beliefs, but UNC’s trustees proactively resolved to maintain institutional neutrality on controversial political and social issues.
Consider this my “burning platform” memo for higher ed, Temple University president Jason Wingard writes.
In 2011, then Nokia CEO Stephen Elop delivered a poignant and passionate memo to all of the company’s employees. There was no sugarcoating the overarching theme of the sincere but somber and grimly characterized 1,227-word message.