ON-Lion Letter

"At the dawn of the new millennium, American higher education faced a crisis," begins a January report from The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, N.C.  "Dogmatic philosophies of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and statism were sweeping away thousands of years of Western thought.  The academy was being scrubbed of free market economics, traditional attitudes toward Western civilization, time-tested methods of scholarship, and the general philosophy of liberty.

"Into this breach stepped a new concept:  privately funded academic centers that preserve and promote the knowledge and perspectives that are disappearing from the academy, with an emphasis on undergraduate education," continues Renewal in the University:  How Academic Center Restore the Spirit of Inquiry, by Pope Center director of policy analysis Jay Schalin.

"In 2000, the James Madison Program at Princeton University opened its doors," Schalin recounts.  "Today, the number of such centers, institutes, and programs that roughly follow the Madison model ... exceeds 150."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports Pope Center projects, Princeton's James Madison Program, and other similar academic centers and efforts to create them elsewhere.  The Pope Center's Renewal in the University report was funded by the Thomas W. Smith Foundation.

The report "discusses many of these centers, some aspects of the way they are funded, and the charitable organizations that initiated or support them," according to Schalin.  "It shows the myriad of programs they provide for students, often on a shoestring budget, and explains how they are able to survive in environments that range from welcoming to hostile.

"With a few exceptions, these centers," he writes, "are not just surviving but thriving, thanks to their directors' tact and strict adherence to objective principles of inquiry.  As they continue to prove their value and grow in number, they give great hope for the future of the American academy."

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |