When William Jacobson graduated from Hamilton College in the early ’80′s, the school had the reputation a “no-nonsense school with rigorous academics and very little of the academic political correctness sweeping other campuses at the time.”

Dr. Robert Paquette, Ph.D. is prize-winning historian who co-founded in 2007 the independent Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. In the wake of liberal outrage, his team was forced to move the fully-funded center off of Hamilton’s campus.

In a recent analysis, Paquette attempts to answer his own question: Why did college administrators and trustees allow the takeover and degradation of their institutions by an eclectic troupe of left-wing activists and transgressives who organized the diversity cartel? In part, he looks to his own history for the answer:

When I arrived at Hamilton College in 1981, a core faculty of aging, moderate Democrats— male, tweedy, professional, and anti-Communist—served as the moral ballast of the faculty. At the time, Hamilton’s president, J. Martin Carovano, an economist by training and a modest, unassuming man, erect with principle and universally popular among the humblest of the College’s wage-laborers, was locked in a death struggle about the College’s future with “progressive” faculty left over after the merger of the all-male Hamilton College with the all-female Kirkland College.

I now look back at the Carovano years with a touch of sadness, perhaps a bit of nostalgia, for in retrospect he figures in my mind as the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Through all his campus battles with the cultural radicals, whether on denial-of-tenure cases, investments in South Africa, or residential life— President Carovano showed exemplary courage. But the opposition knew full well, given the gross imbalance of political forces on campus, that the road to victory lay not in defeating his courage, but rather in breaking his stamina. Fatigue sets in. The braying barbarians at these gates, as Larry Summers can attest, are relentless if nothing else….

Truth be told, most college presidents now largely identify with the cultural agenda that has taken hold on campus, and if not, they quickly learn to go through the motions, surviving by appeasing.

Paquette also addresses how colleges are trying to sell their liberalized programs:

Quality is essentially a marketing problem. Selling an elite liberal arts education, for them, is at core like selling a box of detergent or a bottle of dish soap. Want a more distinguished faculty? No problem. Let’s create a lot more titles for the campus egalitarians and dispense them in a grandiose ceremony with the appropriate media attention and press releases.

The history professor concludes with an observation on the current approach to the “higher education bubble“: When was the last time you heard a college president or a chairman of the board of trustees admit publicly to the existence on campus of any serious problem (other than the threat of a non-existent right)? “Everything’s fine here.”


 
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