Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What should university presidents do? 

Opinion Journal carries a reprint of Victor Davis Hanson's discussion of The Claremont Review of Books article on the decline of the university presidency. The whole thing needs reading, but the conclusion bears your serious consideration:
More importantly, we have lost sight of what university presidents are supposed to be. Their first allegiance ought to be to honesty and truth, not campus orthodoxy masquerading as intellectual bravery amid a supposedly reactionary society. In a world of intellectual integrity, Robert Birgeneau would ask, 'Why are Asians excelling, and what can Berkeley do to encourage emulation of their success by other ethnic groups?' Denice Denton might wonder whether open hiring, monitored by affirmative action officers, applies to university staff or only those who are not associates of the President. President Hoffman would decry Ward Churchill's crass behavior and order a complete review of affirmative action and the politicized nature of hiring, retention, and tenure practices at Colorado. And Larry Summers? In the old world of the campus, he would defend free inquiry and expression, and remind faculty that all questions are up for discussion at Harvard. And if self-appointed censors wished to fire him for that, then he would dare them to go ahead and try.
I've inserted links to the university presidents mentioned here, all of whom lack the courage and vision VDH wants. But name me those who have had it?

Benjamin Rogge once noted that George Stigler said, "The typical college catalogue would never stop Diogenes in his search for an honest man."