Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Interesting News

Antioch College, which arguably puts too much "liberal" into the liberal arts, is shutting down. The right reaction is probably "good riddance," but the more serious question is whether the marketplace is beginning to work even in the insulated world of higher ed. Will this be just the first of a string of mediocre, politicized colleges to go out of business?

Discussions - 21 Comments

No, private institutions just can't compete with the ridiculous government funding of public universtities. Education keeps trending public, and that's how the government wants it.

"whether the marketplace is beginning to work even in the insulated world of higher ed."

Gee, I hope so. If the marketplace really begins to "work," as you suggest, then maybe it can clear the field of such schools as Bob Jones University, Christendom College, Oral Roberts University, Liberty University.....

Then the selection process will have succeeded in ridding us of colleges that fail to fit "our" model of what a place of higher learning should be.

Steve,

In a simply market-dominated world, publicly-funded institutions and those that gave "the people" what they wanted (for the most part, easy grades and career training) would prosper. There would also be something of a premium on pleasing idiosyncratic philanthropists (a ray of hope, I suppose, though for everyone interested in traditional liberal education, there are probably ten George Soroses). What would be least likely to survive (without long-inherited philanthropic or denominational capital) is rigorous traditional liberal education. Oh, St. John"s and a few others would make it, but a lot of places probably wouldn't.

Stated another way, the educational marketplace would likely work in the direction of rewarding the currently rich (who are effectively insulated from its forces; places like Princeton and Harvard don't actually "need" undergraduates) and the purely career-oriented. There'd likely be less of the kind of diversity for which American higher education is known. And the resources for cultural renewal would be less readily available for future generations.

I make an exception (and this is for you also, Fung) for religiously-affiliated colleges and universities. A lot of them know their "markets" quite well and will not suffer the fate of Antioch, though I worry about colleges affiliated with small or poor denominations. Higher education of any quality is relatively expensive, even if you leave out the bells and whistles that the progeny of the baby boomers have come to expect when they arrive on campus.

Yes, I saw this too. It is interesting. My guess is that our new meritocracy did it in. Were their graduates being prepared for the best grad schools, professional schools....? That's what the new liberal cosmopolites want. Global travelling rather than dope sessions. I drove over to Antioch in the summer of 1970 to see a girl friend. It was a den of acid heads and hippy wannabes. No grades then as I recall. Only St. John's can get away with that. The better residential liberal arts schools are on the whole thriving, including the better Christian ones...if only they can dodge the Margaret Spelling juggernaut.

Fung, you flunk. Many of those evangelical colleges are in amazingly high demand. Falwell's Liberty University gets something like 20,000 applications for admission for something like 2,200 spots--nearly Ivy League numbers. I think you are trying to make a different point, but it wasn't to my point, which is that students may actually start turning away from places like Antioch that lack real diversity and indulge political correctness too much.

Joe, you add nuance to my rough remarks. You are right in general about the ones that are more likely to thrive in the current environment. But Steve reminds that real diversity can still exist because of religion and strong political convictions, the preservation of which depends on a liberal arts education.

I lived near there for a while and checked out the syllabi, etc online. I even went over to Yellow Springs to look around. No one in their right mind would send a child there. Long gone are the days when that school produced people like Coretta Scott King and Clifford Geertz. This is not a political observation - plenty of good schools out there with a faculty dominated by leftists. Antioch was a kitsch-marxist day camp; a total waste of time and money without grades, standards, or purpose beyond indoctrination. Fung, if you saw it, you wouldn't defend it...

My point is that the needed diversity is not always to be found IN the school, but rather AMONG schools. If kids were allowed to select cereals, then there would be a high demand for Frosted Flakes and Cookie Crisp, and those cereals would survive, while healthier ones would not. The market would work, but not really to the benefit of anyone but Cookie Crisp.

A few years ago, Trinity College in Vermont went under, which I found very sad, since I had some good memories there, and it must be depressing when one's alma mater ceases to exist. I would also find it sad if less mainstream conservative schools found it impossible to compete, if they had been providing a quality academic experience for people who valued that kind of education.

I am guessing that champions of the market would not be trumpeting so loudly if it were Ashland, or Lynchburg picking up stakes.

What's wrong with Christendom, Fung? It offers a deeply rich education in the classics (the like of which you'll find at few colleges where your children will flounder around learning out of textbooks in "elective" courses) and an authentically Catholic education steeped in the Magisterium. As "Catholic" colleges offer little that is authentically Catholic and colleges offer what barely resembles an "education," many traditional Catholics are demanding such schools in the marketplace so that their children can receive a proper education. It is precisely that nature of the market that supports such an institution.

The line in the article about the place having a very low endowment rang a bell. The New School in NYC was the same way, for a long time. The story was that the school was wary of the influence of fat-cat donors. By the early 1980s the place nearly went under, but they hired a new president, Jonathan Fanton, who saved the place by, among other things, starting an endowment fund.

Makes me wonder if Antioch had a similar prejudice but never had the sense to correct it. It also sounds as if they became so wrapped up with their other projects--grad schools, satellite campuses, etc.--that they neglected the undergraduate school.

Don't forget Will, they also had all that "social justice" to attend to!

In a simply market-dominated world, publicly-funded institutions and those that gave "the people" what they wanted (for the most part, easy grades and career training) would prosper. There would also be something of a premium on pleasing idiosyncratic philanthropists (a ray of hope, I suppose, though for everyone interested in traditional liberal education, there are probably ten George Soroses). What would be least likely to survive (without long-inherited philanthropic or denominational capital) is rigorous traditional liberal education. Oh, St. John"s and a few others would make it, but a lot of places probably wouldn't.

For whatever reason, 39% of the degrees awarded by tertiary institutions in America today are in one of the academic liberal arts or in the fine arts. The notion that instruction in same would evaporate because of insufficient demand is not an extrapolation from the current state of the world

If you are concerned about the fate of the sort of non-disciplinary literary and philosophical education traded in by St. John's, can one point to a public institution today where it is offered? Is there reason to suppose that a withdrawal of public subsidies to tertiary education would cause the share (not the whole number) of students partaking of a St. John's program to contract? Why would philanthropists be proportionately less interested in promoting such education in the absence of public subventions?

Joe Knippenberg, the problem with your "market only world" is that it does not exist.


Instead, there are corporate consolidation driven profits which are taxed to generate government consolidation. Dangerous cycle. At the peak lies Marxism or Fascism - whichever you prefer to call it.


Jonah Goldberg considers one of the best critiques from the left the admonishment that our aggressive market consolidation is in fact growing the federal government, and those monster big businesses are then able to wield disproportionate power over the state apparatus


'liberal' in the classic sense means 'non slave', and as in the Medieval curriculum the "liberal arts" were the subjects not deemed worthy for slaves (most notably Greek and Latin, and Philosophy), whereas the "servile arts" (e.g. business management, accounting, economics, etc.) were deemed worthy for slaves to study.

There is nothing that gives me a better feeling than sitting on my big front porch, drinking lemonade, reading Vergil in Latin or Homer in Greek, and looking out over my estate and seeing negros or Mexicans working in my fields.


You have got to be kidding me if you think that St. John's has a "rigorous program." Most of the readings are in English, the materials they use for Greek are simplistic (a rigorous program would use Hansen and Quinn), they don't study Latin at all, and much of the real Western tradition is wallpapered over by left-wing neocon platitudes. It's a joke. These "Great Books" programs may seem "rigorous" to some knave with a degree in political science, but they are a subtle form of barbarism. Matthew Arnold supported them for the working class, and they were first initiated at Chicago and Columbia for people too stupid and too lazy to learn Greek and Latin. The traditional way of mastering Greek and Latin, by the way, is through composition, like one finds in Bradley's Arnold. (But this would be too difficult for the shallow courses at St. John's). For any Euro-American who fancies himself at all an aristocrat, or at least pro-aristocracy, St. John's is not only a joke, but the antithesis of seriousness.

O.K., Sir Walter, I'll bite. Where does a paleocon send his sons to be educated?

the sixteenth century, apparently...

My nephew does not even have a college degree, and he was only homeschooled. Yet he is proficient in Greek and Latin, the Western Canon, etc. He has read most of the Greek and Latin canon in Greek and Latin. He has mastered Greek and Latin composition, etc., and now he is helping us manage some of our business interests. I would be willing to put him up against any of you "Ph.D's" here in a site translation contest of any random passage from Plato, Aristotle or Cicero. We can bet $500. What do you say? Since he's only 21, I figure the contest would be more fair. (There's no way I'd put you up against me - now that would be unfair.) We could have a contest where you do a blind translation of any passage, and then must write a short essay on its meaning. We could have a random pool of judges.

now he is helping us manage some of our business interests.

Does that mean he uses the whip on the "negros or Mexicans" working in your fields? Just curious.

Sir Walter/Paleocon are you Sean Templeton? If so, that explains a lot.

Diversity is an abused term.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/10634