It’s push-back time in higher education, as in other areas of American life dominated by the left or just the barnacle-encrusted arbiters of privilege. There’s to be a chance for private givers to seek and receive intelligent review of their giving plans. And then maybe back off. Or push forward – who can say?
Point is, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) will announce today, December 6th, a plan to “give donors a more powerful voice in determining the direction that U.S. colleges and universities take in the future.” ACTA’s Fund for Academic Renewal “will assist donors in building programs that expand the study of American history and government, civic education, economic literacy, and classic works of literature and philosophy.”
Gee – classic works! How anti-establishment: that being the point, after all, at this present debased moment in American higher education, when various fashionable sub-species of human knowledge receive, at many prestigious institutions, more attention than Shakespeare and Milton.
The right of such institutions to teach what they want is indisputable, at least in the private sector. So is the right, not to mention the duty, of givers large and small to make sure their money doesn’t go for junk science, junk literature, junk history – whatever a school sees as fulfilling its commitment to “academic diversity,” irrespective of more than momentary interest.
The Fund for Academic Renewal, according to ACTA, will provide donors “with an alternative [to the academic status quo]: an opportunity to carefully and thoughtfully craft gifts that will make a real difference.” Many donors will welcome that opportunity, so that their gifts might not just descend into some large stewpot of academic mischief but, rather, reflect an interest in what T. S. Eliot called “the permanent things.”
“Even major donations,” ACTA explains, “are sometimes re-purposed in ways that fail to respect the donor’s original intent.” Which is bad business – academically and culturally; the sort of thing that happens without there being much to do about it. Maybe that’s about to change – here and there, now and then. Count such a prospect as long-overdue progress.