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Conformity enforcers

The King's College may be the next victim of the academic left

Issue: "Who will be the next pope?," April 16, 2005

The King's College, a conservative, Christian institution that holds its classes in the Empire State Building, may be shut down. Despite a solid record of achievement and positive outside assessment, a member of the New York state Board of Regents is trying to do just that.

Founded in 1955 in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., the college closed 10 years ago but was purchased in 1999 by Campus Crusade, which moved it to New York City. Its student body is small-260 students-but average SAT scores are 1,140 and high-school GPA is 3.5. The school has programs through Oxford University and majors in politics, philosophy, economics, and business. (The New York program of the World Journalism Institute, a WORLD affiliate, is held at The King's College.)

The school passed its accreditation review, which allows students to receive federally subsidized financial aid, with flying colors, and the state Education Department recommended a five-year extension. But when the recommendation went to the state Board of Regents, a step that is usually a formality, one member objected.

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John Brademas, former president of New York University and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, raised questions about everything from the school's name (which originally belonged to Columbia University in colonial days but which now refers to Christ) to Campus Crusade. In addition to nit-picking about the school's size, faculty, and library (ignoring the information in the self-study report), Mr. Brademas insinuated that the school might practice religious discrimination in admissions, despite evidence that it does not. The Regents were set to deny accreditation altogether.

Why would a former president of New York University show such hostility to a Christian and politically conservative college? Because academia does not show much tolerance for diversity.

That college professors tend to be liberal is hardly news, but a new study published in the online political science journal Forum shows just how liberal they are. Of all college and university professors, 72 percent describe themselves as liberal, while only 15 percent say they are conservative. In contrast, only 18 percent of the general public consider themselves liberal, with 33 percent considering themselves conservative (a majority describe themselves as "moderate").

At the elite "top tier" schools (the most highly rated Ph.D.-granting institutions), 87 percent are liberal. Conservative faculty members are mostly relegated to "lower tier" institutions.

Fifty-one percent of faculty members say they rarely or never attend religious services, while 31 percent do. Sixty-seven percent believe homosexuality is acceptable. And a whopping 84 percent support legal abortion.

Liberals outnumbered conservatives in all fields, including business (49 percent to 39 percent) and engineering (51 percent to 19 percent). Among social scientists, 75 percent are liberal. The most liberal of all are in humanities departments (80 percent), and the most left-leaning of all departments are English literature, philosophy, political science, and-surprise-religious studies, where only 5 percent of the faculty consider themselves conservative.

What's to be done for the tiny conservative outpost meeting in the Empire State Building? Enter Joseph Frey, the Assistant Commissioner of Quality Assurance for the Education Department. He insisted to the Board of Regents that The King's College programs "meet the standards" and managed to get the Regents to agree to a one-year extension. In effect, The King's College has one year to meet the Regents' concerns, even though most of them are bogus.

Does this mean conservatives and Christians should stay out of higher education and fields such as English? Not at all! They are needed now more than ever, if only to rescue great writers from their captivity in academic gulags. But this means joining the fray and battling discrimination. One day, perhaps, the academic community will discover the virtue of tolerance and embrace diversity.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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