Thursday, December 28, 2023

Conti on the future of universities

 A new post over at Substack, a nice essay by Greg Conti on the future of universities. 


  1. Strangely, I am less worried about higher education idiocy than most critical observers. The so-called elite universities are the major transgressors. Keeping up their behavior, they will eventually recede into nothingness, once the endowments have been eaten up.

    There is plenty of competition on both sides of the market + donors.

  2. I believe all federal aid(loan backing, etc) for colleges should be ended! It has been obvious for a LONG TIME...that the money is WASTED!

  3. One of my kids goes to an small elite NY college...I got to listen to its president say they were going to keep admitting students BASED on race, after the recent court decision. My oldest attended and tutored at an Ivy League college...and "tried" to help obviously stupid students with writing. END ALL Federal backing of Colleges!

  4. Attempted to post a comment to the Substack webpage ("Conti on the future of universities"). It was rejected because of a fail in the 'add a profile' dialogue box, initially because the entered profile was longer than 250 characters, but ultimately, when the profile was reduced to 244 characters and an update was attempted Substack continued to reject the effort to upload the revised profile, the whole effort was abandoned. John, I'll give it one more college-try and if that fails, I'll give over and say "Sayonara!"

  5. Controversy about Harvard and its role in society is nothing new. Viz.,
    ‘There is a natural hostility between college-bred men and those who are "self-made," to which class belong the majority of journalists, and this enmity expends itself in spreading false rumors and injurious statements. The only thing that we can do is to live down this bad reputation by conducting ourselves properly as students and as graduates, and by spreading a knowledge of the true state of things whenever there is a chance.’ The Harvard Crimson, January 26, 1888.

    Universities were first established as seminaries, and Harvard Univ. was no exception to that sectarian tradition, i.e., the education of adherents to the various and sundry religious sects for the proselytization of the sect's beliefs amongst the heathen and for defense against the heretics seeking to turn the faithful against the true religion (howsoever defined).

    But, G. Conti uses the term 'sectarian' in another more base context, i.e., "illiberal", though there is little doubt that the behaviour observed in recent times within the universities, and without, run to gross sectarianism as formerly practiced during the Reformation and Counter-reformation.

    What conclusions to draw from this? I am tempted to respond with quotations from Ecclesiastes I: 3-4, and 9-11, viz.,
    "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever. … The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that come after."

    It is not a juvenile phase that passes away with the passage of time. Nor is it as violent as the revolutions of 1848 that K. Marx and F. Engels are often associated with through their various and sundry publications and their personal acts in support of active revolution against the established order of that day and age, though it may yet come to that, as it has in the more recent past, e.g., 1968.

    It was well noted during my early college days that the most dangerous sort of revolutionary, to any society ripe for revolution, is the wealthy revolutionary. In the case of The Harvard Corporation, you have wealth in plenitude and an unassailable redoubt in the form of private institution of higher learning with a long pedigree, against which the 'hoi polloi' and their representatives have few if any slings and arrows capable of denting the institution's drive to revolutionize the state of the Union.

    And, so we come to that state of affairs when "thesis" and "antithesis" contend to later emerge as "synthesis", of a sort. It may well be necessary to establish free universities, not in the sense that the tuition therein shall be "free", i.e., costless, but that the institutions shall be founded on liberal principles and practices free of the sectarianism that G. Conti properly finds objectionable in the leading private universities today.


Comments are welcome. Keep it short, polite, and on topic.

Thanks to a few abusers I am now moderating comments. I welcome thoughtful disagreement. I will block comments with insulting or abusive language. I'm also blocking totally inane comments. Try to make some sense. I am much more likely to allow critical comments if you have the honesty and courage to use your real name.