Cultural Revolutions

A Free-For-All

A lot of Americans are worried about the way universities are teaching our children. During the second weekend of November 1988, equally concerned members of the National Association of Scholars gathered at the old Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

There are clearly quite a few articulate, thoughtful scholars in our colleges and universities on whom presidents and regents can call to provide the leadership that is needed to take us out of our current morass. No one who heard young historian Alan Kors (Pittsburgh) tell of his stand against campus radicals will doubt that strong leadership can help a school begin the slow, gradual return to high academic standards. No one who heard Jeane Kirkpatrick (Georgetown) tell of the suppression of free speech on campuses will doubt the need. But do presidents and regents care?

One does. The speech John Silber, president of Boston University, gave was a revelation. Silber told us clearly and forcefully why the humanities, in the broadest sense, are at the heart of any curriculum worthy of the name. He paused to explain how even a poem as simple and touching as Milton's sonnet on his late wife was incomprehensible to someone who did not know Greek myth and Greek literature. He reminded us that a liberal education in the literature and values of our society is a debt we owe our children. An academic leader who possesses eloquence, wisdom, and passion is a rara avis. Silber...

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