Over the past weekend, the new student group named the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale hosted an auspicious conference commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Bill Buckley’s seminal book, God and Man at Yale. Peter Berkowitz wrote about the event here for RealClearPolitics; the Wall Street Journal published Neal Freeman’s remarks at the conference here. Berkowitz explains in his column that Lauren Noble ’11 teamed up with a few friends to launch the Buckley Program in the spring semester of her senior year.
We invited Buckley Program president Nathaniel Zelinksy ’13 to report on the event for our readers. He writes:
On November 4, 200 Yale alumni, students and faculty gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s God and Man at Yale. Hosted by the Buckley Program — an all student-run group dedicated to promoting intellectual diversity on Yale’s campus — the event reflected the best characteristics of the “patron saint” of modern conservatism: Sharp wit, intelligence, and depth of thought. Speakers included Dr. Henry Kissinger, a lifelong friend of Buckley’s, National Review’s Rich Lowry, and Weekly Standard founder-editor Bill Kristol, among others.
It is safe to say that God and Man at Yale launched the conservative movement sixty years ago. The book placed Buckley on the national scene, establishing him as a voice for reasoned, well written, but unapologetic conservatism. Without it, WFB may never have founded National Review, never inspired Barry Goldwater, and never have laid the foundation for Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Six-decades later, William F. Buckley Jr. has no heir apparent to speak with his authority. In fact, the current, anti-intellectual political climate discourages another WFB from blossoming. With the lack of true diversity of thought on college campuses, finding another Buckley may be a long time in coming.
The Buckley Program at Yale strives to correct this trend and live up to its namesake’s legacy. It provides a missing part of the legitimate academic discourse through hosting speakers, sponsoring debates and funding summer internships at conservative publications. Buckley Student Fellows range from pre-meds to classics majors to aspiring physicists and economists. Only a year old, the Program has been met with acclaim on campus for its thoughtful discussion, which draws students of all political stripes and ideologies.
While only time will tell what impact it has at Yale, the Program is poised to recharge campus sixty years after Buckley first published his wake-up call to the nation. For more information on the program, visit www.BuckleyProgram.com.
Mr. Zelinsky forwards the photograph below from this past weekend’s festivities. In the photo former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaks with Bill Kristol and Yale’s esteemed Professor (and member of the Buckley Program faculty board of advisors) Donald Kagan.