Looking Back at Boulder

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story out today about the experiment I began at the University of Colorado at Boulder two years ago, now that the smoke (what kind of smoke you ask?) has cleared. The story is behind a subscriber paywall, but here’s the lede and a few fun parts plus some additional commentary from me:

After 3 Years, U. of Colorado Deems Its Conservative-Scholars Program a Success

By Courtney Kueppers

In 2013, Steven F. Hayward accepted what he calls a “gonzo challenge” from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Seeking to support an underrepresented viewpoint on their campus, the university’s administrators invited Mr. Hayward to fill a newly created and unusual position there: a one-year term as a “visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy.”

“I was somewhat reluctant about the whole idea,” said Mr. Hayward, who had been a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, written for The Wall Street Journal and other national newspapers, and published a two-volume biography of Ronald Reagan. “It’s an imperfect idea, but it has this advantage: The fact that I was so well advertised and it was such a high-profile appointment meant that I did not have to practice any kind of self-censorship that a lot of conservatives feel in academia.” . . .

In commenting on the scarcity of qualified conservatives in higher education, I offered this thought:

“A lot of conservatives don’t want to go to graduate school or pursue an academic career because, one, it’s a crapshoot for everybody, academic jobs are hard to get these days,” said Mr. Hayward, now the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. “But then also there’s the fear that if you’re a conservative, it will be harder to get hired.” . . .

I added that there’s increasing evidence of this, collected in the Dunn-Shields book I’ve mentioned before.

Mr. Hayward said not having to worry about concealing his conservatism was a highlight of his time in Colorado.

“An awful lot of conservatives in academia practice self-censorship,” Mr. Hayward said. “Well, I didn’t have to do that ­— in fact, quite the opposite. The administration and the donors who funded the program really wanted me to be a public presence, not so much to pick fights but to invite outside conservative speakers.”

 Stay tuned. I’ll have some fun follow up news to announce in a few weeks.


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