WASHINGTON, DC—Distinguished educator Mortimer J. Adler and former judge Robert H. Bork today called on University of Chicago trustees to delay proposed changes to the curriculum that would cut the University’s acclaimed core curriculum by a third. They have joined Scholars for the University of Chicago, a group of alumni and former faculty, who have protested the cuts. The board is scheduled to meet on June 4.
Ten distinguished scholars last month launched the group and outlined their views in a letter to President Hugo Sonnenschein and the board of trustees, opposing changes which would dilute academic standards and increase the size of the student body.
The proposed curricular changes will reduce the core curriculum from 21 to 15 courses, eliminating specific existing requirements in mathematics and languages and reducing the total number of classes required in humanities and civilization studies.
According to the letter, the university is lowering standards in order to attract less intellectual students. A university administrator is quoted as saying, “I don’t know how many students we can attract if we go after those who only seek the life of the mind.”
“Making academic decisions on the basis of marketing is itself a crime against the mind,” the letter said.
Coordinated by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a national organization that promotes academic excellence, Scholars for the University of Chicago has doubled in size since it was announced in mid-April. The group includes Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow, Harvard social scientist David Riesman, Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, University of Pennsylvania history professor Walter McDougall and UCLA professor James Q. Wilson.
“The support of Mortimer Adler is particularly significant,” said ACTA president Jerry L. Martin. “Adler is a living legend. He was a mentor to Chicago president Robert Hutchins and intellectual godfather of the core. When Adler speaks, the board should listen.”
Expanding enrollments may result in more classes taught by graduate students, the letter also said. As of 1997-98, “only 40 percent of classes in the social science core were being taught by regular faculty and 43 percent in the humanities core.”
The following have joined Scholars for the University of Chicago:
Mortimer J. Adler, educator and editor-in-chief, Great Books of the Western World, chairman of the board of editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, co-founder and chairman, Center for the Study of The Great Ideas
Saul Bellow, Nobel Laureate and University Professor, Boston University
Seth Benardete, Professor of Classics, New York University
Walter Berns, University Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
The Honorable Robert H. Bork, former judge and former Alexander M. Bickel Professor of Public Law, Yale Law School
John D. Fonte, independent scholar and former senior researcher, United States Department of Education
Michael Allen Gillespie, Professor of Political Science, Duke University
Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Robert Goldwin, former professor, Kenyon College
Ruth Grant, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Duke University
Paul Gronke, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Duke University
Gertrude Himmelfarb, Professor Emeritus of History, City University of New York
Charles Horner, former faculty member, International Institute of Strategic Studies and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Robert Lerner, former assistant professor, Syracuse University; faculty associate, Johns Hopkins University
Michael J. Malbin, Professor of Political Science, SUNY at Albany
Walter A. McDougall, professor of history and international relations, University of Pennsylvania
Robert Michaels, former Dean, Cornell College Medical School
Althea K. Nagai, independent scholar and former Visiting Lecturer, Smith College
Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum and editor, Middle East Quarterly
David Riesman, Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus, Harvard University
Stanley Rosen, Professor of Philosophy, Boston University
Robert B. Rosthal, professor emeritus of philosophy , University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Eric Schopler, professor of psychology and psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
John C. Weicher, former professor of economics at The Ohio State University and the University of California at Irvine
James Q. Wilson, James Collins Professor of Management, University of California at Los Angeles
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonprofit organization of alumni and trustees from over 200 colleges and universities across the country based in Washington, DC.