Press Releases | Liberal Arts

Resignation of U. of Chicago President is Victory for High Standards in Liberal Arts Education

ACTA Cites Resignation as Evidence That the Public, Faculty and Alumni Will Not Tolerate Dumbing Down Education
June 4, 1999

WASHINGTON, DC—Jerry L. Martin, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, today cited the announced resignation of University of Chicago President Hugo Sonnenschein as evidence that the public, faculty and alumni will not tolerate dumbing down education.

“Mr. Sonnenschein’s decision to step down is clear proof that the administration could not defend a plan that would weaken undergraduate education,” said Martin. “This is a perfect example of how professors and influential alumni can join forces to protect high standards and a nationally acclaimed college curriculum.”

ACTA coordinated the formation of a group of distinguished alumni and faculty called Scholars for the University of Chicago which opposed curricular changes which would cut the core curriculum by a third and increase the size of the student body. The Scholars group includes Nobel Laureate Saul Bellow, social scientist David Riesman, educator and philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, former judge Robert J. Bork, and Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon. The Scholars wrote in April to the university board of trustees warning that that it was “tragic” that the University was “embarked on a course threatening to its distinctive mission.”

“The victory at the University of Chicago has national implications,” said Martin. “Every college administration has been put on notice: alumni, faculty and trustees will challenge any attempt to undermine academic standards. Compromising academic excellence in the name of marketing simply cannot withstand public scrutiny.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to academic freedom and excellence. Its members include trustees and alumni from more than 200 institutions of higher education across the country.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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