Press Releases | Liberal Arts

Prominent Donors Call on Georgetown to Restore Curricular Quality

"Monsters" Have Equal Billing with Shakespeare in Georgetown English Curriculum
April 17, 2000

WASHINGTON, DC—In the wake of the announced retirement of President Leo O’Donovan, two prominent Georgetown University donors today wrote to the Georgetown Board of Directors and other donors and alumni urging them to demand the restoration of curricular coherency and substance on campus.

Kathleen McCreary, parent of a 1997 Georgetown graduate, and Joseph Sussen, a 1949 graduate of the College, sent a letter stating that “all is not well at Georgetown. Over the last decade, it has succumbed, as so many leading intellectual institutions, to some of the excesses of political correctness.”

The donors take the Georgetown English curriculum to task for revealing a continued “dumbing down and politicization” and outline tendentious and trivial courses including “Monsters Among Us” and “Body Politics.” The “Monster” course examines “Frankenstein and Dracula and requires a final group project ‘to construct a monster of your own.’”

The authors urge the directors, donors and alumni “independently to verify all that we allege” and to express their concerns to board chairman John R. Kennedy, Jr. and other members of the board.

“Civilization must be passed on anew to every generation,” the donors write. “We entrust this task to colleges and universities. To accomplish this noble mission, solid, coherent courses must be taught which advance students’ knowledge of the basic landmarks of civilization and equip them with the knowledge needed for engaged participation in civic life. Now, as the Board looks for a new president and has the opportunity to reassess the University’s mission and goals, we hope that you will ask that coherency and substance be restored to the curriculum.”

Coordinated by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a national organization that promotes academic excellence, the letter was forwarded to over 100 recipients along with tabbed copies of ACTA’s 1996 report The Shakespeare File: What English Majors Are Really Studying. That study found that two-thirds of the top 70 colleges and universities—including Georgetown—no longer require their English majors to study Shakespeare. The report was issued in response to an announcement by Georgetown in 1996 that it had eliminated its Shakespeare requirement.

“These donors have got it right,” said ACTA president Jerry L. Martin. “The colleges have simply taken for granted for too long that they can take money while turning a deaf ear to donor and alumni concerns. These donors are saying—enough. It’s time for the college to renew its historic commitment to high academic standards or expect to see contributions dry up. When devoted alumni and donors speak in this way, the board of trustees should listen.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national nonprofit organization of college alumni and trustees based in Washington, DC dedicated to academic freedom, excellence and accountability. Its members come from more than 200 colleges and universities across the country, including Georgetown.


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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