The Forum | Freedom of Expression

This Week in Higher Ed 12/14

December 14, 2018

Temple University Decides Not to Discipline Professor Marc Lamont Hill

In a talk before the United Nations, Marc Lamont Hill, professor of media studies at Temple University, spoke in favor of Palestinian rights, declaring that he hoped to see a free Palestine from “the river to the sea.” As “the river” refers to the Jordan River, and “the sea” refers to the Mediterranean Sea, this phrase is commonly taken as advocating for the elimination of Israel. Following Professor Hill’s talk, Temple University board chair Patrick O’Connor stated that “Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is entirely different.” Mr. O’Connor also raised the possibility that the board would sanction Lamont Hill, stating, “We’re going to look at what remedies we have.” However, the board this week issued a statement that reversed Mr. O’Connor’s comments and committed to protecting viewpoint diversity on its campus, no matter how unsettling the board finds the views that are expressed.

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Liberal Arts are ar Risk in Wisconsin

Since the early twentieth century, the University of Wisconsin System’s mission has been to promote the “search for truth.” The robust liberal arts education that flourished in Wisconsin in pursuit of this mission came to be referred to as the “Wisconsin Idea.” In 2015, the state government attempted to replace “search for truth” with a call to “meet the state’s workforce needs.” Despite this motion being rejected, the liberal arts have been in decline. Statewide budget cuts and an administrative emphasis on labor market preparedness have altered the teaching of the liberal arts. Lee Willis, chair of the history department at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, commented, The liberal arts are sort of being asked to line up behind job preparation, rather than studying the liberal arts for the liberal arts’ sake as a public good.” This concerning change is apparent at his own institution: This month, Stevens Point stated that it would be eliminating its majors in geography, geology, French, German, two- and three-dimensional art, and history.

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Calculating the Benefit of Higher Education

A new analysis by the Wall Street Journal illustrates the current financial landscape for college graduates. The study found that “College pays off for most people and costs have been flattening. There are, however, often-overlooked pitfalls that can leave some people worse off than if they hadn’t gone to college.” College graduates in general earn a higher income, live longer, and are healthier than those who only complete high school; however, average student loan debt has continued to soar, especially among students who fail to graduate within six years. Students that default on their loans can end up worse off than those who did not graduate from college. Additionally, college graduates who are under-employed following graduation have a tough time reaching full employment.

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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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