Press Releases | Civic Literacy

ACTA Testifies in Favor of New Civic Centers at OSU and the University of Toledo

May 18, 2023

Today, representatives from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) testified before the OhioSenate Workforce and Higher Education Committee in support of Senate Bill 117. Co-sponsored by Senators Jerry C. Cirino and Rob McColley, the bill would establish the Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture, and Society at The Ohio State University and the Institute of American Constitutional Thought and Leadership at the University of Toledo. ACTA Senior Program Officer Nick Down and ACTA Board Member Mark Ridenour were both witnesses before the committee.  

“Let us be clear: Ignorance and contempt for our freedoms and civic institutions go hand in hand,” Mr. Down stated. “Those who do not understand the value of freedom, or the price paid to guard it, will not have the will to foster and defend it. We have not seen remedies coming from existing university departments. It is noteworthy that at The Ohio State University and the University of Toledo—the two institutions that would be privileged through SB 117 to receive state funding—a student could graduate with a major in history without taking a course on the history of the United States.” 

Mr. Ridenour, who is a graduate of Miami University and previously served as chairman of its board of trustees, described the new civic centers as a “gift to Ohio and to the nation.” He remarked, “When those who answer to the public recognize the need for new programs and new academic requirements, they are acting in accord with shared governance and academic freedom. I say bravo to Senators Cirino and McColley for sponsoring this bill.”  

Since 1995, ACTA has advocated on behalf of high academic standards, accountability, and the free exchange of ideas at our nation’s four-year public and private colleges and universities. We have long sounded the alarm about our country’s crisis of civic illiteracy, and our report Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century, published in 2000, inspired Congress to pass a joint resolution calling for a national response. Unfortunately, the trend of civic ignorance has only worsened in the past two decades. If enacted, Senate Bill 117 would be a significant, positive step toward remedying a matter of bipartisan concern.

Nick Down’s complete statement can be read here.

Mark Ridenour’s complete statement can be read here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gabrielle Anglin
PHONE: (202) 798-5425


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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