Now higher education wants a federal bailout

Leaders of state colleges and universities have taken out full-page ads in the nation’s newspapers, billed as an “open letter” to the new Obama administration asking for a government bailout. Specifically, they are asking for no less than 5% of all money appropriated for economic recovery.

More than 40 higher-education leaders from across the country asked Congress today to commit 5 percent of any economic stimulus program to the nation’s colleges and universities.

The educators, including University of Virginia President John Casteen III and Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland, published an open letter in newspapers warning that state budget cuts have harmed the public educational enterprise that is at the heart of the nation’s long-term security.

“For the first time in our history, the cohort of Americans ages 25 to 34 is less well educated than the older cohorts that preceded it,” it says. “We cannot accept such dangerous signs that our future prosperity and security will be weaker than our past.”

Let your mind boggle for awhile. As is so typical of a certain kind of administrator, the request is not for anything specific but for a percentage cut of everything! And the argument for doing so is their own failure!

Why are Americans aged 25 to 34 less well-educated than previous generations? Because the education currently being dealt out is so poor! These college presidents have gutted their own curricula, allowed academic classes to be turned into leftist re-education camps, and allowed academic standards of every kind to be thrown out the window.

Here at Patrick Henry College, where I am an academic administrator (also classroom teacher, I hasten to add), we do not even take government money. But, swimming against the stream, we are giving our students a superb education. We have a 75-credit true core curriculum, rich in the great books and the great ideas, academically rigorous and educationally stimulating. Our students learn to read, write, think, discuss, and create. We are no ivory tower. We give our students opportunities to practice their vocation in an apprenticeship program that offers on-the-job experience. The companies and, yes, government agencies that get our students as interns praise their preparation, analytical ability, work ethic, and personality qualities. And standardized tests are showing that our students are out-performing their peers in regular schools in every category!

We too need money, of course, especially since we refuse the government trough and since we want to keep our tuition low and affordable. We have to make it up from private donors. We have some wonderful supporters, but raising the money we need is always a challenge. We need to build up an endowment to support our work permanently. I cannot see why people of means, especially those who are worried about the bad things happening in higher education, do not just throw money at us! If you would consider throwing some money at us, in big amounts or small, as a Christmas gift and as a pre-New Years tax write-off, click here.

(OK, sorry for the commercial. I don’t do that often. I could never be a college president because I hate to ask for money. We will continue with our regularly-scheduled programming.)

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  • The mortgage sector gives out bad loans; let’s bail them out. Homeowners purchase more than they can realistically afford; let’s bail them out. The auto industry screws up; let’s bail them out. Now it’s higher education: they’ve dumbed down and twisted the curriculum, and they need a bailout too!

    An aside (not meaning to hijack the post): I love homeschooling (we did it for the earlier years), I love this blog and the clear thinking it offers on so many topics, and I’m sure Patrick Henry College does an excellent job of educating its students in many fields. But as long as the school requires its science professors to present young-Earth creationism (which is not necessary Biblically and a failure scientifically), then it fails in one area to train students to think critically.

  • What about the insanely huge endowments of schools like Harvard? How about that money be taken for redistribution to other schools? Why not?

    I read once that they are required by tax rules to spend a certain percentage of their endowment and the interest it earns each year. Their endowment is so huge that the minimum amount each year works out to something like $150,000 per year per student at Harvard! And that doesn’t even account for tuition revenue. Where exactly does all that money go? Do they really need to continue to raise money for themselves? Why do you never hear liberals slamming Harvard and its actual hoarding of wealth but oil companies are the boogey man?

  • Peter Leavitt

    The idea of redistributing Harvard’s endowment is almost as bad as redistributing personal income in favor profligate public universities, already slurping at the public trough. Harvard, for all its bureaucratic and intellectual faults, is a great American institution that has been built in large part by generous alumni.

    Patrick Mason, with a solid core curriculum and at least one teaching administrator, deserves much credit. The trouble with most schools and colleges is that they are run by by a proliferating bureaucratic class that has spawned a jungle of proliferating curricula and extra-curricula, causing costs to spiral at a higher rate than inflation.

    Patrick Henry total costs of about $25, 100 are quite reasonable for a private college along with its generous need based financial aid.

  • I think it’s great to know that there are schools out there that have excellent education. Too often we begin to think that every school is doomed to ‘corrupt’ our children. Instead parents need to carefully research and discover what their schools teach and how they teach. I know that this places the emphasis on the parents. But that’s probably where the emphasis should be.

  • Kevin N, our school, small as it is, has no real science program, at least not yet. We do require Biology and Physics as part of our core curriculum. The thing is, despite our small science offerings, when we tested our students with a standardized test–the same ones used by many of these complaining state colleges–our students scored at the top of that scale even in science!

  • Helen

    “The idea of redistributing Harvard’s endowment is almost as bad as redistributing personal income in favor profligate public universities, already slurping at the public trough.” –Mr. Leavitt

    I don’t know where you live, Mr. Leavitt, but have you checked what percentage of its budget your state university currently receives from your state legislature? You might be surprised.

    [State schools were intended to be just that, founded and funded by the state for the state’s citizens.]

    No, Harvard’s endowment shouldn’t be “redistributed” but people with money to give should perhaps rethink where/why they are giving it.

  • What is it with schools that refuse government money? I went to Hillsdale College, which also refuses gov’t funds, and got a superb education. We’re headed to Grove City now and the kids there pay less than $20K per year, get a laptop AND a great education. Dr. Veith is right that it is the quality of education that has gone downhill!

  • Sarah in Maryland has relocated and is no longer in Maryland.

  • Don S

    I affirm, through the personal experience of my daughter’s attendance at PHC, that the school offers a superb education at a very reasonable cost, without any governmental funding. Even though we pay tuition (at two different private colleges), we will be donating to PHC this month, as we do every year. There is no better investment, in my view.

    The funny thing about this latest plea for funding is that higher education is already a huge line item in the federal budget. Besides direct grants, of which there are plenty, for research and otherwise, the government spends billions each year for student grants and loans. These huge subsidies enable colleges and universities to charge much higher prices than they would otherwise be able to, and has caused persistent inflation in the higher education market. The last thing they need is more funding. What they really need is accountability, and the restoration of a market system which forces them to compete for students based on the value of the education they are offering for the tuition they are charging.

  • Kevin N- Young Earth Creationism is biblically necessary and its major compeititor neo-Darwinism fails any logical rational test. It is absurdity on stilts to think that the complexity of life on this planet can be explained by a random process. Since the major universities in this land fail miserably to teach their grads to think critically in this area you can hardly fault Patrick Henry College.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I don’t know where you live, Mr. Leavitt, but have you checked what percentage of its budget your state university currently receives from your state legislature? You might be surprised.

    I happen to live in Massachusetts where I shall continue to contribute substantial amounts as an alumnus of Harvard College and in taxes to the state of Massachusetts that, like most other states, has a bloated state university and college system. If, somehow, the state managed to redistribute Harvard’s endowment, I would find another country to live in.

    I must admit, however, that, following Bill Buckley, I should rather be governed by the first one hundred names in the Boston phone book than the present largely ultra-liberal faculty. I actually have found a way to restrict my Harvard Endowment contributions to conservative causes, especially in relation to the theological faculty.

  • Don S

    Greg @ 11: Well said. Although I would differ to the extent that the earth need not necessarily be young chronologically. I think the Bible clearly mandates 6 days of creation, and alternative views of that timeline are rationalizations. But, there is nothing to say that God didn’t create an aged earth, just as he created Adam as a fully aged man, rather than an infant. So, the earth could appear to be billions of years old, but only have been formed and in place for a few thousand years.

    Kevin N., the problem I see with science in this area is its certainty. Science is supposed to be cautious, and observational. Theories develop based on ordered observations, and then they are tested for validity. In the case of creation, observation is inadequate, because we are limited to an infinitely small timeframe for observation of events that have allegedly occurred over billions of years. Everything else is extrapolation and hypothesis. Hardly the basis to make certain statements about what must have been, using reasonable scientific methodology. So what is wrong with teaching origin science as scientific theory, best guess, etc., and politely allowing for people to have their own religiously-based views, without screaming that their choice not to validate your theories discredits them as scientists? When the scientific community becomes so enamored with its theories that it considers the matter completely settled, and refuses to even consider or entertain opposing viewpoints, it has ceased to be observational in favor of being political.

    I see this same behavior with respect to global warming theory, which legitimate science also has no basis for considering settled.

  • john

    Young earth Creationism may be biblically necessary but it ain’t science Greg. One could argue that the universe is so vast that it is too complex for just one god — there may be many gods.

  • Helen

    Darwinism “ain’t science” John.
    Science is open to new knowledge. If physics and chemistry had frozen in place a couple of centuries ago, we’d still have people thinking the moon was made of green cheese, not having people who’ve been there!

    When Darwin started “supposing” he thought a single cell was a blob of undifferentiated jelly, instead of the complex manufacturing plant we now begin to understand. (At that, we only begin!) The complex cell is not likely to have arisen spontaneously out of the primeval ooze.

  • Bart

    As a student (who just finished his biology course work), I can vouch in some way for the science at PHC. The biology professor is truly a scientist–he’s done real scientific research and interacted with very infulential scientists. Evolution is studied more in depth than I had expected. We treated Darwin charitably. In fact, our professor has heavily researched the new, popular form of taxonomy known as cladistics. It is unfortunate that most young earth Christians do not know or seek to master the predominant taxonomy of biologists today! Regardless, even if PHC requires a young earth creationist for a professor, it still offers a solid natural science course in its core.

  • Don S

    If you discount the story of Adam and Eve, what do you do with the concept of original sin? Without original sin, what do you do with the concept of Christ being the Savior of the world? Once you stop interpreting the Bible literally, you have lost the concept of absolute truth.

    This is why there is such a strong political agenda to elevate natural origins theory over the historic view, based on Scripture, that we were created supernaturally. It is the basis for the dogma that is modern evolutionary theory. Certainly, under ordinary circumstances, no self-respecting scientist would claim to have absolute knowledge of the nature of a process which allegedly occurred over millions of years, based on approximately 100 years of observed data and some fossils.

    The Scopes trial of 1925 has been turned on its head, as today the establishment puts the teacher who dares acknowledge the possibility of a supernatural origin on trial.

    A legitimate scientist knows what he/she does not know.

  • Dr. Veith’s comment about how they’re using their own failure to justify a funding hike speaks volumes about why they’re failing; they are not teaching logic, and it shows everywhere from the arts to biology.

    As Sarah notes, education is not that expensive when you start with the basics.

  • WebMonk

    Just as an aside. A 6000 year earth is by no means Biblically necessary as in no-other-way-to-reasonably-understand-it. There are a number of pretty solid ways to approach it without giving up original sin and all the other things.

    Example: PHC’s previous bio prof was pretty friendly with evolution and an old earth. Ultimately she left (along with a bunch of the other professors) as part of the big disagreement between the then-President and a bunch of the faculty, but evolution part of the rift.

    Anyway, to Sarah – as a GCC grad myself, I can assure you that GCC gives a great education at a phenomenal value. The new buildings are really, really nice too. I graduated before they built all the nicest stuff, but I’ve been back to visit a time or two – I’m VERY envious!

    They don’t take any federal funds, though they do (or at least did) still take state funds. They’ve got a very good donor base which helps them to keep the cost of education down. Their engineering school is very top-notch, as is their music/arts program, and most of their other programs are very good too. I don’t what their avg incoming SAT is now, but it was around 1230 (out of the old 1600 scale) when I went there.

    I highly recommend it. I recommend PHC too, but I’ve never regularly attended classes there.

  • Don S


    I agree with you about the earth’s age, though as I posted above, there is nothing that says the earth couldn’t appear older than it actually is. In fact, it is likely that God would have created it to appear as if it had been there a while. Presumably, there were mature trees and plants, from inception, as well as an abundance of adult animals and two adult humans. Geologic formations were likely also created in place. So, what geologists and other scientists are actually estimating with their dating methods are most probably “apparent age” rather than actual age. No reason why the earth couldn’t appear to be 2 billion years old, while it is actually 10,000 years old.

    As for macro-evolution, this is more problematic. At least with respect to humans, it is a real stretch, on the basis of a relatively meager fossil record and an active imagination, to discard the Genesis account in favor of man being created through a million or more year evolutionary process. That would put impute a lot of assumptions into the verse that God formed man from the dust of the earth. Then you get into whether that man was Adam, and whether he was a transitional creature or modern man. If modern man, what about all of the transitional creatures ahead of him? If we don’t believe he was Adam, then what do we do with original sin? Who was the original sinner? Was there a Garden of Eden? Was it the serpent? Did he evolve as well?

    That’s more stretching than I care to do. I’ll stick with a literal interpretation of the Genesis account.

  • WebMonk

    Don S, there are precious few who agree with your first paragraph, even in the most staunchly Creationist circles. I wouldn’t suggest trying to make that statement to Ken Ham, Russel Humphreys, Henry Morris, or any others.

    In fact I don’t know of a single creationist who holds that position, though I guess I’ve met one in you.

    As far as your second paragraph, you need to do some research. There are a couple of different ways that every one of your questions are answered while still keeping to the truth of Adam’s original sin, the snake, the garden, etc. Just because you can’t imagine them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    I don’t happen to agree with them, but they most certainly are there and they are certainly as solidly founded as some of the other doctrines people may hold to and still be Christian.

  • Don S:

    “A legitimate scientist knows what he/she does not know” – try telling that to the Creationists. They also speak a lot of nonsense, dabble in pseudo-science, and behave in the most appaling fashion, wilfully ignoring facts, misrepresenting theories etc.

    I’m a geologist. I’ve doen geochronology – even manage a geochron lab.

    The “scientific Creationists” and the “Evolutionists” both sit in the same boat – they try to find truth and justify “worldviews” through Rational argument alone. Their boat is an Enlightment fabrication. It is as full of holes as a collander.

    I’m a follower of Popper in my Scientific philosophy. It is more honest that way. I don’t build my faith on rationalism – because any good philosopher can pick a hole in an argument – and then the whole house of cards can come tumbling down.

    We should NOT be children of the Enlightment.

  • #17 said, “If you discount the story of Adam and Eve, what do you do with the concept of original sin? Without original sin, what do you do with the concept of Christ being the Savior of the world?”

    I believe in real sin that is a result of a real Fall by a real Adam, and in Jesus Christ as the only solution for that sin problem. Rejecting young-earth creationism, which goes way beyond anything written in the Word, hasn’t caused me to reject any essential truths of the Scriptures.

    I apologize for starting off these comments with a diversion (creationism rather than the topic at hand: bailouts for higher education). Out of respect for the excellent work Dr. Veith does with this blog, I will try to not do that in the future.

  • Don S

    Webmonk @ 21: Well, I wish I were that unique and creative a thinker, but I’m not. There are a lot of Christians who hold to that view — it just makes sense. If you believe the world was created 10,000 years ago, in a matter of a week, it follows that the geologic formations we see today were largely already in place at creation. There is no reason to believe that God created a flat, featureless earth, and that all of the mountains and canyons, etc. we see today formed naturally during the ensuing period of time. I’m well familiar with the work of Ken Ham, Henry Morris et al., and their theories that the Great Flood of Noah formed the Grand Canyon and many other geologic features, creating in a moment’s time many of the fossils we find today. I think that is quite plausible, but it is not at all at odds with my thoughts. I doubt that those gentlemen would have much of an opinion at all concerning the idea of apparent age because it is not a scientific one — it can neither be proven or disprove by conventional scientific method. Of course, neither can the theory of evolution, which is the whole point. 🙂

    I’ve done the research you reference with regard to my second paragraph. I just don’t buy it. Once you start trying to fit the Bible into current trendy scientific theories, picking and choosing what you are going to take literally, and what you are going to regard as figurative, you are sliding down that proverbial slippery slope. I won’t go there. My worldview is and always will be that the Bible is the ultimate source of truth. We test other thoughts and theories against what the Bible says, not the other way around. In this limited three dimensional world, trapped in a tiny era of time, we cannot possibly know enough to challenge the eternal truth and teachings of the Word of God. And if we think we can, we are foolish, as the Scripture says.

    The Scylding @ 22: I basically agree with you. Faith is not rational, and the things we believe in by faith are unknowable through rational, scientific means. Which is why I detest the closed-minded certainty with which origin and evolutionary theories are propounded. It is nonsense to claim to be so sure, because of scientific method, of events that you have no way of directly observing — pure politics rather than science. Creation scientists do a worthy work in proposing alternative scientific theories to counter the bombast of the evolutionists, and to attempt to present concepts of faith in a manner which the secular world will entertain, but they cannot prove creation by scientific means either.

    Kevin — I am glad that your theory of old earth creationism doesn’t extend to evolution, and that you believe in a real Adam and a real Eve, and original sin in the Garden.

  • WebMonk

    Maybe I’m drastically misunderstanding you, but as I understand what you’re saying, I have yet to find a creationist who agrees with you. Like I said, Ham and all the rest tend to very vociferously disagree with you. God most certainly did not create the world with an “old” feel just for kicks.

    Scattering element isotopes that only can come from a decay chain that takes millions of years to happen just to make the earth “look” old to advanced sensors isn’t something I’ve ever heard anyone even posit. That’s what makes me a bit suspicious about what I’m understanding you to say. I’m probably missing something.

    The argument that Ham and the others use is that scientists misinterpret the data to see an old earth. I’ve never heard of one of them saying the earth could “appear to be 2 billion years old, while it is actually 10,000 years old.”

    I’ll let Kevin speak for himself if he wants, but there certainly are a number of different ways that a full-blown old earth with amoeba-to-man evolution can still include a real Adam and original sin.

  • Don S (#24):

    I didn’t say that I don’t accept evolution, just that I don’t extend it to Adam and Eve and the Fall into sin.

    The Bible doesn’t actually say that evolution cannot occur as part of the marvelous way that God has created the biosphere, and most young-earth creationists advocate faster evolution after the flood (e.g. “dog kind” into wolves, foxes, coyotes, and other dogs in a few thousand years) than evolutionists would say. I’m willing to leave questions of biological evolution up to science and not predetermine the outcome.

  • Don S

    Webmonk @ 25: Yes, you are misunderstanding me — probably because I did not state it well.

    Of course God didn’t create the world to look 2 billion years old just for kicks. Scientists think the world looks 2 billion years old because they take biological and geological theories, including scientific dating methods, which are applicable to the modern age, and have been tested, observed, and verified over periods of hundreds of years, and extrapolate them backwards for billions of years to arrive at their age estimates. They make a huge assumption of linearity, which is not observable or testable, then state it as absolute fact. As an aside, they are doing precisely the same thing with global warming, though on a much more compressed time scale. They are observing climate data over a period of decades, and extrapolating a hundred or more years into the future, without nearly enough data to account for climatological cycles and variant sun activity. So, I agree with creation scientists that these dating methods have not at all been proven to be reliable for the time periods posited for evolution and geologic formation. The data is, in my opinion, being seriously misinterpreted. I believe it is reasonable, for example, to believe that Noah’s Flood seriously accelerated the apparent geological age of the earth, as many creationists believe.

    But, I also believe the earth was created in a relatively mature state. In other words, it already had mountains, canyons, etc. We know that Mount Ararat already existed at the time of the flood, for example, since the ark came to rest on it. So the earth has an “apparent age” which is most likely much greater than its actual age, just as Adam had an “apparent age” of perhaps about 30, when he was actually zero years old. I don’t think that what I am saying is very controversial. It just goes to the point that geologists don’t necessarily know what they are talking about when they are extrapolating far beyond their dimensional expertise. And for folks to reject the literal teachings of the Bible because scientists say, with certitude, that things happened far differently than what the Bible describes is, in my opinion, to accept the foolishness of human wisdom over the absolute truth of God’s Word.

    Kevin N. — so I take it that you believe in evolution post-Adam and Eve? I’m not sure I understand how you are squaring macro-evolution (perhaps you don’t mean macro-evolution, in which case there is no real controversy) with the traditional creation story. In any event, we can save that discussion for another time.

  • Bart

    Scylding, I thought you might like to know that our first week of studying bio @ PHC was devoted to studying Popper, Kuhn, and Lakatos.

  • I’m not all that familiar with Lakatos, but reading Popper and Kuhn makes for a good foundation for a science class (I like Kuhn better than Popper). Neither of them, however, say much about the “historical sciences” such as geology. Historical science works more like forensics, archeology, or even history. The “experiment” has already been run in nature, and the job of the scientist in this case is to decipher the evidence to figure out what the experiment was. Most philosophers of science are stuck in the world of chemistry and physics and don’t think much about this type of scientific thinking.

  • Don S:

    I’ll leave macroevolution vs. microevolution as a primarily scientific rather than theological issue. But I don’t think we have to rule out macroevolution on Biblical grounds. Think about it: What Biblical grounds do you have for rejecting macroevolution (at least for the 99.99999% of organisms other than humans)? This seems to be based entirely on organisms reproducing after their “kinds” in Genesis 1. Whether one is discussing microevolution or macroevolution, each individual organism is reproducing after its kind, and the genetic makeup of a population changes over time. The Bible doesn’t place a limit on how much the gene pool of a population can change. Perhaps there is a limit, but it isn’t dictated by Scriptures.

  • Don S

    Kevin N:

    I actually don’t rule out that possibility. My bottom line is this — in the realms of earth origin and human origin, science starts with a false assumption. It rules out supernatural causation and assumes natural causation. Thus, the collected data is, in my opinion, mis-interpreted to fit the false assumption. I believe, based on my understanding of the Bible, that the earth, and life, were supernaturally created, after which natural laws were established by God to keep its systems operational. Extrapolations based on scraps of data collected over a 100 year period, and predicated on a false assumption that natural physical laws are valid back to the inception of the earth, have a very high potential to lead to false conclusions. This problem is exacerbated when scientists are also dealing with personal humanistic biases and political biases which lean toward finding a natural explanation of origin which will exclude or minimize the possibility of a Superior Creator.

    So, especially since I am not a biologist, I cannot actually exclude the possibility of macroevolution post-creation (i.e. since Adam), with respect to species development. But I wouldn’t accept it as a credibile theory of origin.