The ad hit the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday.
The University of Colorado at Boulder is looking for a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy. Chancellor Philip DiStefano disputed criticism that this move was either a sop to politically powerful conservatives or a strategy to hire one “token” conservative on a liberal campus.
The original plan to fund a full Chair has been scaled back to a three-year pilot program to bring in prominent visiting scholars, according to a school news release. The program hopes to bring in a prominent intellectual, not necessarily an academic, to provoke intellectual ferment on the beautiful mountain campus. Will it work?
As we’ve discussed here recently, the notion that many public universities have been captured by the cultural, intellectual, and political left resonates strongly with many conservatives. But we’ve also noticed that such “secular” universities are also often home to many conservative students and faculty.
Whatever the true purpose for this new program, I can’t wait to see who takes the job. Would a young-earth creationist–no matter how distinguished–be considered intellectually respectable enough? Or, if a young-earth thinker lays beyond the pale, could someone such as Alvin Plantinga or Darrel Falk fit the bill? Or would the campus powers-that-be prefer a more secular thinker? How about Paul Gottfried?
Though the university insists it would be open to a scholar as well as an activist, it seems they would prefer someone who speaks as a conservative, not just about conservatism. That’s too bad. Some of the most interesting university interactions might come from hiring a scholar of whatever personal beliefs, someone whose work illuminates conservatism in America. Maybe someone like George Marsden? Or Ron Numbers?
We’ll be watching to see what shakes out with this position. Who do you think it should go to? For those conservatives and scholars of conservatism out there, would you want the job?