Peter Berkowitz, writing in RealClearPolitics:
Dear Members of the Board:
I read with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation the unexpected announcement earlier this month that President Rebecca Chopp is departing Swarthmore to become the chancellor of the University of Denver.
Anticipation because as a grateful graduate of Swarthmore, I can’t help but view the hiring of a new president as an opportunity for the school to rededicate itself to the true mission of liberal education, which is to prepare students for the rights and responsibilities of freedom by furnishing and refining their minds. Trepidation because I fear that Swarthmore’s next president will lead the college further down the path of politicized research and curriculum that has become the hallmark of our finest colleges and universities.
It is your responsibility to form a search committee and oversee the process by which the college chooses its next president. You would not be serving on the board if you were not men and woman of substantial accomplishments and if you did not love Swarthmore. But I worry that your fond memories of the liberal education you received will thwart your understanding of what liberal education has become. And I fear that you will give inordinate weight to the assessment of today’s professors and administrators in judging Swarthmore’s current condition.
Today’s educators cannot be counted on to provide an accurate evaluation. In February, I saw a dramatic illustration of their obliviousness while attending a Swarthmore symposium on the future of the liberal arts. It was as if I had entered a time warp.