Zywicki on Higher Education Reform

Speaking at the 2007 Pope Center Conference, Professor Todd Zywicki likened what he terms academia's "new dogma" to the Spanish Inquisition.

The October conference included both speakers and guests who actively participate in varied attempts to alter higher education's path.

Zywicki's speech centered on the types of barriers erected to preclude the election of independent alumni to trusteeships at colleges and universities, as well as attempts to minimize the power of those candidates once elected.

Zywicki himself has been at the center of a struggle over trusteeships that is currently playing itself out at Dartmouth College.

Storming the Academic Fortress, Leland Tribune News, November 14, 2007. By Jay Schalin.

"Zywicki's speech addressed the barriers erected to prevent independent alumni from becoming trustees at Dartmouth, and the subsequent attempts to dilute the power of the independent trustees once those barriers fell. The schools board of trustees has historically been divided between elected and appointed members. Currently there are eight of each. Procedures and entrenched interests have consistently produced trustees that rubber-stamp the 'dogma-driven' agenda of the left-leaning faculty, according to Zywicki. There is one alternative path: an independent 'petition' candidate can be elected, but the aspiring trustee first must get 500 alumni signatures to get placed on the ballot. Such candidates were extremely rare until recently, Zywicki said. In the past, producing all the signatures was an 'insuperable hurdle, because the college wouldn't give you mailing lists.'

"Starting in 2004, with the Internet enabling rapid-fire communications among alumni, four reform-minded petition candidates were elected in short order, including Zywicki. The rest of the board, however, dug in their heels at this intrusion. They added eight appointed seats, thus 'breaching the principle of parity' that was the system's original intent, according to Zywicki.

'They couldn't win at the ballot box, so they got rid of the ballot box,' he continued. Yet the established trustees' efforts went for naught. The threat of a lawsuit by an alumni organization forced the board to postpone any changes to the board's composition. Despite their minority status, Zywicki said, he and his cohorts have managed to start dismantling Dartmouth's 'social engineering' agenda, including forcing repeal of the (politically correct) speech code."

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