Free Dartmouth
3/27/2005 09:36:00 PM | Timothy

On Trustee Candidate Engles
Alumni Council nominated Trustee candidate Gregg Engles '79 has sent out his first campaigning email. (If you didn't receive it, it's over here on dartlog)

The first thing to note is that it provides an articulated defense of what I think is the administration's position on the 'research university' accusation. There is thinly veiled criticism of Wright for saying 'research university' but I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that he essentially agrees with Wright. The basic position of Engles seems to be that the Ph.D. programs we have are in the Sciences, we need these and modern research facilities in order to get the best professors, and hence the best teachers. Furthermore, we need the best professors, and part of who is the best teacher is who has a research record. Whether you agree with this position, it seems at odds with the attacks on Dartmouth for not focusing on its traditional mission of providing the best undergraduate education. It purports to be a defense of how to provide that education.

Let's go the rest of the Engles' email. As for as the second half of Engles' email, I think Voices in the Wilderness is basically right. (Again, see dartlog for a highlighted version of the letter) I'll add more of what I think later. Let me just say for now: $%^##@

Engles says "There are always two sides to the issues." No, that's not true. I don't mean sometimes there is only one side. I mean there is often three or more sides. Engles writes later that "No one even notices when a poll shows Ivy League professors support one political point of view by 84% to 16 % (link to website)." Um... I hate to say it, but 84% of the professors do not represent one political point of view (As I said, there are more than *two* sides to every issue. I assume Engles mean these 84% are democrats. It is not black and white, democrats versus republicans. I really hate when people looking for balance pretend the 'left' and 'liberals' are monolithic. There sure aren't many members of the socialist party at Dartmouth (compared to the other two at the very least). Why isn't Engles concerned about that? Is he too lost in his 'group think' to not notice that? Or does he not care? Here's what is comes down to: it is not a plea for diversity, but a plea for a balance. But any balance needs a 'center'. And where does Engles want to draw the center? Presumably to match the political affilations of the public at large. And why? Who knows.

Engles says "Because whether you're liberal or conservative, the issues can't be fully vetted, nor positions or thoughts honed, if you have no worthy advocate on the other side with whom to match wits." Is the assumption here is that only liberals and conservatives are worthy participants in a debate? A green cannot have an interesting debate with a liberal? Or a 'neocon' with a 'paleocon'? And if you see my point here, do you need all four in the debate? Does the absence of one automatically makes for a weak debate? I'm skeptical that what Engles says must be true. I'm not willing to say that it *must* be the case that any good 'debating society' must represent merely the political affiliations of the public at large. If anything, I think you need a large diversity of views.

Engles says "I believe the College is losing its ability to educate its students in a balanced way about the most important issues of our time."

Engles himself makes the following ad hominem attack: "The faculty selects and weeds out their own in the hiring and tenure process. They tend to support their own as they move into the administration. The process reinforces and concentrates, often silently, certain attitudes and philosophical tendencies in the institution." What, I'm wondering, does Engles want to do about this? He seems to indicate he will work hard to convince faculty (e.g. moral sausion). If that's all he means, that's not a big deal. But if he means that faculty decisions to hire should be taken away from faculty, this is a big deal.

Engles' letter does not evidence great subtlety. Dare I suggest that it is really a product of what he calls 'groupthink'. Maybe he has not approached the right 'other side' to give him the 'balance' and other perspective he clearly needs. Basically, I do not think that academia should automatically be centered and recentered like they are an SAT scoring grid.

(I should add however, that as a teacher, I do believe in fostering 'both sides' of the debate; though 'both sides' is inaccurate, I think that 'all sides' is even more inaccurate given the limitations of the classroom)

Links to this post:

Create a Link


Post a Comment

The Free Press

Alums for Social Change
The Green Magazine
The Dartmouth
Dartmouth Observer
Dartmouth Review
Inner Office
The Little Green Blog
Welton Chang's Blog
Vox in Sox
MN Publius (Matthew Martin)
Dartmouth Official News

Other Blogs

Arts & Letters
Body and Soul
Blog For America
Brad DeLong
Brad Plumer
Campus Nonsense
Crooked Timber
Daily Kos
Dean Nation
Dan Drezner
The Front Line
Interesting Times
Is That Legal?
Talking Points Memo
Lawrence Lessig
Lean Left
Legal Theory
Matthew Yglesias
Ms. Musings
Nathan Newman
New Republic's &c.
Not Geniuses
Political State Report
Political Theory Daily Review
Queer Day
Roger Ailes
Talk Left
This Modern World
Tough Democrat
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Note
X. & Overboard

Magazines, Newspapers and Journals
Boston Globe Ideas
Boston Review
Chronicle of Higher Education
Common Dreams
In These Times
Mother Jones
New York Review of Books
New York Times
The American Prospect
The Nation
The New Republic
The Progressive
Tom Paine
Village Voice
Washington Monthly

Capitol Hill Media
ABC's The Note
American Journalism Review
Columbia Journalism Review
Daily Howler
Donkey Rising
The Hill
National Journal
NJ Hotline
NJ Wake-up call
NJ Early Bird
NJ Weekly
Political Wire
Roll Call

Search the DFP
Powered by Blogger

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Dartmouth College or the Dartmouth Free Press.