Category Archives: Uncategorized

Notable & Quotable: Donald Kagan

‘Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy.’

Aug. 12, 2021 6:30 pm ET

Historian Donald Kagan. Photo: Yale/Michael Marsland

From the Journal’s April 27, 2013, Weekend Interview with historian Donald Kagan, who died Aug. 6 at 89:

For his “farewell lecture” here at Yale . . . the 80-year-old scholar . . . uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.

Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. . . . He counseled schools to adopt “a common core of studies” in the history, literature and philosophy “of our culture.” . . .

This might once have been called incitement. In 1990, as dean of Yale College, Mr. Kagan argued for the centrality of the study of Western civilization in an “infamous” (his phrase) address to incoming freshmen. A storm followed. He was called a racist—or as the campus daily more politely editorialized, a peddler of “European cultural arrogance.”

The DOJ Says Yale Discriminated by Race in Undergrad Admissions. Here’s What You Need to Know.

The DOJ Says Yale Discriminated by Race in Undergrad Admissions. Here’s What You Need to Know.

The Justice Department says white and Asian-American applicants were rejected based on race but Yale’s president called the allegation baseless


The Justice Department said Yale University had discriminated against Asian-American and white undergraduate applicants, concluding a nearly two-year investigation into the school’s admissions practices.

1. The DOJ wants Yale to stop using race as an admissions factor.

After reviewing hundreds of admissions decisions, the department said in a letter to Yale that Asian-American and white students have one-tenth to one-fourth the likelihood of being admitted as African-American applicants with comparable academic credentials, and that the university must agree to end its use of race as an admissions factor within two weeks or face a lawsuit.

2. The Trump administration is attempting to challenge the consideration in selective colleges’ admissions decisions.

The Justice Department’s move marks an escalation of these efforts. Four decades of Supreme Court precedents support universities’ consideration of an applicant’s race, in a limited fashion, when putting together their undergraduate classes. Schools say diverse campuses have educational benefits, like better preparing students for the global workforce.

3. Yale says it won’t change its processes.

The school says it relies on a holistic review of applicants, including academics, leadership experience, backgrounds and more. Yale president Peter Salovey called the Justice Department’s allegation baseless, adding that “the DOJ concluded its investigation before reviewing and receiving all the information it has requested.” He said the school won’t change its processes “because the DOJ is seeking to impose a standard that is inconsistent with existing law.”

4. Nearly half of Yale’s class of 2023 identifies as white.

Just under 26% of the class identified as Asian-American, and 49.3% identified as white. Another 11.8% identified as African-American, 15% as Hispanic, 3% as Native American and 9.5% as international, according to the university. Because students self-reported and some identified as multiple ethnicities, the percentages don’t add up to 100%.

Read the whole story

Yale Discriminated by Race in Undergraduate Admissions, Justice Department Says

Alumni for Excellence

by Thomas HoodJUL 12, 2020/0 Comments

I fear I have been blinded for a period of years by my institutional affection and great memories from noticing what appear to be some disturbing long-term trends at Yale. The much-publicized recent campus culture issue involving hate speech vs. freedom of speech and similar matters of a quasi-political nature are only marginally related, if at all, to these concerns. below (shaded area) is a piece put together last year by Yale Alumni For Excellence, using credible publicly-available sources.  It summarizes some alarming statistics indicating a degree of deterioration in the quality of Yale’s educational mission; simply stated Yale is lagging behind its peer institutions.

Responsibility for Yale’s educational mission is vested in the board of the Corporation and there are six Alumni Fellows, one elected each year for a six year term. In theory these Fellows represent Yale’s alumni.

However, this election process is structured to preserve the status quo. The Corporation selects two candidates each year for alumni to vote on, but there is no disclosure as to how these candidates were chosen, where they stand on issues important to Yale, or what they hope to accomplish.

The process for alumni to put their own candidate on the ballot is torturous. By getting signatures from 4,400 alums from now until October 1, 2020, a candidate will then be on the ballot for Alumni Fellow in May 2021.

Victor Ashe ’67, is seeking the position of Alumni Fellow through this petition process. Among other things, he has pledged to work to make this whole process and the actions of the Yale Corporation more transparent.

You can see Victor’s impressive background and learn more about these issues at his website:

A networking campaign has been organized to help Victor collect the signatures he needs between now and October 1, 2020. As a member of the network, I would like your support.  You can sign the petition easily online here (or download the form provided there, sign it and mail it).

If you are as concerned as I have become about these trends at our beloved alma mater, please also consider volunteering to help Victor  overcome the unfair petition process.  Details and signup form are on his website here.

Please consider active participation in this important, perhaps watershed, campaign.


Recent activities at Yale raise serious questions about the University’s future. It seems that not a month goes by without yet another negative report. As alumni, it gives us no pleasure to discuss these developments, but they are impossible to ignore. The uncomfortable truth is that Yale is falling behind its peers in many areas.


  • The 2019 FAS Senate Research and Scholarly Excellence Report revealed that “69 percent of tenured faculty members said they do not believe that their respective department ranks within the top five in their respective fields among institutions of higher education” and “just 1 .8% said their department was the clear leader in its field.”
  • Faculty salaries lag behind peer institutions by 13%.
  • According to the FAS Senate, the administration has ignored these concerns.


  • Yale is the undisputed Ivy League heavyweight champion of bureaucracy, with 81 .8 bureaucrats per 1 1000 students (compared to, for example, 45.2 per 1 ,000 students at Harvard). In fact, Yale seems to be closing in on the national championship of bureaucracy: Out of 1 ,622 colleges and universities surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, only four had more bureaucrats per student than Yale.
  • From 1 995-96 to 201 6-1 7, Yale’s managerial and professional staff increased by 77.25%, compared to a 10.44% increase in service and maintenance staff.
  • Despite this vast bureaucracy, Yale was caught up in the recent national bribery scandal in admissions, indicating an embarrassing failure of oversight.


  • Yale’s alumni giving rate of 28.3% is lower than Stanford’s, lower than MIT’s, and lower than all but one of its Ivy League peers. (Yale Daily News, citing U.S. News & World Report)
  • In a recent survey of alumni leaders, 63% of those who expressed an opinion said that alumni have become less enthusiastic about donating to Yale in recent years.


  • Yale seems increasingly hostile to freedom of speech, to unfettered inquiry, and to heterodox opinions.
  • Yale’s free speech policy, articulated in the Woodward Report in 1 975, is first rate. But principles matter when they are tested, and the Woodward Report now seems to be a hollow promise. Following the embarrassments of 201 5, Yale hardly seems committed to “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.”
  • According to the Yale Daily News, 75% of students “believe Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues.”


  • The cost of tuition, room, and board has soared to $72,100, more than doubling in less than twenty years and far outpacing inflation.

Where did this money go, if not to the University’s core academic mission? As other commitments consume ever larger amounts of the budget, investments in faculty, students, and academic pursuits are paying the price. This trajectory is unsustainable and a new direction is necessary.

Richard Gilder

Richard Gilder

His ideas and philanthropy helped to revive New York and Central Park.

By May 15, 2020 6:53 pm ET

Dick Gilder and Lois Chiles attend the Central Park Conservancy Hat Luncheon on May 2, 2018. Photo: Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Zuma Press

At a moment when New York City is facing an historic challenge from the novel coronavirus, it is worth remembering Richard Gilder, who did much to pull the city out of the economic and social crises of the 1970s and 1980s. Unmasking the Michael Flynn UnmaskersSubscribe

Dick Gilder, who died at 87 of congestive heart failure in Virginia this week, was a native New Yorker and an impatient optimist. He dropped out of Yale Law School because he found the law’s pace too slow. He preferred life in the financial markets, founding the brokerage firm, Gilder, Gagnon, Howe & Co. There he discovered his calling—not making money, which he did, but using his money to solve civic problems.

One of the biggest, literally, sat outside his windows in the 1970s: Central Park. New York’s magnificent park had become something of a wasteland in the 1970s when the city was in a financial crisis.

Donating $17 million of his own money, Gilder put in motion an idea that became the Central Park Conservancy, to this day a model of private-public partnership, which revived and still sustains Central Park as a city jewel. He later became chairman of the then-stodgy New-York Historical Society and transformed it into one of the city’s most dynamic cultural destinations.

Gilder was an enthusiastic believer in the benefits of private markets and private enterprise. He kept his politics out of the cultural institutions he helped, but he understood that successful political ideas also needed institutional support to survive.

He became an active supporter and chairman of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which produced many proposals in the 1980s to pull New York City out of a cycle of social decay and crime. At the center of Gilder’s ideas was the belief that strong economic growth was the indispensable instrument of prosperity. So in 1999 he co-founded the aptly named Club for Growth, a political action committee dedicated to promoting political ideas that enhanced the possibility of economic growth and its social and cultural benefits.

The simple reality is that Dick Gilder all his life was his own club for growth. His hometown, New York City, benefited enormously from Gilder’s vision of putting free-market ideas in the service of sustainable civic renewal.

Emerging from the social and economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, New York again faces a difficult future, as it did in the 1970s. We hope the city can still nurture and promote those who remember and revive the Gilder legacy of letting private interests produce public good. It works.

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How Epidemics Change Civilizations

Measures developed for the plagues of the 14th century are helping authorities fight the coronavirus now, says Yale historian Frank Snowden.


Jason Willick

March 27, 2020 7:06 pm ET

To put the coronavirus pandemic in perspective, consider what happened when the bubonic plague struck London in 1665. The onset of the disease could be sudden, says Yale historian Frank Snowden: “You actually have people afflicted and in agony in public spaces.” Trade and commerce swiftly shut down, and “every economic activity disappeared.” The city erected hospitals to isolate the sick. “You have the burning of sulfur in the streets—bonfires to purify the air.”

Some 100,000 Londoners—close to a quarter of the population, equivalent to two million today—died. Some sufferers committed suicide by “throwing themselves into the Thames,” Mr. Snowden says. “Such was their horror at what was happening to their bodies, and the excruciating pain of the buboes”—inflamed lymph nodes—that are the classic symptom of the bubonic plague. Social order broke down as the authorities fled. “Death cart” drivers went door to door, collecting corpses for a fee and sometimes plundering the possessions of survivors.

The plague’s violent assaults on European cities in the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods created “social dislocation in a way we can’t imagine,” says Mr. Snowden, whose October 2019 book, “Epidemics in Society: From the Black Death to the Present”—a survey of infectious diseases and their social impact—is suddenly timely.

I interviewed Mr. Snowden, 73, over Skype. We’re both home in lockdown, I in California and he in Rome, where he’s gone to do research in the Vatican archives. In the mid-14th century, Italy was “the most scourged place in Europe with the Black Death,” he notes. In the 21st century, it’s among the countries hardest hit by Covid-19.

Science has consigned the plague, caused by the flea- and rat-borne bacterium Yersinia pestis, to the margins of public-health concern (though it remains feared as a potential aerosolized bioweapon). Yet its legacy raises challenging questions about how the coronavirus might change the world.

For all the modern West’s biomedical prowess, some of its blunt tools against a poorly understood disease are similar to what was first attempted in the 14th century. Take quarantine. Hundreds of millions of Americans and Europeans are isolated in their homes in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Isolation as a defense against infectious disease originated in the city-states of Venice and Florence. Italy was the center of Mediterranean trade, and the plague arrived in 1347 on commercial ships. The dominant theory at the time was “miasmatism”—the atmosphere was poisoned—perhaps by visitors’ garments—and people get sick “when they breathe that in, or absorb it through their pores,” Mr. Snowden says. “That is, there is some emanation, and it can be thought to be coming from the soil, or from the bodies” of sick people.

After plague visitations, the Venetian navy eventually began to force sailors arriving at the harbor to disembark on a nearby island, where they remained for 40 days—quaranta—a duration chosen for its biblical significance. The strategy worked when it was enforced as disease-ridden fleas died out and the sick died or recovered. Mr. Snowden notes that Americans returning from Wuhan, China, in early February were “detained on army bases for a quarantine period”—14 days rather than 40.

“We can see the roots of many aspects of modern health already in the Renaissance,” he adds. Another example is the wax “plague costume” worn by physicians. It resembled modern-day medical garb—“the protective garments that you see in the hospital for people dealing with Ebola, or this sort of space suit”—but with a long beak containing resonant herbs. They were thought to “purify the air that you were breathing in.” The costume “did, in fact, have some protective value,” Mr. Snowden says, because the wax repelled the fleas that carried the disease.

Antiplague efforts dramatically changed Europeans’ relationship to government. “The Florentines established what were called health magistrates, which are the ancestors of what today we call boards of health or departments of health,” Mr. Snowden explains. “Endowed with special legal powers,” they coordinated plague countermeasures.

The plague was more traumatic than a military assault, and the response was often warlike in its ferocity. One response was a “sanitary cordon,” or encircling of a city-state with soldiers, who didn’t allow anyone in or out. “Imagine one’s own city, and suddenly, in the morning, it’s cordoned off by the National Guard with fixed bayonets and helmets on, and orders to shoot if we cross,” Mr. Snowden says. Cordons were regularly imposed in European cities in times of plague risk, leading to terror and violence. In the 18th century, the Austrian army was “deployed to prevent bubonic plague from moving up the Balkan Peninsula and into Western Europe” by halting travelers who might be carrying it.

The sociologist Charles Tilly (1929-2008) famously argued that “war makes the state”—that borders and bureaucracies were forged by necessity in military conflict. Plague had similar effects, requiring “military commitment, administration, finance and all the rest of it,” Mr. Snowden says. In addition to a navy to enforce quarantines, “you needed to have a police power,” a monopoly on force over a wide area. Sometimes “watchmen were stationed outside the homes of people who had the plague, and no one was allowed in or out.”

Yet while the plague saw power move up from villages and city-states to national capitals, the coronavirus is encouraging a devolution of authority from supranational units to the nation-state. This is most obvious in the European Union, where member states are setting their own responses. Open borders within the EU have been closed, and some countries have restricted export of medical supplies. The virus has heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, as Beijing tries to protect its image and Americans worry about access to medical supply chains.

The coronavirus is threatening “the economic and political sinews of globalization, and causing them to unravel to a certain degree,” Mr. Snowden says. He notes that “coronavirus is emphatically a disease of globalization.” The virus is striking hardest in cities that are “densely populated and linked by rapid air travel, by movements of tourists, of refugees, all kinds of businesspeople, all kinds of interlocking networks.”

The social dynamics of a pandemic are determined partly by who is most affected. Cholera, for example, “is famously associated with social and class tensions and turmoil,” Mr. Snowden says. A vicious gastrointestinal infection, it was most prevalent in crowded urban tenements with contaminated food or water. “We could pick Naples, or we could pick New York City in the 19th century,” he says. “Municipal officials, the authorities, the doctors, the priests, the middle classes, the wealthy, who live in different neighborhoods, are not succumbing to this disease.” That led to conspiracy theories about its origin, and to working-class riots.

Similarly, the bubonic plague struck India, then a British colony, in the late 19th century. The British responded by introducing Renaissance-era antiplague measures—“very draconian exercises of power and authority, but by a colonial government, over the native population,” Mr. Snowden says. “The population of India regarded this as more fearful than the plague itself” and resisted. Britain, worried that “this would be the beginning of modern Indian nationalism,” backed off the measures, which were mostly ineffective anyway.

Respiratory viruses, Mr. Snowden says, tend to be socially indiscriminate in whom they infect. Yet because of its origins in the vectors of globalization, the coronavirus appears to have affected the elite in a high-profile way. From Tom Hanks to Boris Johnson, people who travel frequently or are in touch with travelers have been among the first to get infected.

That has shaped the political response in the U.S., as the Democratic Party, centered in globalized cities, demands an intensive response. Liberal professionals may also be more likely to be able to work while isolated at home. Republican voters are less likely to live in dense areas with high numbers of infections and so far appear less receptive to dramatic countermeasures.

DoD’s New Marching Orders: Fail Fast

By Walter Pincus (Y’54)

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on national security-related topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won an Emmy in 1981 and the 2010 Arthur Ross Award from the American Academy for Diplomacy.

OPINION — Speedy U.S. development of hypersonic missiles, a new space-based, lower orbit, sensor layer to defend against Russian or Chinese hypersonic weapons, and inclusion of nuclear hypersonic weapons in any extension with Russia of the New START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty]  were priorities for 2020 and 2021 as laid out by the new Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on January 17.

Hyten called for taking risks in developing new weapons and defensive systems, while complaining that at the Pentagon “We try to study the heck out of it to get to the perfect answer before we start something.”

A week later, on January 24, also at CSIS, Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed the same theme, saying “The department nearly doubled its long-term investment, almost $5 billion more in fiscal year 2020, for hypersonic weapons alone over the next five years. And our FY 2021 budget will be even stronger.”

Esper said a four-month, defense-wide review had led to reforms saving $5 billion in part by “divesting from legacy systems and lower-priority activities…We will use these savings to drive progress on critical technologies like artificial intelligence and hypersonic missiles.”

Hyten used North Korea’s missile program as an example of going fast in developing weapons. He pointed out that as one of the poorest countries in the world (115th economy out of 192) North Korea “developed a ballistic missile program that can threaten its neighbors and threaten the United States, and a nuclear program that can threaten its neighbors and the United States.”

“You look at Kim Jong-un,” Hyten said, “but then you look at his father and his grandfather, there are some significant differences…His grandfather launched, I think, nine; his father, I think, launched 22 during their entire tenure. Kim Jong-un has launched 67. He’s launched over a dozen in 2016, 2017, and 2019; didn’t launch anything in 2018.

“If you want to go fast in the missile business,” Hyten said, “you need to test fast, fly fast, learn fast.”

Again, Esper highlighted the same idea saying, “Across the force, we’re working to shed our risk-averse culture and establish an ecosystem where experimentation is incentivized, and innovation is rewarded.”

Hyten described the U.S. as “the leading software nation in the world,” but said Defense Department building software was “a nightmare.” America’s private software companies move fast, while Hyten said the statutory requirements that drive Pentagon acquisitions and contracting are for “an industrial-age model, not an information-age model.”

He said, “We have to allow people to take risk and delegate the responsibilities to people that are executing programs. We don’t train people how to buy things anymore. We train people how to get programs through the Pentagon and through the Congress.”

Esper again re-emphasized that point recalling while he was Army secretary, “the cycle we were trying to do in the Army, where you test, you fail; you test again, you succeed a little bit more; you test again, you succeed a lot; until you get it right. It has to be iterative. And so I think we have to work at the culture at the end of the day.”

Hyten used the cyber threat as his example saying, “As soon as you hit that day one, tomorrow you’re already out-of-date. Tomorrow you’re out-of-date. Not five years from now. Tomorrow you’re out-of-date. So how do I move fast in that structure? I think you have to, basically, go back to a threat-based view of the world, say here’s a threat.”

An engineer who has specialized in aircraft, missiles and space weaponry, Hyten said, “We were ahead in hypersonics a decade ago. We had two programs, two flights, the HTV-1

and HTV-2 [2011] under DARPA. They didn’t quite work. What did we do after they failed? We instituted multiyear studies into the failure process and then canceled the programs.”

Instead, Hyten said, “Why can’t the United States learn how to accept failure? We need to understand what failure is and learn from those failures, learn from the mistakes that we make, move quickly from those mistakes.”

When tragic accidents happen, like what happened to the U.S. space shuttles and human lives are involved, Hyten said, you have to take time, “because you can’t risk human life. But if you don’t have human life involved, you have to figure out how to go fast – how to adjust, how to – how to learn, how to launch quickly, how to move fast.”

Esper talked about the Trump National Defense Strategy “prioritizing China first and Russia second in this era of great-power competition…[and] trying to use emerging technologies to alter the landscape of power and reshape the world in their favor, and often at the expense of others.”

Hyten added another element, saying, “Everything that happens in China, every technology in China, is available for the military use. There’s not this separation like you see in the West, like the separation that you see in the United States. It’s very, very tied together.”

Both Esper and Hyten talked about the need for new cooperative efforts between the Pentagon and industry, with the Defense Secretary saying, “There are things we must do in order to work more closely with our nation’s innovators to become a better customer and to partner in more effective ways.”

Hyten discussed the new problem of defense against Russian hypersonic missiles saying, “If you can’t see it, you can’t defend against it. If you can’t see it, you can’t deter it either.” He ruled out ground-based radars saying too many would be needed on Pacific islands or along the U.S. east coast. The answer, he said, comes down to “medium-earth orbit or low-earth orbit” sensors, or what’s known as the Space Sensor Layer.”

Hyten claimed, “We’re studying the heck out of it, when actually what we need to say…Now there’s all kinds of sensors that are out there. Put the sensors on some satellites, fly them cheap, fly them fast, see what they can do, and then figure out what you need to actually go build.”

On arms control, Hyten said, “New START is a good thing…because it gives you a number [of deployed Russian warheads and delivery systems]…It also gives you insight into the Russian nuclear forces because of the verification regime that’s on the New START Treaty. Those are very, very important issues.”

But Hyten added his belief that an extension should include not just Russia’s new nuclear weapons like hypersonic cruise missiles and nuclear torpedoes, but also their tactical weapons. His reasoning, “Because [their] employment will not be tactical. That employment will be strategic. And it will be responded to in a strategic way.” He also said talks should begin with China, whose strategic nuclear arsenal although small is growing.

Discussions on extending START are underway “not just in the [Defense}] Department, but in the interagency and in the White House,” Hyten said, adding, “I won’t tell you exactly the discussions that are going on, but those are the pieces of the puzzle.”

Hyten also took time to complain about the privatized housing problem facing military families, suicide prevention, taking care of children with special needs, personnel with mental health issues and sexual assault, where he said the numbers “are going the wrong way.”

Hyten announced he was going to hire a special assistant to “look at our people and families…and we’re going to get after all these people and family programs to make sure that we are taking care of our most precious resource.”

Read more national security insights, perspectives and analysis in The Cipher Brief

Top Colleges in the Northeast for Student Outcomes

Harvard and Princeton top the regional list for this category in the WSJ/THE College Rankings

Harvard University was one of seven Ivy League schools in the top 10 colleges in the Northeast for student outcomes. Photo: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Jan. 15, 2020 11:06 am ET

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The top 10 colleges in the Northeast for student outcomes include six that made the top 10 nationwide for the category in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.

Harvard University and Princeton University tied for the top ranking in outcomes both in the Northeast and nationally, with Yale University placing third in the region and nationwide. They are followed in the Northeast ranking by the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University and Dartmouth College, all of which are in the top 10 nationally for outcomes.

The WSJ/THE rankings emphasize how well a college will prepare students for life after graduation. The overall ranking is based on 15 factors across four main categories: Forty percent of each school’s overall score comes from student outcomes, including measures of graduate salaries and debt burdens, 30% from the school’s academic resources, 20% from how well it engages its students and 10% from its diversity.

Explore the Full Rankings

You can filter the WSJ/THE full rankings or customize them to focus on your own priorities. JUSTIN METZ

Another Ivy League school, Brown University, also made the top 10 in the Northeast for outcomes, at No. 9. The only Ivy not to make the regional top 10 for the category, Columbia University, is No. 11 in the Northeast.

Non-Ivies in the Northeastern top 10 for outcomes are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst College and Williams College.

All 10 schools on the Northeastern list are private. The top public school for outcomes in the Northeast is the University of Pittsburgh, 32nd in the region, followed by SUNY Binghamton University at 33rd. They rank 80th and 87th, respectively, in the country for outcomes.

See the list of top 10 schools in the Northeast for outcomes below. You can also see our full rankings as well as sort the complete rankings by a variety of measures and reweight the main contributing factors to reflect what’s most important to you. And you can use our tool to help you compare any two colleges in detail side by side.

Top Colleges in the Northeast for Outcomes

Outcomes Rank: NortheastCollegeOutcomes Rank: NationalOverall Rank: National
1Harvard University11
1Princeton University15
3Yale University33
4University of Pennsylvania54
5Cornell University79
6Dartmouth College1012
7Massachusetts Institute of Technology122
8Amherst College1420
9Brown University157
10Williams College1721

Showing 1 to 10 of 10 entries

Regions are as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Ties are listed in order of the schools’ overall national ranking.

Source: WSJ/THE College Rankings

(See the top 10 list of Northeastern colleges, ranked by student outcomes.)

——Gerard Yates

Civilization Is History at Yale

Great art is too ‘white, straight, European and male,’ so it’ll have to give way to the latest agitprop.

By Roger Kimball Jan. 29, 2020 6:57 pm ET

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Illustration: Barbara Kelley

Yale announced last week that it will stop teaching its famous survey course, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present.” Taught for decades by Vincent Scully one of Yale’s most celebrated professors, the course was a riveting introduction to pulse of humanism.

It is being cashiered for all the usual reasons. Its focus is too white, too European, too male, too “problematic,” as Tim Barringer, chairman of the art history department, puts it. Mr. Barringer will substitute a course that challenges such Eurocentrism and promises to be very up-to-date. Mr. Barrginer says he’ll introduce a “global” perspective. Naturally, he writes, the course will consider art in relation to “questions of gender, class and ‘race.’ ” (Why the scare quotes around “race”? Is today one of those days when race is only a social construct?) It will also ponder art’s “involvement with Western capitalism.”

Globalism, gender, class, race, capitalism. Has Mr. Barringer neglected any trendy concern? How about the Greta Thunberg gambit? On it! Art’s “relationship with climate change will be a ‘key theme,’ ” the Yale Daily News reports.

The Daily News adds that the removal of “Introduction to Art History” is “the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western ‘canon’—a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.”

It is also yet another sign that Yale has succumbed to a life-draining decadence. A decadent institution isn’t necessarily impoverished or licentious. Rather, it is desiccated because it has lost the life-giving pith of its purpose. To a casual observer, a decadent institution may look healthy. The buildings may be expensive, well-kept and plentiful. Tidy, well-heeled people may bustle about. But the animating élan has evaporated. A decadent institution is one that has repudiated itself.

Readers of these pages will recall many warning signs of self-repudiation from Yale. A few years ago, bowing to student pressure, it rebaptized a residential college named for John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was a congressman, senator, secretary of war and vice president, one of his generation’s most brilliant orators, and an effective defender of limited government and free trade. But he was also an avid supporter of slavery, so any other consideration had to be erased. Statues and other representations of Calhoun were removed from public view, as were stained-glass windows depicting slaves laboring in fields from the dining hall of the college formerly known for John.

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but many of Yale’s residential colleges are named for men who supported slavery. One whose position was very close to Calhoun’s was Samuel F.B. Morse. You probably know Morse as inventor of the telegraph and namesake of its code. He was also a staunch believer that slavery was a positive good. Apparently, Yale’s Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming—I’m not making that up—hasn’t gotten around to Samuel Morse.

Nor has it gotten around to Elihu Yale. A philanthropist whose benefactions helped found the university, Yale was also an administrator in India, where he was deeply involved in the slave trade. He made sure that ships leaving his jurisdiction for Europe carried at least 10 slaves. I am still waiting for the Committee on Renaming to tackle Elihu Yale. My own suggestion is that they rename the university for a more important early benefactor, Jeremiah Dummer, who recruited Elihu Yale as a donor.

Yale’s habit of self-repudiation targets much more than impermissible attitudes toward slavery. In 2017, Yale’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces first covered and then removed a stone decoration from an entrance to Sterling Memorial Library that depicted an American Indian and a Puritan. The Puritan was holding a musket—a gun! Susan Gibbons, of Yale’s librarian-censors, sniffed that its “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” Why not? She didn’t think it necessary to say.

The Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming and the Committee on Art in Public Spaces: Yale University has been impressed by Robespierre’s Committee on Public Safety, which had a similarly censorious and even more kinetic approach to heterodox opinions.

Also last week, Yale tapped Angela Davis as its Martin Luther King Day speaker. Ms. Davis, a two-time Communist Party USA nominee for vice president, is best known for fleeing justice after being charged with the 1970 kidnapping and murder of Judge Harry Haley. (Although she had bought the gun used in the crime, she was later acquitted.) Ms. Davis wanted to destroy America: She became a Communist, she wrote, because “the only true path to liberation . . . leads toward a complete and total overthrow of the capitalist class in this country and all its manifold institutional appendages.” Obviously she is a fitting speaker for Yale.

The political philosopher James Burnham once observed that “suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.” As Yale has been demonstrating for some years now, elite institutions are eager to take the lead.

Mr. Kimball is president and publisher of Encounter Books and editor and publisher of the New Criterion.

An Antarctic Explorer’s Mental Journey

Weekend Confidential

Endurance athlete Colin O’Brady was the first person to cross the Antarctic continent alone and unaided—thanks to an epiphany with 77 miles to go

Fifty-three days into his solo trek across Antarctica and 77 miles from his goal, Colin O’Brady was exhausted and starving. Running out of food, he had stretched out his daily rations to keep himself alive. “My ribs were sticking out, my hips were sticking out,” he recalls. “I had frostbite on my hands and cheeks.” It was Christmas Day 2018, and he could barely summon the energy to pack his bags onto the sled he pulled behind him. But then he started and, step by step, something in him shifted: “My mind came alive. I said to myself, ‘What if I don’t stop? What if I just keep going?’”

From that point, Mr. O’Brady, an explorer and endurance athlete with multiple world records to his name, pushed on for 32 hours straight to the end of his 932-mile quest. He beat his rival, British Army Capt. Lou Rudd, by two days to become the first man to complete a crossing of Antarctica alone and unassisted. But the real journey, he says, was an internal one: “Being alone in this stark white landscape, without music, without podcasts, and figuring out where that would take my mind and my soul.”

Mr. O’Brady, 34, had come to Antarctica with the hope of finding and exploring the “flow state”—a psychological term for the immersive focus of athletes who are “in the zone”—that he had experienced in short spurts in earlier endeavors. In the euphoria of his final push, “It was like I was hyper-present every single minute, like those 32 hours lasted weeks in my mind,” he says. “My senses were super heightened. I felt connected to all of the people in my life, which is very bizarre when you’re completely alone, surrounded by nothing but ice.”

By contrast, he points out, tucking into breakfast at a restaurant in Manhattan, we can also be surrounded by millions of people and feel completely alone.

I love to explore the edges of the world.

In his just-published memoir, “The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice—Crossing Antarctica Alone,” Mr. O’Brady also revisits his unlikely route to his adventurous career. In 2007, after graduating from Yale University, where he had been recruited for the swim team, he set off on a yearlong backpacking trip. On a Thai island, a freak accident changed his life. Joining in a common, though perilous, activity on Thai beaches—skipping a flaming jump rope—he got caught in the rope and suffered severe burns on his legs. A doctor at the local hospital told him he’d never walk normally again.

“I was downward-spiraling,” says Mr. O’Brady. “I’d been a lifelong athlete. I thought, ‘Who am I without that?’” His mother urged him to set a goal, so he did—completing a triathlon. Back at his childhood home in Portland, Ore., she pushed him every day to walk a few steps farther. “I look at that as a sliding-doors moment in my life,” he says. “If I had leaned into the negativity, the fear, the diagnosis, it’s really hard to say where my life would have gone. But instead this other door was opened to me.”

His rehabilitation turned into training, and in 2009, he won the Chicago triathlon. Having completed one goal, he set another and another, winning a spot on Team USA at the 2010 World Triathlon Championships. In 2016, he completed the Explorers Grand Slam, a challenge to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and complete expeditions to the North and South Poles—and he did it in world-record time. The string of athletic highs happened “not in spite of the burn accident but actually because of it,” he says. “They’re a continuation of that curiosity—what more am I capable of?” He hopes that his records create a ripple effect, inspiring other people to “take on the seemingly impossible in their own lives.”

Mr. O’Brady about halfway through his trek across Antarctica, on Nov. 28, 2018. Photo: Courtesy Colin O’Brady

What drew Mr. O’Brady to Antarctica, he writes, was “the idea of the blank canvas, of life unfolding with its deep uncertainties and possibilities wrapped up together.” Growing up hiking the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, he was fascinated by stories of explorers and frustrated to be born when so much had already been explored. But trudging across the ice on his mohair-covered skis in Antarctica, he would remind himself that 99% of his steps were on ground that no one had touched before. “I love to explore the edges of the world,” he says.

His previous records were about speed, optimizing feats that others had already accomplished. There was no blueprint, though, for the Antarctic crossing. Those who had attempted it before him had given up or died. The continent posed a “giant math problem”—carry too much food and equipment and the sled would be too heavy; carry too little and he might die. His wife, Jenna Besaw, the organizer behind his exploits, packed and weighed and repacked his gear. On an early night in his trek, when his sled was too heavy and he was crying tears that froze on his face, she ran the numbers and talked him through how much more he could leave behind at a way station. They talked almost every night. “That’s my favorite part of this,” he says. “It’s not a single man’s effort. Not even close.”

If I had leaned into the negativity, the fear, it’s really hard to say where my life would have gone.

He trained with an ex-Navy SEAL, who contrived exercises such as doing planks with his hands in ice buckets and wall-sits with his feet in ice buckets while solving a Lego set. “It seemed crazy at the time,” Mr. O’Brady says, but the ability to concentrate on tying a knot properly, for instance, in the middle of a storm with frozen hands would be key to his survival.

Another crucial bit of preparation: 10-day silent meditation retreats. On the best days of his journey, the empty landscape would start to fill with vivid memories he didn’t know he had, like wandering through a lucid dream. “It was wild,” he says. “All of a sudden I could tap into these moments—for 12 hours pulling my sled, I’d go into these memory palaces. It was like, oh my god, it’s all in there. We all have that!”

On the darker days, though, he began to lose his grip on reality. Not having seen his rival, who started at the same time, since they crossed paths on the sixth day, he began to wonder if Capt. Rudd was a figment of his imagination. “Is Lou real?” he asked his wife on the satellite phone. He became obsessed, too, with the fate of Henry Worsley, an explorer who died attempting the crossing in 2016.

After Mr. O’Brady reached the finish line, a tiny post sticking out of the snow, he waited two days to congratulate Capt. Rudd.

This past Christmas, Mr. O’Brady set another world first—rowing a boat with five other people across Drake Passage, from Cape Horn to Antarctica. “Forty-foot swells, tiny little rowboat, no motor, no sails, never slept more than 60 minutes at a time,” he says, still riding the high of seeing the giant icebergs and jumping penguins as they reached the peninsula. “Anyway,” he shrugs, “that’s a whole other story.”

Write to Elizabeth Winkler at

Danger to our University

          The dangers to our university are non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism.  These are clear and present dangers to the original idea of a University.  Perhaps the first purpose of a university came from Socrates who said, “Never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy”. But he also disclaimed any involvement in politics and the struggle for power.

          Another problem is that our youth approaching the University lack discipline.  No one doubts the truism that after two years of military service the person was better for it.  High schools which have a universal job program for all for an hour in the morning produce more disciplined students.

          The non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism are pushing for dangerous developments in the university:

  1.  The ascension of narrow ideological fields of study, usually at the expense of study of the great events and ideas of world history.
  2.   The erosion of the due process of the rights of faculty and students.
  3.   Denying the special place America represents with its freedom and justice and the 1st choice of most immigrants.
  4.   Dangerous efforts to regulate permissible limits of classroom discussion.
  5.  Unwelcome ideas are condemned as is “hate speech” by some.

Every needy student activist asserts demands that require expansion of the bureaucracy. The new bureaucracy encourages and facilitates the student agitation.

Example:  The students demand that the name “Calhoun” be changed for one of Yale’s residential buildings because Mr. Calhoun owned slaves at one time. 

       Result:  Under President Salovey a board convinced a study group and agreed to change the name.

        Pres. Salovey announced the creation of a “Name Calling Committee” and a budget of $3 million dollars was included so that a proper consensus could be reached with student approval for their demands.

Opinion:  This spineless “give in” to student demands, produced new student life coordinates, more officers, more diversity deans, more sexual climate professionals, more non-faculty bureaucracy.

A weak leadership will create still another diversity and an inclusion study group to avoid elitism, to force diversity, to improve access to academic programs and alumni networks to outsiders not connected to Yale, to end legacy admission, to increase equal opportunity, and to increase economic and social mobility.

Note:  Most of the above are pet projects of the new head of Yale’s Board, C atherine Hill, who was “let go” from Vassar (President from 2006.  Debt was $172 million.  By 2015 the debt rose to $254 million).

Sometimes the new bureaucrats promote activist causes directly. At a well-known midwestern college the vice president and dean of student life (formerly the college’s special assistant to the president for diversity, equity, and inclusion) was found to have been directly involved in a student effort to libel and injure a local business on fabricated charges of racism!

Thus, this new non-faculty bureaucracy and student activism seek to change education as we knew it.  How did we get there?   Yale’s mission statement before 2016 was; “Yale has as tripartite mission:  to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge”.  This statement is just about right.  But in 2016 President Salovey announced a new longer statement.  Here are two representative sentences:

          “Yale is committed to IMPROVING the world…. Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society…”

The focus on knowledge is gone, replaced by leadership, practice and world-improvement.  The shift is from inquiry and deliberation to institution of assertiveness and action.

          Universities do not exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral or economic debates.  Maintaining that distinction between inquiry and action has always been crucial to academic freedom.  It is the totalitarian who rejects this distinction, who insists that society may regulate opinion as it regulates action.  The Gestapo or Inquisition are good examples.

          Now the ambitions of our university staff are greater:  the achievement of diversity, inclusion and equity, avoid elitism, restore regulation of the for-profit sector, regulate economic and social mobility, get rid of legacy admissions.

The dreaded Title IX has metastasized into a vast bureaucracy that oversees orientations, investigations and mandatory bystander training, amounting to a re-education which is a new part of the University’s business.  The university is changing from the teaching of philosophy and inquiry to the service of social change.

This cancer begins with the new “professional admissions” departments.  These admissions professionals are not interested in traditional academic criteria but flashier virtues such as “the need for change, activism, leadership, or overcoming adversity”.  In the old days under President Kingman Brewster it was simpler. “Welcome to the privilege of Yale.”   vs.   Now.

                                               Inquiry vs. activism                                                             Speech vs. conduct

              Process of understanding the world vs. impose our will on it.

               Authority with the faculty vs. non-faculty bureaucracies

How do we change it back to where it was?

  1.  The faculty has to wake up.
  2.   Trustees should demand detailed outlines of jobs they offer.
  3.   Alumni should become wiser in their philanthropy and limit gifts  to a year, subject to direction and results.
  4.  Enforce restrictions on charitable gifts.
  5.  Clean up admission process (intellectual virtues over activism)
  6.  Clean out the mass of activism and bureaucracy.

Those who seek to politicize the University to collapse the distinction between educational inquiry and action claim that the old university is a “shield for the privileged” and “justice is paramount”.  These activists have a morose self-loathing of the past and seek to recast our constitution and academic principals into their enlightened power.  It will FAIL.

Our newest arrivals have already voted with their feet.  Immigrants by the hundred thousand at the border are eager to learn and embrace our national traditions. Our university’s purpose was and is to teach students in methods and habits of free inquiry – in deliberation assessment of evidence and the expansion of knowledge.  Universities did NOT exist to implement the conclusion of our social, cultural, moral, or economic debates. -1-

                                                                      John Allen Franciscus

1.  This whole article quotes much and leans heavily on the Remarks of Judge Jose A. Cabranes on the occasion of the 2019 Philip Menall Award by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  Washington D.C.  

          Also we refer to –  Selection of Articles and Quotes 8 Oct 2019 from Catharine Hill in the Media:  Boilerplate Mag.  18 Jan 200.    New York Time 2016.  Poughkeepsie Journal. 20 July 16.

Yale Alumni Association – 2011 assembly Peter Salovey Leadership Advancing Yale’s Mission.  Belonging at Yale,  Supporting Diversity,  Equity, and inclusion on Campus.