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The Death of American Colleges

April 24, 2020

The Covid-19 Pandemic threatens the closure of many businesses including many colleges and universities. Dr. Richard Vedder published his analysis of why many colleges are vulnerable:

1) many colleges experienced enrollment declines in the past decade; 2) many universities have low cash reserves; 3) the States have limited funds and are unable to bail out colleges in their States and 4) a reluctance of the federal government to bail them out.

How many colleges and universities will fail? Estimates range from 20% to 35%.

I am inclined to chortle at the discomfort of college administrators and tenured faculty who have lived the good life on the backs of millions of students forced to incur serious indebtedness for tuition, fees and the cost of room and board.

There isn’t enough revenue in our economy to save these institutions from closure or bankruptcy.  In addition, Members of Congress in the GOP,  at least, are aware how they have been treated by college critics. Why do anything to deter their well-earned “creative destruction.”

Unfortunately, many good colleges, mostly small, with academic programs that contribute to good citizenship will not make it.

I once tried to rectify the highly radicalized condition of higher education by founding a conservative, for profit, Internet university and ran into hostility from state education commissions, a mis-directed shuttering of an accreditation agency designed for academic colleges by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, a full-throated attack on for-profit education by our socialist President, Barack Obama, and, now, a do-nothing attitude by the U.S. Department of Education of President Donald Trump.

Conservative Christian colleges felt that I was not rooted sufficiently in the Bible and Catholic colleges that had abandoned the philosophy of Aristotle enshrined in the philosophy of St. Thomas felt that my university was out of step with the movement for “Social Justice.”  Even given all that, I found close to fifty investors willing to take a chance and invest three million dollars.

Can that effort be recreated after the dust of this pandemic settles? That’s what we used to call the “64 dollar question.”

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