Whenever there is political tension between society and the nation's campuses, concern is likely to be expressed about the influence of college and university professors. During the early 1950s, college and university campuses were frequent hunting grounds of the red hunters who were searching for imported ideologies within the faculties. And, in the 1960s, when the campuses were centers of opposition to the Vietnam War and of support for civil rights activities, there were those who partially wrote off students who became visibly involved in such efforts as "dupes of their radical professors." The obvious question raised by such episodes is, What really are the politics of academic men and women in the United States? And the question becomes increasingly important as we begin to realize how frequently university professors are involved in society's concerns—not only in teaching the young, but also in advising the leaders of government and industry, and in exercising leadership themselves in the discovery and analysis of new ideas. In this book, Professors Everett Carll Ladd, Jr., and Seymour Martin Lipset provide some important answers to the question. In analyzing information obtained from the more than 60,000 professors who responded to the Carnegie Commission's Survey of Student and Faculty Opinion in 1969 and by making a supplementary survey of their own in 1972, they have been able to construct a detailed, up-to-date profile of the political orientation of the faculty members of American colleges and universities.
The authors find the dominant orientation of professors to be liberal, and they trace the causes of the orientation to the nature of intellectual activities that involve a questioning of the status quo and a critical attitude toward conventional wisdom. They substantiate this linkage between liberality and intellectuality by presenting evidence that ties liberality to the more intellectually oriented disciplines and to the higher achievers in scholarly endeavors. In reaching this conclusion, they also