The Divided Academy: Professors and Politics

By Everett Carll Ladd Jr.; Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

11. Concluding Observations

The political climate in American higher education during the fall of 1974, as we end this volume, differs sharply from what it was in 1967, when a large sample survey of faculty opinion was authorized by the Carnegie Commission, and in the spring of 1969, when data for the 60,000 sample were collected. The late sixties witnessed the height of the campus unrest engendered by opposition to the Vietnam War. Large numbers of students, supported by many faculty, were involved in massive demonstrations. Acts of civil disobedience, particularly seizures of university buildings, severely divided the estates of the university. And sharp conflict among academics characterized campus life. Faculty meetings were crowded as professors debated how to deal with student unrest, and whether and how they should react to a war which the large majority found unpalatable or immoral. The issues divided departments and led old friends and colleagues into bitter personal squabbles. Classrooms became political arenas. The delicate though often impersonal confidence between teachers and students, professors and professors, students and students, was severely breached. The community of scholarship appeared to be endangered.

But half a decade later, the campus scene was almost strikingly different. The headlines in newspaper stories dealing with universities now read, "Era of Turmoil Seems Dead on Campuses, Check of College Finds Grades, Jobs Are Now Students' Top Concerns" ( Los Angeles Times, OCTOBER 14, 1973); "'New Vocationalism' Now Campus Vogue" ( New York Times, DECEMBER 25, 1973); "The Frat Is Back" ( Newsweek, NOVEMBER 12, 1973); "Rah Rah Revival: School Related Products Make a Comeback" ( Wall Street Journal, OCTOBER 4, 1973); "Black Studies Courses Now Obsolete" ( Los Angeles Sentinel, NOVEMBER 22, 1973); "ROTC Apparently Making a Cautious Comeback at Many Colleges" ( New York Times, OCTOBER 25, 1973); "School of Theology Turning from Social Concerns" ( Boston Globe, NOVEMBER 10, 1973); "Greeks [Fraternities] Making Comeback" ( Boston Globe, JANUARY 6, 1974)

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