September 27, 2003
When I was an undergraduate at Yale, I had several long discussions with my senior essay advisor about whether to pursue my PhD. My advisor, who was himself quite liberal, cautioned against it, largely because of my emerging, right-of-center political views. As he described it, succeeding in the liberal arts academy is tough enough as it is without the added burden of holding unpopular views. To illustrate the risk, he noted that one of his colleagues on the graduate admissions committee explicitly blackballed each and every candidate who had ever received financial support (scholarships, fellowships, etc.) from the John M. Olin Foundation because, his colleague insisted, the Olin Foundation only funded people who thought like they did, and Yale did not want any graduate students who thought that way. If I truly wanted to be an academic, he counseled, I was better off going to law school.
Anything but that! Follow the links in the Volokh post for more comments on Brooks’ column.
UPDATE: David Adesnik agrees with Jacob T. Levy (quoted in the Brooks piece, in case you didn’t follow the link) that this isn’t such a big deal.
Since the piece is about arts and sciences hiring, I couldn’t say, and I imagine that it varies a lot from institution to institution. Hiring at my school is pretty non-ideological, and the committees generally get along pretty well. But then, we’re a pretty collegial faculty, and plenty of others, er, aren’t.
And read this, too.
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg comments.