“Be Original. Be You. Imagine a place where bright, bold free thinkers come to connect and thrive. A place for individuality, for curiosity. A place that’s home to originals like you, who love to learn. At New College, experience the kind of exceptional education that prepares you to be your best self.”
“Developing Minds. Improving Hearts. Hillsdale College is a small, Christian, classical liberal arts college in southern Michigan that operates independently of government funding. Our students come from around the United States and more than a dozen foreign countries, and drawn to the challenge of a Hillsdale education, they grow in heart and mind by studying timeless truths in a supportive community dedicated to the highest things.”
Two very different institutions. One governor with the goal to “Own the Libs” all the way to the White House.
Governor Ron DeSantis is in the news - again - and this time, it isn’t about “Don’t Say Gay” or a 15 Week Abortion Ban, it’s about academic freedom. DeSantis came with a battering ram to “break down” CRT and busted down the doors of public K-12. He diminished the classroom educational content to create a white washed, DeSantis approved curriculum. Higher Ed may have balked but, with our noses in the air, we were convinced it wouldn’t hurt us.
Well, this week it hit us. With Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs, staff and initiatives being cut, with trustees replacing the President at New College, and with his beating the College Board into submission to strip out some of the more ‘controversial’ aspects of the AP African American Studies curriculum - he’s winning and he’s winning “bigly”. DeSantis is the face of white fragility wrapped in the cloak of the school yard bully.
My heart hurts for the students at New College. These are students with not only promise, but who found a place of belonging where they are encouraged to be their true selves. I am not going to point to Hillsdale as a lesser institution - it’s a different institution. It is literally built on Western “Civilization” and Christian ideals. The students at New College don’t want that. If they did, they would have gone to Hillsdale or a version of it closer to Florida.
With an Undergraduate enrollment of under 700 students, New College is ranked #76 Nationally by USNews in the National Liberal Arts Colleges and charges in-state tuition of $6,916 and has an acceptance rate of 76%. Hillsdale is ranked higher at #48, has just over twice as many students (1600 FTE), has a more selective acceptance rate of 24%, and charges just shy of $31,000 in tuition. But the devil is in the details…
New College is ranked in other categories as well. #49 in Best Value Schools, #40 in Most Innovative Schools, #52 in Top Performers on Social Mobility … and #5 in Top Public Schools. Hillsdale is also ranked in Best Value Schools at #89. But rankings are not everything - in fact in some cases rankings are becoming less and less in vogue as campuses start to recalibrate as to what is truly important.
Graduation rates, which should be the most important value of an education, are above the national average at both institutions. With Hillsdale having an impressive 87% 6 year graduation rate and New College at 64%. But something that New College reports that Hillsdale does not is their enrollment stats and their graduation rates for those who are PELL Eligible (also 64%). Hillsdale doesn’t report these items because they proudly take zero funds from the federal government.
And then there are these charts from US News:
So here you go. If you are wondering what is happening … It's pretty clear. Own the libs on the way to the White House while erasing social mobility, individuality and belonging.
So, what should HigherEd do about it? Well, I am thinking about what we should not do, and that is this - don’t form a committee about it. Because if we want to show that we can actually get stuff done, committees aren’t our best foot forward. Let’s start talking about what we are about…educating the whole student, creating lifelong learners who are constantly seeking new information and new ideas and will challenge old ideas with new ones because that is how society moves forward. Isolating yourself from government aid for the sake of principles is one thing; isolating yourself from laws that promote access and equity is something very different.
Let’s also focus on improving graduation rates, focus on graduating students with less debt, focus on data that shows what students are learning in and out of the classroom and finally, get better representation in the statehouse and in state government. Also, don’t talk about DeSantis. Talk about what you are doing to educate students. How you are not only reaching and surpassing learning outcomes, meeting and surpassing accreditation standards, and how you are leading as an institution.
Ron DeSantis - and the GOP - have given us their blueprint on what they are going to do to attack HigherEd. They are going to devalue the work of promoting independent thought and individuality. They are going to attack our most vulnerable students. And they are going to attack Faculty and Administrators as being the worst forms of humanity. Be ready to be labeled a ‘groomer’ a ‘fascist’ and even worse. Because if you think it isn’t happening, you didn’t learn from what happened to our colleagues in K-12.
Dr. Laura De Veau is Principal & Founder of Fortify Associates, LLC. Fortify Associates, LLC is unique in the higher education, not-for-profit, and public service market. They provide comprehensive workshops, program reviews and project management services with a combination of in-person and virtual delivery. Fortify Associates is committed to creating experiences that are unique to the needs and culture of each of their clients. Fortify Associates wants to elevate your organization and help you optimize your workplace. As a Predictive Index partner, Fortify can leverage the power of PI with the knowledge and talent of the Fortify team to create a truly unique set of offerings. Contact Dr. De Veau
What's Up in The Academy? is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Yes to all of this. I recently had the opportunity to speak before our House Ways and Means Committee and did just what you suggested. I focused on our diversity in its broadest forms including first-generation, veterans/military-connected, post-traditional, international, and ethnic minorities. I spoke about outcomes such as social mobility, career readiness, producing educated workers for the workforce in South Carolina, aligning degrees and majors with what employers seek, and undergraduate contributions to research which is impacts SC and the world. I don't think our education of others about what we truly do will fix everything, but it will address many things.
Thanks for exposing the disturbing Hillsdale agenda - it's one thing to have a private college with a specific mindset - it's quite another when that college seeks to re-write k-12 curriculum and impose its viewpoint on public colleges - all aided and abetted by those like Ronnie D who seek political fortune. Sad, really, but not unexpected in the post-Trump era.