Paul Carrese writes for National Review Online about the importance of civics education.

American higher education is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis. Two Ivy League presidents and a board chair have recently resigned amid scandal. The Ivies and other prestigious private universities should consider a practical reform, now spreading across several public universities, that recovers a core academic mission and restores public trust. Restoration of the traditional civic mission of public universities — providing a blend of liberal-arts and American civic education to future leaders — offers even left-leaning administrators and trustees a path toward meeting their enlightened self-interest. Prudent alums, donors, and trustees should urge them to consider it as a reasonable step to redress rising controversy and cratering legitimacy.

Indeed, just as astounding as the recent calamities at these great institutions is the American public’s loss of confidence in higher education itself in recent years. It’s not surprising that conservatives and Republicans have declining trust, given the obvious ideological shift leftward on most campuses. But now the national polling registers a collapse of confidence among self-identified independents. What once was deemed the Ivory Tower is underwater, so to speak. Restoring that trust is an urgent task for higher education and for America, and it starts with recovering higher education’s core missions.

It is the ideological shift, and resulting loss of legitimacy, that really caused the crises engulfing Penn, Harvard, and other leading campuses. Trustees, presidents, and other leaders embodied the left-progressive orthodoxy dominating most American universities and colleges. The dearth of intellectual diversity among these leaders, and most faculty as well, blinded them to the shocking contradiction exposed in the congressional testimony of three such presidents. Their campuses were already notorious in recent years for suppressing newly impermissible views about race, class, gender, and oppressed groups, and for imposing DEI ideological litmus tests on faculty and staff hiring. Then, they insisted that a doctrine of free speech should protect open advocacy of genocide against Jews.