The Martin Center begins the new year with recommendations for higher education reforms.

The year 2020 brought changes that colleges would have never made by choice. Enrollment declines, remote classes, and dramatic employee cuts (for faculty and some staff alike) were unthinkable a year ago. But, for the sake of the future, more work remains. Below are some priorities the Martin Center staff would like to see catch fire on campus.

Jenna A. Robinson, President

Expand the Number of Universities Committed to the Chicago Principles

In 2021, more universities should adopt the Chicago Principles of Free Expression—especially here in North Carolina. The Chicago Principles go beyond merely legal protection for free speech. They demonstrate a university’s commitment to the importance of free and open inquiry, robust debate, and unfettered freedom of thought to the university’s mission of preserving, discovering, and transmitting knowledge.

The statement reads, in part:

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.

This should be a bedrock principle at all institutions of higher learning, because without this commitment true academic freedom and discovery are impossible. …

Jay Schalin, Director of Policy Analysis

Let Many Flowers Bloom

What I hope for in the New Year is that there will be an explosion of higher education innovation.

In particular, the time is ripe for the emergence of brand-new institutions that explicitly reject the “woke” academic zeitgeist. Lots of lessons have been learned in the mad, bad year of 2020. For instance, colleges’ complicity with, leadership of, or submission to such organizations as Black Lives Matter and Antifa has raised awareness about how radical much of academia has become. More people have to be waking up to mainstream higher education’s rejection of traditional American norms of individual achievement, empirical facts, and everyday objectivity (such as agreeing that gender is a matter of biology and not choice). Why would anybody attend a college that deems you a second-class citizen responsible for historic crimes way in the past, long before your grandparents were born?