The latest Martin Center column focuses on staff members’ current reading lists.

Jenna A. Robinson, President

In March, Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay penned “A Principled Defense of the University” for Areo. Coming from two of the authors of the “Sokal Squared” publishing scandal, it’s an important disclaimer: Grievance studies are not representative of the whole university.

In the essay, the authors explain why they believe the modern university is “among humanity’s crowning achievements.” It’s because, they say, the university exists specifically to carry out noble goals—to produce and share knowledge, to act as the center of culture, and to generate opportunities for citizens and nations. …

… Jay Schalin, Director of Policy Analysis

I recently read How University Boards Work: A Guide for Trustees, Officers, and Leaders in Higher Education, by Robert A. Scott. The book is a wonderfully detailed and often insightful manual for the operation of a university board. That is, if you wish to perpetuate the academia that exists today. If you wish to address higher education’s most serious problems, something more is required.

It’s not that he is unaware that higher education has problems, but too often Scott dismisses or ignores the worst ones. Certainly, he is highly qualified to write about higher education governance, having served both as president of a private school, Adelphi University, and a public one, Ramapo College of New Jersey. But something crucial is missing—while Scott acknowledges that boards should define their institutions’ missions and directions, in other ways, his recommendations undermine their influence. …

… George Leef, Director of Editorial Content

I am currently reading Cracks in the Ivory Tower by Jason Brennan and Phil Magness. The book’s subtitle is “The Moral Mess of Higher Education,” a subject that has been very little explored by scholars. Most people assume that the professors and administrators who inhabit the world of higher education are driven by deep concerns for the quality of the learning experience for students. That’s a mistaken assumption, the authors argue. What they show is that the decisions made by professors and administrators are mostly driven by self-interest rather than ethical concerns.