Conservative College Professors: An Endangered Species

Robert Maranto, a former professor of political science at Villanova, recently published a new book through AEI Press, The Politically Correct University, which highlights the scarcity of conservative and libertarian-leaning professors at America’s colleges and universities. Maranto has been working on this research for several years now, and has previously written a piece in The Washington Post on the subject back 2007.

While his conclusion may not seem ground-breaking to those in the conservative and libertarian camps, Maranto provides some rather unsettling empirical research to illustrate just how grave the situation has become. Perhaps the most troubling statistic is that liberal professors outnumber conservatives almost 3 to 1 in economic departments, 5 to 1 in political science and a whopping 20 to 1 in fields such as sociology and anthropology. The consequence of such bias is a lack of role models for right-leaning students, a feeling of detachment from their faculty, and perhaps, more importantly, a lack of intellectual deliberation that used to be the cornerstone of American higher education. As Maranto notes, “a student could probably go through all four years without ever encountering a right-of-center view portrayed in a positive light”. As a recent graduate of a decidedly liberal university myself, even entertaining such ideas as free-market capitalism, traditional family values and personal responsibility is enough to brand you as a radical.

While understandably most college students self-identify as liberals and have sympathies towards progressive ideas, Maranto correctly indicates that bias among faculty severely limits students exposure to different ideas and therefore dampers the ability of universities to produce thoughtful citizens. As the late David Hume once noted, “When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without the proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities”. This couldn’t ring more true today in high education.