The Echo Chamber on Liberal Campuses

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Professors are stereotyped as pinko, tree-hugging, world-order globalists intrigued by same-sex marriage, obsessed with the environment and besotted with anything non-Western.

Admittedly, I overstate the public image somewhat. Still, when consensus does occur among colleagues at my faculty "lunch table," it generally falls left-of-center, so perhaps there is some validity here.

One study, by a team that included GMU communications professor Robert Lichter, provides more tenable evidence of a liberal inclination among today's professors. Survey responses from faculty members at 183 American colleges and universities show that "liberals and Democrats outnumber conservatives and Republicans by large margins" and that liberals generally teach at the so-called better institutions.

There is some variation by academic discipline. English literature professors, for example, turn out to be 88 percent liberal and 3 percent conservative, whereas business professors are 49 percent liberal and 39 percent conservative. Overall, however, 72 percent of professors describe themselves as liberal and 15 percent as conservative. That's almost a 5-1 ratio.

Another interesting point: The percentage of faculty members who are liberal increases with the academic ranking of the school. The study postulates that anti-conservative discrimination in hiring and advancement may push conservative professors out of elite schools.

So, if you are looking for a conservative academic, try the business department at an institution not considered top-tier. You will need some luck, however, because the odds are still against finding one.

Okay, academic faculties are generally liberal. So? What's a liberal faculty anyway? Well, according to the study, faculty members agree with these statements in the percentages shown.

· Homosexual and heterosexual lifestyles are equally acceptable (67 percent).

· Women have a right to an abortion (84 percent).

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company