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"The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World"

Thanks to reader Kevin for David Feith's WSJ story on an upset philanthropist and the head of Bowdoin College butting heads over identity politics on the golf course.

The dispute has since led to a rich-guy commissioned study and upheaval at Bowdoin.

One day in the summer of 2010, Barry Mills, the president of Bowdoin College, a respected liberal-arts school in Brunswick, Maine, met investor and philanthropist Thomas Klingenstein for a round of golf about an hour north of campus. College presidents spend many of their waking hours talking to potential donors. In this case, the two men spoke about college life—especially "diversity"—and the conversation made such an impression on President Mills that he cited it weeks later in his convocation address to Bowdoin's freshman class. That's where the dispute begins.

In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer's announcement: "I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons," said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills's telling. During Mr. Mills's next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin's "misplaced and misguided diversity efforts." At the end of the round, the college president told the students, "I walked off the course in despair."

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Reader Comments (22)

Hour north of Bowdoin....maybe Augusta CC...Stiles/Van Kleek/Ross. Nice track. Inevitably a confused but wealthy international tourist arrives this time of year to watch the little toonamint. Maybe Megunticook, Boothbay, or Northport. Most likely the timeshare addled Samoset Resort which would be unfortunate and in keeping with jackass donor golf.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrim Bones
Maybe the reason the Prez took the donor to a course 'an hour north of Bowdoin' is because the course in Brunswick used by the Bowdoin golf team - the Brunswick Golf Club - was formed by the Brunswick Republicans and originally called The Republican Club. Some turf you just can't be seen on.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGate74
Let's see - a wealthy donor funds "research" that concludes exactly what the donor believes. This is absolutely shocking! News at 11! This has never happened before - oh, yeah - maybe it has. Tobacco companies. Drug companies. Koch brothers. BP oil spill (a situation where BP had agreements with funded universities in which BP could keep scientific articles critical of BP from being published). The list goes on. There is a reason that serious research articles in serious research journals require the authors to publicly list the funding sources, to root out these kinds of possible conflicts of interest. Despite being a university academic for many years, I have never heard of the National Association of Scholars, but they do have have an impressive-sounding title. I have no idea whether they are a serious organization or a joke. If their conclusion is that college campuses are more liberal today than they used to be, and that the vast majority of faculty lean left, then I could have told them that for the price of a cup of coffee. Guess what? The US as a whole is getting more liberal and less conservative, particularly on social issues. Are there classes at other liberal arts colleges that are geared towards educating students on diversity, including women and ethnic issues? You bet. My elder son is a student at a small liberal arts school in Illinois and he has had to take a total of one class in this area for his math/economics degree. One of the reasons we chose this liberal arts school over my beloved UT-Austin (sorry, digger!) for our son is that we wanted him to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints, some of which he'll agree with and some he won't. As with all kids, he needs to learn to grow up and learn to live with a variety of people. Is the "Young Republicans" group at his college very big? Not really, but he does have conservative as well as liberal friends. The primary function of universities is to train students to think critically and to be able to analyze situations, and to obtain a base level of knowledge to allow students to go out into a profession and be successful. Well, that, and to be the minor leagues for professional football and basketball teams. My own political leanings don't into play in the courses I teach. I once unthinkingly wore a sweatshirt critical of George W. Bush to class one day (forgot what day I was teaching) and a student came up to me after class and asked me not to do that, as it was distracting to him. I respected his opinion - he was paying the money to take my class - and if something like a shirt was distracting to him, then I felt it was my job to not detract from his learning experience. Since then, I've only worn Life is Good golf t-shirts while I teach. Much less controversial.

Moral of the rambling post (sorry) - one should believe very few of the conclusions of "scientific studies" that are funded by a group - any group - with an agenda. I think in these cases a strong correlation does imply causation!
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRickABQ
Pony up a few more bucks, Rick, and they'll give you a keyboard with a return key.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWillie
Yeah, I once irritated a medical student with a comment about Dick Cheney's recent heart implant...The former VP looks good these days, and good for him.

The NAS (not National Academy of Sciences) is a bunch of grumpy old white men for the most part (hmm, golf and grumpy old white men...never mind), irritated that those damn other people are getting attention that should be reserved for Johann Georg Hamann. They are kind of like a country that calls itself "democratic" and/or a "republic" in their formal name. If you feel the need to call yourself a scholar, you probably ain't one. I was on their mailing list for a while along with those of a couple of other similar organizations. Their sugar daddies (Scaife, Olin, Richardson, Koch) tend to make subscriptions "free," I suppose because they believe in the free market. Oh, wait. Anyway, a little light reading once in a while is good for the soul.

As for conflicts of interest, they're everywhere. And the next time you read that Lipitor v. 4.0, is better than sliced bread and creamy peanut butter, if Pfizer had anything to do with the report just keep on walking.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
"The primary function of universities is to train students to think critically and to be able to analyze situations, and to obtain a base level of knowledge to allow students to go out into a profession and be successful."

If so, then universities get an "F" in their primary function. I've seen the course descriptions in the catalogs of today's universities, so the decline and fall of our civilization, as reported in such ruthlessly honest websites like zerohedge, doesn't surprise me. The products of those courses vote and govern, here and in Europe, and the results are on display for all to see.

(The meaning of "Zerohedge" by contributor, John Aziz of Azizonomics: "Hedge against the day when the (world economic) system goes to zero" - i.e., total collapse).

The universities are NOT teaching critical thinking and situational awareness and analysis. They're pushing ideology, which is another thing entirely. That academics, like the above writer and the President of Bowdoin, can't tell the difference between ideology and reality is not surprising.

Ideology is the manifestation of MIND in the world (vs. being), and since academics start out dealing with the things of the "mind" (lower case; a useful tool: 2+2=4) it's not surprising that they end up being transformed from human beings who use mind as a tool, into Human MINDS, who displace Human BEINGS.

As we learned to our sorrow in the 20th century, there is nothing so dangerous as a MIND let loose in the world (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, et alia). Ideology (MIND) in the 20th century was responsible for killing over 100,000, 000 people in the USSR, Germany, China, Cambodia, etc.

Another round of slaughter is coming ... (zerohedge)!
I support attempting to reach out to all viewpoints, and have been on newsletters from Newsmax (XR) to the Center for American Progess (ML) and find myself continuing to be a liberal conservative, and have pretty much totally discontinued any political reading beyond scanning, and what my Evelyn Woods training brings to the table for a few minutes a day.

I simply do not believe any politicians, do not believe there are 2 parties, and as to your dissertation on groups and studies, Rick -well yep, and even more bothersome to me is---

the sabotage of truth, by fake groups who present a ''name'' which indicates a POV, but in reality they are really the other side, and they fabricate ''information'' detrimental to the ''group'' they purport to represent. ...and it is spy v spy fooling the masses.

Pretty much Doctors who say smoking is good for you, but not as obvious a bit of bull.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
There's a lot of critical thinking on this site--just look at any post dealing with Bubba or Eldrick and folks get really critical.

That must mean we have lots of intelligentsia here.
If I needed help solving a problem that required critical thinking -- however one defines it -- I'd gladly accept a randomly selected Bowdoin graduate over a randomly selected commenter on golf websites.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
"Teaching Critical thinking" as performed by these sort of schools is filling young students head with utter rubbish during their time there - to the extent the students figure that out before age 30, well, mission accomplished.
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
@cristopher ritchie
With his well motivated Iraq war, You can add GW Bush to your list of minds let loose...
Or you didn't mention him because he's a republican golfer and others were not?!
P.s.: by the way, talking about critical thinking, 2 water drops + 2 water drops don't make 4, but one bigger water drop (just to explain that sometimes things turn out differently from what you think)
04.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiber
I guess that's what critical thinkers do: Gush like the biggest fanboys over a website representing a very entertaining brand of cynical libertarianism (libertarianism, of course, is no ideology, merely a specific set of ideas). And make sure that, per Godwin's law, the argument comes to a screeching halt. Who'd have argued similarly? Probably Hitler!
Now add some smileyfaces and prepare for another round of slaughter. :)
04.7.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfreshfrankie
I've made a concerted effort to have only like thinkers in my foursomes. I thought everyone knew that.
04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
I knew that.
04.7.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Welcome in mine anytime then Dig.
04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
Thanks, and you can come and fight the cactus here with us as soon as I am back in play.
Fiber - in your hypothetical, if you started with 2 water drops and added them to 2 more water drops wouldn't you still have 2 water drops?

04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Beckner
No: they can blend together and become just a bigger one
04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiber
...i forgot "if": if they can blend together, they become a bigger one
04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFiber
@Brim Bones - Don't forget Union Country Club or Goose River. But I'm guessing Megunticook; short an exclusive.
04.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Sanford
It's interesting to see how long ZeroHedge will last. If it does, it only proves that its readers are thinker/talkers, not investors, as they'd be broke and without even a computer if they invested based on ZH's TEOTWAWKI ramblings.
04.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
I suspect the course is Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. The donor owns a vacation home in Belgrade, Maine.
04.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDirigo

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