Counterculture Fades as Leftist Professors Retire

Thursday, 03 Jul 2008 05:28 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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A vast generational change is underway at American universities and colleges that will radically alter the culture over the next decade.

Politically liberal college professors from the baby boomer generation, most of which were hired during the higher education expansion of the ‘60s and ‘70s, are systematically being replaced by younger professors who are less ideologically polarized and more politically moderate, The New York Times reports.

“There’s definitely something happening,” says Peter W. Wood, executive director of the National Association of Scholars, which was created in 1987 to counter attacks on Western culture and values.

“I hear from quite a few faculty members and graduate students from around the country. They are not really interested in fighting the battles that have been fought over the last 20 years,” Wood tells the Times.

An interview of nearly 50 educators at colleges and universities across the country shows academic institutions returning back to scholarly endeavors, rather than the political activism breeding grounds they were during the ‘60s, the Times report reveals.

The left-wing indoctrination machines most campuses were during the hippie era are giving way to institutions today that are once again churning out students who actually prefer learning over politicking, a consensus of the academics interviewed notes.

Statistics released by the American Association of University Professors shows more than 54 percent of full-time faculty members in the United States were older than 50 in 2005, compared with 22.5 percent in 1969.

This graying of the faculty, the report confirms, will accelerate even more as additional personnel retire in the next decade or so.

As aging left-wing professors continue to fade from college campuses, so do the polemics and passions of the generation it produced.

A study of the social and political views of American professors, by Neil Gross of the University of British Columbia and Solon Simmons of George Mason University, finds 17.2 percent of the 50-64 age group (just under 50 percent of all college educators) considers themselves “liberal activists,” compared with only 1.3 percent of professors 35 and younger.

At the same time, the youngest group, ages 26-35, contains the highest percentage of moderates (some 60 percent) and the lowest percentage of liberals (just under a third).

“Self-described liberals are most common within the ranks of those professors aged 50-64, who were teenagers or young adults in the 1960s,” says Gross.

“These findings with regard to age provide further support for the idea that, in recent years, the trend has been toward increasing moderatism,” the study finds.

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