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Shafik and Other College Presidents Have Mission Confusion

: Betsy Mccaughey on

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik is urging university leaders across the country to do some "serious soul searching." Good advice. She should start with her own soul. Shafik has the wrong idea about the purpose of a university.

She and likeminded college presidents are turning preeminent universities into factories, churning out social activists who are adept at shouting down their opponents, squaring off against cops and vandalizing buildings but who acquire little knowledge and few reasoning skills during college.

Harvard, Yale, UPenn and Stanford are searching for new presidents. Cornell joined the ranks last week when its president Martha E. Pollack resigned.

These university search committees need to do more than find replacements for their departed presidents. They need to restore universities to their true mission: educating students and producing groundbreaking research.

Shafik is suffering from mission confusion.

In an op-ed in the Financial Times last week, she unwittingly revealed why she's failing at Columbia. She wrote that a university's mission is fourfold: education, research, public engagement and service. She's dead wrong about that. Only the first two fit the mission of a university.

 

Public engagement is not a university's job. Taking an official position on issues of the day --whether it's the Paris Climate Accord or Israel's war on Hamas -- incorrectly signals to students and faculty that there is only one right way to think.

Community service is also not a university's mission. But Columbia and other universities offer students credit for volunteering in invariably left-wing causes and taking courses labeled "social justice." Smith College offers a Community Engagement & Social Change Concentration. Such courses are garbage. They're a license for leftist faculty to espouse their own viewpoint instead of educating.

Lack of education is somewhat to blame for the turmoil over Israel at Columbia and other colleges. All indications are that very few of the Columbia protesters chanting "from the river to the sea" even know what river or what sea they're chanting about. Most of those shouting accusations of "genocide" haven't examined the far higher ratio of civilian to military deaths in Belgium and the Netherlands during World War II or in Iraq or Afghanistan. Blame their teachers for failing to bring any of these facts to bear.

Sadly, Shafik didn't respond like an educator. Instead, she caved to the agitators, allowing the antisemitic, anti-American forces to win by shutting down Columbia's campus and canceling graduation.

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