“Conservative Affirmative Action” Pick…Actually Pretty Smart?

We would be remiss if we didn't circle back to a story we've discussed a few times, the search by the University of Colorado, headed by ex-GOP kingpin and gubernatorial candidate Bruce Benson, for a "visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy." We haven't, as our readers know, had much good to say about this act of "conservative affirmative action," which could also be considered an attempt to shoehorn ideology into our state's flagship campus that just hasn't demonstrated the intellectual rigor to be there.

But as the Boulder Daily Camera reports and we must concede, they've actually found an intriguing candidate.

Steven Hayward, a "green conservative," will be the University of Colorado's first visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy.

Hayward was one of three finalists for the position. On Wednesday, CU announced his appointment, which will begin in the fall.

In an interview, Hayward said he'd like to teach a course on "free market environmentalism." He'll also teach political science courses on constitutional law and American political thought. Hayward said he would like to co-teach a lecture with a professor who has liberal leanings.

Dr. Steven Hayward is a former F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the arch-conservative American Enterprise Institute, and a distinguished fellow at Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio. Discussions with people who know this man don't tell us that liberals will agree with him, but he is an intellectually capable and honest thinker who really might enrich students' education. We found a very interesting talk from Dr. Hayward on the AEI's website, titled "How to think seriously about the planet: The case for an environmental conservatism." You may not agree with all of it, but it's definitely worth watching:

As we've said, the privately-funded "visiting professor in conservative thought" seems to be a hypocritical response to the frequent charge of ideological bias leveled against higher education by the right–that, or at the very least, an admission something as antithetical to modern conservatism as affirmative action may sometimes have a role.

In this case, our disapproval may be complicated by the fact that they recruited an actual worthy scholar.

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlue says:

    Meh. I'm glad there are Rs who admit conservation SHOULD matter. How about a plan to make it really matter?

  2. ArapaGOP says:

    I am shocked that Colorado Pols thinks it's even possible for a conservative to be intelligent. Kudos.

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    A great example of the benefits of affirmative Action. C.U. doesn't have many professors with a conservative viewpoint and this will improve the school.

    • gaf says:

      Have you done a survey of the economics, business and finance departments?

    • ElliotFladen says:

      Couldn't some argue that this might be a liberal affirmative action program? 


      • ajb says:

        Only if you consider women a minority.

        • ElliotFladen says:

          Gender studies can be studied by men. 

          • ajb says:

            True. So what's your point?

            • ElliotFladen says:

              My point is that gender studies will tend to attract more liberals just as austrian economics would attract more conservatives if it were taught at more universities.

              • ajb says:

                I'm still not sure what point you're trying to make. Are you saying that gender studies is not worthy of a major? Are you saying that any major that is more attractive to one political leaning or another is an example of affirmative action? Or are you saying that gender studies is tainted by politics simply because it attracts liberal students? 

                • ElliotFladen says:

                  What I am saying is that if the program above is an "affirmative action program" for Conservatives than Gender Studies and many other college programs can be looked at the same way for liberals. 


                  • DaftPunk says:

                    You may be saying it, but you're not supporting it.

                    You'd need to show that a particular political viewpoint is a requirement to teach in the field.  You haven't.

                    • sxp151 says:

                      Exactly. A political science professor of any ideology could teach a course about conservative philosophy. This job is totally different: it's a person specifically hired to advocate right-wing views. If Hayward ever applied any rigorous study to his field and concluded that conservative ideology wasn't the solution to all the country's problems, he'd be fired from this job faster than Ward Churchill.

                    • ElliotFladen says:

                      Good luck getting tenure in gender studies if you oppose the idea that the gender gap is fully due to discrimination.  Actually, good luck in getting tenure in many academic positions with that view.

                    • ajb says:

                      Actually, Elliot, I think you'd be surprised by what you hear coming out of gender studies. My wife is a climate scientist and has served on several committees looking at recruitment and retention of women in science. The gender gap is real and its roots are quite complex. Overt discrimination certainly exists, but it's only one factor out of many. This isn't new, though it sounds like it may be to you.

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      You're so right.  You could never get to be president of Harvard!

      • Idiot Flatent says:

        Clearly so.

        Only liberals care about the empowerment of women.

        • ElliotFladen says:

          Is every cause you care about worthy of a university degree?  Should we have a university degree in union organizing/busting?  Or a university degree in Red Sox/Yankees studies? And whoever said that gender studies was undisputedly about "empowerment" of women? 

          • BlueCat says:

            Well clearly empowerment of women is something the right considers to be leftie.  Also viewing "affirmative action" as a dirty word (phrase really) is a rightie attitude.  Seems that if, for the sake of intellectual diversity, the University feels the need to make a special place for a conservative and specifically conservative thought, that would meet the definition affirmative action. So what? It's not an insult, just a description of a policy.

            It doesn't bother me in the least.  In spite of the admittedly liberal bent of a majority of college professors, the majority of white male graduates seem to come through mainly Republican so if there's a brain washing effort going on it's not working very well. I doubt  affirmative action for conservatives will be much more successful with brainwashing the liberal kids. I find this a mildly amusing but no big deal.

          • Curmudgeon says:

            I'm wondering why studying the history of gender or racial inequality in this country and others is "empowerment" or "a cause"……so that the simple information is apparently advocacy of some sort.

    • ajb says:

      David, this begs the question, why are so many scientists left-leaning in their politics? I recently read, and maybe it was discussed here, that as recently as the Nixon years, the political affiliation of scientists was evenly split. now it's decidedly one-sided. 

      It used to be that science informed policy. In today's republican party, that is no longer true. Today's GOP rejects science, which naturally drives scientists to the Democratic Party.

      • Davie says:

        Scientists aren't necessarily pushed into becoming Democrats.  More likely, children raised in households that don't respect science or value critical thinking, are much less likely to pursue that as a career.

        There's a lot more money to be made in Crony Capitalism on golf courses and pyramid sales schemes than there is in pursuing painstaking research and disciplined thought required to make scientific breakthroughs.

        • ajb says:

          I'd agree with the first statement, but not the second. After all, red states tend to be those farthest from the centers of power, finance, and wealth. To borrow a righty talking point, Republicans are more likely to be takers than makers.

  4. Sir Robin says:

    For myself, the jury is still out.

  5. Voyageur says:

    I wouldn't call AEI "arch conservative," Pols.   Mainstream conservative is more like it, unlike arch-conservative like Heritage Foundation or libertarian like CATO.   

  6. ElliotFladen says:

    Why did you use a symbol for Cato's O? 

    • Voyageur says:

      If that's directed to me, Elliot, I don't know what you mean.   I did uppercase Cato, which was an error, but used no symbol.   If you're referring to my avatar, it's a duck-billed platypus.

  7. BlueCat says:

    True but where are they going to find someone both sufficiently ignorant to please the far right and sufficiently intelligent to be a professor?  And never mind probably being a RINO by today's GOP standards.  Isn't going into a profession not likely to put you into the top .01% income-wise proof that you're a bleeding heart loser?

    If he were a real righty wouldn't he be pursuing wealth the old fashioneded way?  As a silver spoon scion in the business of taking over troubled companies, loading them with debt, sucking profit out of them to park offshore and leaving them to die while slashing jobs here and sending them overseas?

    The fact that he's a professor in the first place makes him highly suspect as a true contemporary era conservative. It's a loser job. It's not taking full advantage of the opportunity society.  Heck, a very successful plumber could make as much or more. He might even have liberal friends! He might even have drinks with them. Dinner, even, perish the thought! The rightie blogs better get on this right away.

    • BlueCat says:

      Oops.  Messed up and used wrong box, I guess. I meant this as a reply to Gray way back where he says it will be interesting to see when the right starts attacking this affirmative action conservative prof as too liberal.  Apparently quite a few of us regulars are clueless because this seems to happen to a lot of us here. Could have sworn I hit the right reply.

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