Commentary: The Academy at the Crossroads, Part Two

December 14, 2023 1 min read

Heather Mac Donald
City Journal

Excerpt: The pro-Hamas uprising that broke out across American universities after October 7 roused once-somnolent alumni and donors. That awakening has now produced a new university charter, called a “Vision for a New Future of the University of Pennsylvania,” drafted by Penn professors. The charter’s authors, along with Penn’s rebel donors, hope to make agreement with the new constitution a requirement for Penn’s new president.

Penn 2.0 overcomes in one stroke a weakness bedeviling a central strategy of campus reform. Those seeking to create new universities face the challenge that no new institution can offer the prize that a legacy university confers: status and bragging rights. It is prestige that drives the ever-more frenzied torrent of college applications, rather than any promise of knowledge. The beauty of the Penn 2.0 plan is that it re-founds Penn on a new footing, while maintaining Penn’s prestige-granting power.

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