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A university is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. In the United States, universities must offer graduate degrees; institutions offering only undergraduate degrees are colleges.

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  • Enter by this gateway and seek the way of honor, the light of truth, the will to work for men.
    • Edwin Anderson Alderman, inscription on the archway at the entrance to the medical college, University of Virginia, Charlottesville; reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).


  • The university, in a society ruled by public opinion, was to have been an island of intellectual freedom where all views were investigated without restriction. … But by consenting to play an active or “positive,” a participatory role in society, the university has become inundated and saturated with the backflow of society’s “problems.” Preoccupied with questions of Health, Sex, Race, War, academics make their reputations and their fortunes. … Any proposed reforms of liberal education which might bring the university into conflict with the whole of the U.S.A. are unthinkable. Increasingly, the people “inside” are identical in their appetites and motives with the people “outside” the university.
  • By making social hierarchies and the reproduction of these hierarchies appear based upon the hierarchy of ‘gifts’, merits, or skill established and ratified by its sanctions, or, in a word, by converting social hierarchies into academic hierarchies, the educational system fulfils a function of legitimation which is more and more necessary to the perpetuation of the ‘social order’ as the evolution of the power relationship between classes tends more completely to exclude the imposition of a hierarchy based upon the crude and ruthless affirmation of the power relationship.
    • Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1973), p. 84


  • A penetrating observer of social problems has pointed out recently that whereas wealthy families once were the chief benefactors of the universities, now industry has taken over this role. Support of education is something no one quarrels with-but this need not blind us to the fact that research supported by pesticide manufacturers is not likely to be directed at discovering facts indicating unfavorable effects of pesticides.
    • Rachel Carson Speech to the Women's National Press Club (December 5, 1962) In Rachel Carson: Silent Spring & Other Writings on the Environment
  • Fellows of colleges in the universities are in one sense the recipients of alms, because they receive funds which originally were of an eleemosynary character.
    • John Duke Coleridge, C.J., Harrison v. Carter (1876), L. R. 2 Com. PI. D. 36: Reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 242.
  • ...One of the ways in which all universities could contribute substantially to their home societies is by helping students obtain a better understanding of the development and interdependencies over time of our seemingly fragmented globe.
  • "I didn't get the point", said Pig. "That's because you've got four pounds of provolone where most people got brains!", Mark shouted, shaking his fist. "This is college, you dumb bastard. This is a place where you're supposed to argue and learn and get pissed off. You don't go around choking your buddies just because they don't happen to believe what you believe."
  • My interest in Kipnis’s book was sparked initially by my own history. I was one of a small group of women who fought to bring in a sexual harassment code at my college in the late 1980s, and what I remember is how badly we felt it was needed, and how much resistance there was to the idea that clever people could also be in the habit of pinching bums, or worse. But I am also the product of a student-lecturer relationship: my brother and I, and two of our sisters, would not exist if my father had not twice married those that he taught. I’m sure my father’s behaviour was, knowing both him and the times (I am the eldest, and I was born in 1969), sometimes reprehensible. No doubt he would, and would be expected to, behave differently now. Nevertheless, it seems completely mad to me to try to outlaw relationships between what are, after all, consenting adults. Where else are people expected to meet, if not in the places where they spend most of their time? Imagine if it was decreed that theatre directors could not sleep with actors, that editors were forbidden from having affairs with writers, and that junior teachers were not allowed to fall in love with more senior staff. The very idea is absurd.
  • I should have all manner of tenderness for the right of the College; they are nurseries of Religion and Learning, and therefore all donations for increase and augmentation of their revenue are to be liberally expounded.
    • William Cowper, 1st Earl Cowper, L.C., Devit v. College of Dublin (1720). Gilbert Eq. Ca. 248: Reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 242.


The library is the university. ~ Shelby Foote
  • A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. The library is the university.
    • Shelby Foote quoted in: North Carolina Libraries, Vol. 51-54 (1993), p. 162


Our school systems are all nonsynergetic. We take the whole child and fractionate the scope of his or her comprehending... to become preoccupied with elements or isolated facts only... We may well ask how it happened that the entire scheme of advanced education is devoted exclusively to ever narrower specialization. We find that the historical beginnings of schools and tutoring were established, and economically supported by illiterate and vastly ambitious warlords who required a wide variety of brain slaves with which to logistically and ballistically overwhelm those who opposed their expansion of physical conquest... The warlord made all those about him differentiators and reserved the function of integration to himself. ~ Buckminster Fuller
  • We are in an age that assumes the narrowing trends of specialization to be logical, natural, and desirable. Consequently, society expects all earnestly responsible communication to be crisply brief. . . . In the meantime, humanity has been deprived of comprehensive understanding... It has also resulted in the individual's leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which, in turn, leads to war.




  • One of the characteristics of the university is that it is made up of professors who train professors, or professionals training professionals. Education was this no longer directed toward people who were to be educated with a view to become fully developed human beings, but to specialists, in other that they might learn how to train other specialists. This is the danger of “Scholasticism,” that philosophical tendency which began to be sketched at the end of antiquity, developed in the Middle Ages, and whose presence is still recognizable in philosophy today.
    • Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase (1995), p. 270.
  • College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.
  • We were a small group of college friends who kept together after our course was over, and continued to share the same views and the same ideals. Not one of us thought of his future career or financial position. I should not praise this attitude in grown-up people, but I value it highly in a young man. Except where it is dried up by the corrupting influence of vulgar respectability, youth is everywhere unpractical, and is especially bound to be so in a young country which has many ideals and has realised few of them. Besides, the unpractical sphere is not always a fool's paradise: every aspiration for the figure involves some degree of imagination; and , but for unpractical people, practical life would never get beyond a tiresome repetition of the old routine.


  • Transforming hereditary privilege into ‘merit,’ the existing system of educational selection, with the Big Three [Harvard, Princeton, and Yale] as its capstone, provides the appearance if not the substance of equality of opportunity. In so doing, it legitimates the established order as one that rewards ability over the prerogatives of birth. The problem with a ‘meritocracy,’ then, is not only that its ideals are routinely violated (though that is true), but also that it veils the power relations beneath it. For the definition of ‘merit,’ including the one that now prevails in America’s leading universities, always bears the imprint of the distribution of power in the larger society. Those who are able to define ‘merit’ will almost invariably possess more of it, and those with greater resources—cultural, economic and social—will generally be able to ensure that the educational system will deem their children more meritorious.
    • Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (Houghton Mifflin: 2005), pp. 549-550
  • Two universities have been founded in this country, amply endowed and furnished with professors in the different sciences; and I should be sorry that those who have been educated at either of them should undervalue the benefits of such an education.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., King v. The College of Physicians (1797), 7 T. R. 288: Reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 242.
  • Being a student in the late sixties was a different experience than being one in the early sixties. For one thing, there was the draft. Neither Abbie Hoffman nor Tom Hayden nor Mario Savio had been subjected to a draft—a draft that threatened to pull students into a war in which Americans were killing and dying by the thousands. Perhaps more important, the war itself, with its cruel and pointless violence, was seen on television every night, and no matter how much they reviled it, these students were powerless to stop it. They could not even vote if they were under the age of twenty-one, though they could be drafted at eighteen. Despite all these differences, one thing, unfortunately, had not changed—the university itself. If the American university has in recent years been thought of as a sanctuary for leftist thought and activism, that is a legacy of the late sixties graduates. In 1968, universities were still very conservative institutions. Academia had enthusiastically supported World War II, moved seamlessly to full support of the Cold War, and, though starting to squirm a bit, tended to support the war in Vietnam. This was why the universities imagined their campuses to be suitable and desirable places for such activities as recruitment of executives by Dow Chemical, not to mention recruitment of officers by the military. And while universities were famous for their intellectuals like Herbert Marcuse or C. Wright Mills, a more typical product was Harvard's Henry Kissinger. The Ivy League in particular was well known as a bastion of conservative northeast elitism. Columbia University had Dwight Eisenhower as an emeritus member of its board of directors. Active members included CBS founder William S. Paley; Arthur H. Sulzberger, the septuagenarian publisher of The New York Times; his son Arthur O. Sulzberger, who would take over after his father's death later in the year; Manhattan district attorney Frank S. Hogan; William A. M. Burden, director of Lockheed, a major Vietnam War weapons contractor; Walter Thayer of the Whitney Corporation, a Republican fund-raiser who worked for Nixon in 1968; a Lawrence A. Wein, film producer, advisor to Lyndon Johnson, and trustee of Consolidated Edison. Later in the year students would produce a paper alleging connections between Columbia trustees and the CIA. Columbia and other Ivy League schools produced leaders in industry, publishing, and finance—the people behind politics, the people behind war, the very people C. Wright Mills identified in his book as "the power elite."


  • The question is frequently asked: why there is a school of theology attached to every University? The answer is easy: It is, that the Universities may subsist, and that the instruction may not become corrupt. Originally, the Universities were only schools of theology, to which other faculties were joined, as subjects around their Queen.
    • Joseph de Maistre, Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions (1809), XXXVIII
  • Consider what it means for an institution to designate all of its faculty members as “mandatory reporters of sexual assault.” The policy effectively demands that every faculty member disclose the details of any student account of a sexual assault, whether it has been expressed in a course assignment, a classroom discussion, or a private conversation. Faculty will be required to make the disclosure to campus officials, even if the student has expressly indicated a desire not to file an official complaint. These requirements will have a chilling effect on students’ willingness to talk about difficult experiences with anyone on campus, even those experiences that may have nothing to do with sexual violence.
To override a college student’s wishes in the matter of reporting suspected sexual violence is especially problematic, since sexual violence can be a particularly insidious kind of coercion, undermining a victim’s sense of control over the most personal details of human experience. Colleges should not be in the business of further wresting a student’s control over those details. Moreover, since most victims of sexual violence are women we must reject any policy that makes us complicit in cultural institutions and practices that tend to discourage young women from speaking in their own voices.


  • No hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to 10 percent of a borrower’s income. And that's good. But now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. (Applause.) Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.


  • I think, as well (on what might be considered the leftish side), that the incremental remake of university administrations into analogues of private corporations is a mistake. I think that the science of management is a pseudo-discipline. I believe that government can, sometimes, be a force for good, as well as the necessary arbiter of a small set of necessary rules. Nonetheless, I do not understand why our society is providing public funding to institutions and educators whose stated, conscious, and explicit aim is the demolition of the culture that supports them. Such people have a perfect right to their opinions and actions, if they remain lawful. But they have no reasonable claim to public funding. If radical right-wingers were receiving state funding for political operations disguised as university courses, as radical left-wingers clearly are, the uproar from progressives across North America would be deafening.
  • Most Americans are not aware how morally and intellectually destructive American colleges — and, increasingly, high schools and even elementary schools — have become. So, they spend tens of thousands after-tax dollars to send their sons and daughters to college.
    • Dennis Prager, PRAGER: Are You Sure You Want To Play Russian Roulette With Your Child's Values?, May 25 2019, The Daily Wire
  • But today, to send your child to college is to play Russian roulette with their values. There is a good chance your child will return from college alienated from you, from America, from Western civilization and from whatever expression of any Bible-based religion in which you raised your child.
    • Dennis Prager, PRAGER: Are You Sure You Want To Play Russian Roulette With Your Child's Values?, May 25 2019, The Daily Wire


  • And the people in the houses
    All went to the university
    Where they were put in boxes
    And they came out all the same


  • Colleges aren’t about training kids for the real world, or teaching them significant modes of thinking, or examining timeless truths. Universities aren’t about skill sets, either – at least in the humanities. They’re about two things: credentialism and social connections.
    • Ben Shapiro, Famous Actresses Paid Bundles Of Money To Bribe Their Kids' Way Into College. Here's Why. March 12 2019, Daily Wire
  • In our society, there is an easy way to be perceived as intellectually meritorious: point to your degree. Those with a college degree all-too-often sneer at those without one, as though lack of a college degree were an indicator of innate ability or future lack of success. That simply isn’t true.
    • Ben Shapiro, Famous Actresses Paid Bundles Of Money To Bribe Their Kids' Way Into College. Here's Why. March 12 2019, Daily Wire


  • The university system in 2014, it's like the Catholic Church circa 1514... You have this priestly class of professors that doesn't do very much work; people are buying indulgences in the form of amassing enormous debt for the sort of the secular salvation that a diploma represents. And what I think is also similar to the 16th century is that the Reformation will come largely from the outside.


  • Nothing is more certain than that whatever has to court public favor for its support will sooner or later be prostituted to utilitarian ends. The educational institutions of the United States afford a striking demonstration of this truth. Virtually without exception, liberal education, that is to say, education centered about ideas and ideals, has fared best in those institutions which draw their income from private sources. They have been able … to insist that education be not entirely a means for breadwinning. This means that they have been relatively free to promote pure knowledge and the training of the mind. … In state institutions, always at the mercy of elected bodies and of the public generally, and under obligation to show practical fruits for their expenditure of money, the movement toward specialism and vocationalism has been irresistible. They have never been able to say that they will do what they will with their own because their own is not private. It seems fair to say that the opposite of the private is the prostitute.
  • I shall be as tender of the privileges of the University of Oxford as any man living, having the greatest veneration for that learned body.
    • Willes, L.C.J., Welles v. Trahern (1740), Willes' Rep. 241: Reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 242.


  • When we see a woman bartering beauty for gold, we look upon such a one as no other than a common prostitute; but she who rewards the passion of some worthy youth with it, gains at the same time our approbation and esteem. It is the very same with philosophy: he who sets it forth for public sale, to be disposed of to the highest bidder, is a sophist, a public prostitute.
  • To offer one’s beauty for money to all comers is called prostitution. … So is it with wisdom. Those who offer it to all comers for money are known as sophists, prostitutors of wisdom.


  • On too many campuses, a new attitude about due process—and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty—has taken hold, one that echoes the infamous logic of Edwin Meese, who served in Ronald Reagan’s administration as attorney general, in his argument against the Miranda warning. “The thing is,” Meese said, “you don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.”
    There is no doubt that until recently, many women’s claims of sexual assault were reflexively and widely disregarded—or that many still are in some quarters. (One need look no further than the many derogatory responses received by the women who came forward last year to accuse then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual violations.) Action to redress that problem was—and is—fully warranted. But many of the remedies that have been pushed on campus in recent years are unjust to men, infantilize women, and ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the fight against sexual violence.
    Severe restrictions were placed on the ability of the accused to question the account of the accuser, in order to prevent intimidation or trauma. Eventually the administration praised a “single investigator” model, whereby the school appoints a staff member to act as detective, prosecutor, judge, and jury. The letter defined sexual violence requiring university investigation broadly to include “rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion,” with no definitions provided. It also characterized sexually harassing behavior as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including remarks. Schools were told to investigate any reports of possible sexual misconduct, including those that came from a third party and those in which the alleged victim refused to cooperate. (Paradoxically, they were also told to defer to alleged victims’ wishes, creating no small amount of confusion among administrators.)
  • GEOFFREY STONE, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and its former dean, told me he believes that the integrity of the legal system requires rules designed to prevent innocent people from being punished, and that these same principles should apply on campus. But he is concerned that severe sanctions are being imposed without the necessary protections for the accused. As he wrote in HuffPost, “For a college or university to expel a student for sexual assault is a matter of grave consequence both for the institution and for the student. Such an expulsion will haunt the student for the rest of his days, especially in the world of the Internet. Indeed, it may well destroy his chosen career prospects.”
  • As Jeannie Suk Gersen and her husband and Harvard Law School colleague, Jacob Gersen, wrote last year in a California Law Review article, “The Sex Bureaucracy,” the “conduct classified as illegal” on college campuses “has grown substantially, and indeed, it plausibly covers almost all sex students are having today.”
  • A troubling paradox within the activist community, and increasingly among administrators, is the belief that while women who make a complaint should be given the strong benefit of the doubt, women who deny they were assaulted should not necessarily be believed. The rules at many schools, created in response to federal directives, require employees (except those covered by confidentiality protections, such as health-care providers) to report to the Title IX office any instance of possible sexual assault or harassment of which they become aware. One result is that offhand remarks, rumors, and the inferences drawn by observers of ambiguous interactions can trigger investigations; sometimes these are not halted even when the alleged victim denies that an assault occurred.
  • There are no national data that let us know the prevalence of third-party reports, but they appear to be a significant source of allegations. The University of Michigan’s most recent “Student Sexual Misconduct Annual Report” says that the school’s Office for Institutional Equity “often receives complaints about incidents from third parties.” Yale releases a semiannual report of all possible sexual-assault and harassment complaints. Its report for the latter half of 2015 included a new category: third-party reports in which the alleged victim, after being contacted by the Title IX office, refused to cooperate. These cases made up more than 30 percent of all undergraduate assault allegations.
  • And while some college administrators express concern about due process, that concern does not always appear to be top of mind, even though lawsuits are piling up. Some 170 suits about unfair treatment have been filed by accused students over the past several years. As K. C. Johnson, the co-author, with Stuart Taylor Jr., of the recent book The Campus Rape Frenzy, notes, at least 60 have so far resulted in findings favorable to them. The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, one of the country’s largest higher-education law firms and consulting practices specializing in Title IX, recently released a white paper, “Due Process and the Sex Police.” It noted that higher-education institutions are “losing case after case in federal court on what should be very basic due process protections. Never before have colleges been losing more cases than they are winning, but that is the trend as we write this.” The paper warned that at some colleges, “overzealousness to impose sexual correctness”—including the idea that anything less than “utopian” sex is punishable—“is causing a backlash that is going to set back the entire consent movement.”


  • America’s top universities should abandon their long misadventure into politics, retrain their gaze on their core strengths and rebuild their reputations as centers of research and learning

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