Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Stanford's conservative think tank is under fire

President Reagan's favorite think tank, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, has recently been attacked by some Stanford University faculty members who allege that it has become too partisan.

As a result, Stanford's trustees have been asked to look into the administration of the institution and its relationship to the university. The institution, founded in 1919 by Stanford alumnus Herbert Hoover (US President, 1929-33), stands as a prominent feature of both the academic and physical landscapes on the Palo Alto campus.

About these ads

The faculty senate last week asked the Stanford board of trustees for an inquiry, and university president Donald Kennedy said May 26 that it was likely the trustees would quickly appoint a committee to review the situation.

The Hoover Institution has been the chief ''idea mill'' for Reagan economic, defense, and foreign policy. Forty-three of its 60 senior scholars have worked for the President in some capacity over the last three years.

Faculty critics say the presence of ''a partisan research and policy organization, whether liberal or conservative, . . . raises serious questions concerning the academic independence, integrity, and reputation of the university.''

Some 1,400 students joined 69 faculty members in signing petitions requesting an investigation of the institution's relationship with the university.

No one disputes the conservative character of the Hoover Institution. In the 1960s, when liberalism was in the forefront, the institution's conservative voice stood out. And no one disputes its close relationship with the Reagan administration. Its director, W. Glenn Campbell, has long been a Reagan adviser and was appointed in 1968 by then-Governor Reagan to the Board of Regents of the University of California.

The institution's last annual report contained several pictures of Mr. Reagan and quoted him as crediting the think tank with having ''built the knowledge base that made possible the changes now taking place in Washington.''

In fact, some observers say that if the institution's publicists had not played up the Reagan connection so much in the report, the coming probe might never have been sought.

About these ads

But the criticisms leveled at the institution seem deeper than that. With an endowment of more than $60 million, the institution is able to offer joint appointments to Stanford faculty members, enabling them to teach less and spend more time on research and writing. Critics say this encroaches on the independence of the university faculty and could weaken the academic program for students.

There is growing sentiment among a significant number of academicians that the relationships between universities and institutions are too close. At Stanford, as on a number of other campuses, some of these critics want the institute-university ties severed.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.