DENVER - One of the nation's most liberal universities has successfully completed its quest for a conservative professor.
On Wednesday, Steven Hayward was named the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado Boulder. The first-of-its-kind position is being funded by $1 million in private donations.
Mr. Hayward, who holds a doctorate in American studies from the Claremont Graduate School, writes frequently for a variety of publications and serves as a distinguished fellow at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio.
Mr. Hayward was selected by a 10-member advisory committee that began identifying prospective candidates last summer. He and the two other finalists — Linda Chavez, former director of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and a CU graduate, and Brookings Institution fellow Ron Haskins — visited the campus last month to teach a class, meet with officials and deliver a lecture.
"This is a bold experiment for the university and me to see whether the ideological spectrum can be broadened in a serious and constructive way," Mr. Hayward said in a statement.
The three-year pilot program became a catalyst for debate even before Mr. Hayward's selection. Some faculty and students have griped that the position amounts to affirmative action for right-wingers. Even conservatives were divided on the idea, with some saying that the scholar will be pegged as a circus animal or sideshow act. But supporters argue that the position will bring badly needed intellectual diversity to the liberal Boulder campus.
Despite his misgivings about the program, Jon Caldara, president of the free-market Independence Institute in Denver, applauded the committee's selection.
"What a superb choice — his work speaks for itself, and he's got an incredible reputation," said Mr. Caldara, who earned his undergraduate degree at the university. "He's going to be an anomaly, but since there's only one of him at a campus of 30,000, that's a ratio CU can handle."
Former Chancellor Bud Peterson, a Republican, proposed hiring a conservative scholar with a $7 million to $9 million endowment in 2007, but officials put the idea on hold after the 2008 economic downturn. The plan was later downsized and converted to a pilot program.
Mr. Hayward is scheduled to teach four undergraduate courses starting in the fall: Constitutional Law 1 and 2, American Political Thought, and Free-Market Environmentalism.
While Mr. Hayward is expected to bring unique conservative perspectives to the Boulder campus, he said the college classroom should not be a forum for political advocacy.
"Good teaching should make all students, of whatever disposition, better thinkers," Mr. Hayward said. "In the humanities, this should be done by considering fairly the full range of perspectives on a subject. That's the way I intend to conduct classes while I am visiting at the university, and I hope that students of every kind of opinion will feel welcome in my classroom."
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