- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Students seeking a classical education focused on Western civilization and a philosophy of limited government may soon be able to take classes on line at the first Internet university geared toward conservatives.

Officials from the new cyber-college, named Yorktownuniversity.com after the final battle of the Revolutionary War, said they initially hope to raise $1.25 million from investors through sales of common stock needed to finance the higher education venture.

Their official initial public offering (IPO) was announced yesterday by the university’s president and chief executive officer, Richard J. Bishirjian, who said his school is focused on providing an “unbiased” education to “the literally millions of American conservatives who feel disenfranchised by the uniformly and relentlessly liberal teachings of our colleges and universities.”

“The demand is there, and the supply is short,” said Mr. Bishirjian, a businessman, author and veteran educator who will teach classes in government at the on-line school.

“We believe conservatives will come to our site in search of an education that cannot be found elsewhere,” he said.

Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation and chairman of the school’s board of directors, said Yorktown’s prospectus is available for view on the World Wide Web. Shares of stock cost $10 and will be sold without a brokerage house.

Mr. Weyrich said interest in the on-line university has been high from scholars and prospective students who are interested in a curriculum that focuses on the study of Western civilization, philosophy, and American and constitutional history courses that he said have taken a back seat at most of the nation’s colleges and universities.

That abandonment of a “core curriculum,” noted Mr. Bishirjian, occurred during the 1960s and ‘70s, during the turbulent Vietnam War era.

“The result has been a general academic decline,” he said. “Our intention at Yorktownuniversity.com is to provide balance to correct the perverse trend in academia.”

The nonsectarian, for-profit college plans to enroll students in June and to offer two initial majors: one in government and another in managerial economics. Cost per course is $299.

About $200,000 of the startup capital has been raised so far, much of it from home-school parents and grandparents, said school officials, who hope to target as prospective students home schoolers, military personnel, working adults who need a four-year degree and others “seeking teachers who share their values.”

The school, to be based in Virginia, has received approval from the State Higher Education Council of Virginia to award baccalaureate degrees. So far, 42 faculty in the United States and abroad are under contract to teach the on-line courses, Mr. Bishirjian said.

Richard Zeller, a tenured professor of sociology who retired in protest from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University after they balked at his teaching of a course on political correctness, will teach such a course at Yorktown.

“I wanted to be a part of a university … that educates, not brainwashes,” students, said Mr. Zeller, who attended a news conference in Washington yesterday where the IPO was announced.

Added Donald Devine, who also will teach a class on public administration at the school: “The simple fact is that many of our colleges and universities no longer believe in freedom of speech and open, respectful discussion of ideas.”

Academia “clearly is dominated by a particular point of view … that is not especially open to Western traditional values and institutions,” he said.

Advisers and board members to the school include Virginia lawyer Gilbert K. Davis; Maryland Republican leader Ellen R. Sauerbrey; Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee; and Reagan author and adviser Peter Hannaford.

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