- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

W. Glenn Campbell led the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, an autonomous library and research center at Stanford University, for 30 years. During this time Hoover gained world renown. Now Mr. Campbells history, "The Competition of Ideas: How My Colleagues and I Built the Hoover Institution," provides significant insights into the reality of the modern American university.
The liberal-left faculties do not "follow truth wherever it may lead." They are censorial bodies that seek to stamp out views different from their own. "Political correctness" has transformed American universities into institutions that have as much resemblance to propaganda mills as to centers of learning.
The book also provides valuable insights into the person of President Herbert Hoover. Caricatured by liberals, Hoover was, in fact, the best of men. Considering the deterioration in American society and culture, it is doubtful if the United States today could produce a person of Hoovers character or a man as steadfast as Mr. Campbell.
Raised on a Canadian farm without running water and indoor plumbing, Mr. Campbell was one of seven children. He has happy memories of his childhood and speaks highly of his parents and siblings. He is proud of his wife, Rita, a Harvard Ph.D. and a descendant of British economist David Ricardo. Mr. Campbell, also a Harvard Ph.D., studied with such illustrious economists as Joseph Schumpeter, Gottfried von Haberler and Wassily Leontief.
Determined to recover his library and institution from left-wingers, under whose control Stanford President Wallace Sterling had allowed the Hoover Institution to fall, President Hoover secured Mr. Campbells appointment as director in 1959. Realizing that Mr. Campbell was not a man he could control, Mr. Sterling tried to block the appointment, using unethical means that reveal once again that liberals will sacrifice their integrity to the service of their ideology. But Mr. Sterling was no match for Hoover, or, as it turned out, for Mr. Campbell.
Defeated on Mr. Campbells appointment, the liberals next step was to attempt to take over the Hoover Institution three months after Mr. Campbell was appointed. Faculty liberals demanded the power to rewrite the statement of the institutions purpose and to strip it of its autonomy. Arrogantly, they claimed that the former U.S. president had caused Stanford embarrassment and was a danger to academic freedom. They meant, of course, that he stood in their way. Mr. Sterling tried, without success, to get Mr. Campbell to agree to the new arrangements.
The aged Hoover, now 86, smashed the liberals plot with the flick of his pen. He wrote to Stanfords trustees: "It might easily be presumed that I know the purposes of the Institution, since I founded it. But a group of the faculty has demanded that the Trustees expunge my statement on the purposes of the Institution and substitute a statement on its purposes to be prepared by them. I do not believe that the Trustees will countenance such an insult."
Mr. Campbell built Hoover into a mighty institution. By 1991 the Economist of London found Hoover to be the top think tank in the world. In addition to hiring distinguished scholars, Mr. Campbell aggressively built the collection of important historical documents begun by President Hoover. A highly successful fund-raiser, Mr. Campbell provided the institution (despite its lack of alumni) with a larger endowment than the Stanford Law School, Business School, Engineering School, School of Education and university library.
Mr. Campbell has a tenacious loyalty to Herbert Hoover and to Hoovers vision of the institution, which continued after President Hoover passed away in 1964. This loyalty complicated Mr. Campbells life and his relationship with the university, whose liberal-left faculty and administrators continued to try to seize control and subvert the institutions mission.
The last attempt was led in the late 1980s by Stanford President Donald Kennedy, a pioneer of the "political correctness" movement. Mr. Kennedy is, perhaps, one of the more immature people to have been appointed a university president. His loony and reckless behavior was too much even for Stanford and led to his resignation in 1992 but not until he had exhausted his credibility with scandals and his drawn-out battle to force Mr. Campbells retirement as director at age 65.
In the end, the foolishness of Stanfords faculty cost the university the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and many of President Hoovers important papers. Without fail, liberal academics will cut off their own noses to spite Republican presidents.
Mr. Campbells success as an intellectual entrepreneur is an inspiration to those who are defending the integrity of free inquiry against "political correctness" in the universities today.

Paul Craig Roberts is the chairman of the Institute for Political Economy.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide