On October 4 and 5 the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, headed by AHI board member Anne Neal, held their annual meeting of the celebrated Athena Roundtable to discuss educational reform. More than 100 distinguished citizens, including academics, philanthropists, politicians, and entrepreneurs, participated in the conference. Panelists focused on the woeful state of academic freedom and intellectual diversity on many elite college campuses and offered suggestions to trustees on how to improve governance.
Professor Bradfield spoke to the gathering on the origin of the AHI and its roots in a course, co-taught with Robert Paquette, on the idea and institution of property. Numerous guests asked for a copy of the syllabus. Bradfield delineated the scholarly aspirations of the Institute and expressed serious concern about the politicization of the classroom by providing examples from his own academic experience as a dean and as a teacher. He explained why independence from Hamilton College was essential to the maintenance of the integrity of the AHI’s scholarly mission. Participants received copies of the AHI’s charter and pocket Constitutions.
In appearing on the final panel of the day, Professor Bradfield underscored three points:
1. That successful activities aimed at educational reform would do better located outside the conventional loci of academic power.
2. That attempts to effect reforms on campus may well be met with hostility and bad faith by the administration and trustees.
3. That alumni, once honestly informed and treated with respect, especially with regard to their legitimate interest in accountability, would be a strong source of support for educational reform.