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Dean Braden says “Do your homework!”

CHASS Dean Jeff Braden had a letter to the editor in the N&O over the weekend in response to a letter earlier in the week criticizing the summer reading materials at N.C. State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.  My hat’s off to Jeff.  He calls ’em as he sees ’em and he’s not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, be it to the left or right. 

Eric Ferreri highlights Braden’s letter and the letter he countered in his News & Observer Blog, Campus Notes.

A point/counterpoint on liberalism in academia


Too bad the writer of the letter captioned “Shocks from the left” didn’t do more homework. Her refrain is familiar – that leftist, liberal professors force students to read trendy anti-American screeds under the guise of required summer readings for incoming freshmen. She seizes on this summer’s reading selections at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State as proof, declaring that college faculty select titles to persuade young people to reject everything they thought was good.

Really? Here at N.C. State, last year’s summer reading selection was “Three Cups of Tea,” a book that describes Greg Mortenson’s efforts to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen described Mortenson’s efforts as the single biggest blow to the Taliban and requires all U.S. officers serving in Afghanistan to read the same book we asked our 2009 freshmen to read.

The year before, we picked Da Chen’s “Sounds of the River,” about China’s corrupt political system (and even more corrupt university professors). When my daughter entered Carolina in 2004 her summer reading was “Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point.” Were these selections also driven by a leftist agenda to indoctrinate youth – or is the situation more complex than the letter would suggest?

The writer is welcome to read our book selections, attend our public lectures, and yes, even take our courses. However, she’ll have to do her homework if she wants to pass our classes.

Jeff Braden

Dean, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, N.C. State University

Passion Rules! (and I’m sure Dean Braden would agree)

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PS — I think it’s an even more interesting contrast when you see my blog post above last week’s post about two N.C. State female ROTC graduates being selected as some of the first women to serve on U.S. Navy submarines.  And didn’t we just hire a retired Navy Admiral to manage the N.C. State Alumni Association.  Do your homework — that’s an understatement.

1 comment

1 Rob S { 05.10.10 at 10:30 am }

Thanks for sharing. I heard some chirping about this topic but am appreciative of the Dean’s response. As a proud alum of CHASS, I’m growing more and more fond of our Dean…

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