Hoover Fellows and Academic Freedom:

Hoover and Conservative Politics

On October 8, 2002, the Stanford Daily ran an article with the headline "Hoover fellows help make policy on Iraq." The headline refers to the 8 Hoover fellows on the influential 31-member Defense Policy Board, which meets regularly with top administrative officials such as the Secretary of Defense; the Chicago Tribune described the board as "playing an influential role in pushing the Bush administration toward an invasion of Iraq, generating support for military action as members seek to transform a controversial idea into a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy."

The 8 members on the Defense Policy Board are: Richard Allen, Martin Anderson, Gary Becker, Newt Gingrich, Henry Rowen, George P. Shultz, Kiron Skinner, and Pete Wilson.

What does this have to do with Stanford? The Hoover fellows advising the Department of Defense are scholars at the Hoover Institution, which is a part of Stanford University. The high level of cooperation between a conservative administration and Hoover fellows is not unusual. Ronald Reagan met with the Hoover's Overseers in 1981 to inform them that the Institution was "the brightest star in a small constellation of conservative think tanks", and that he called on more people from Hoover to help with his campaign than from any other institution. At a White House reception, Reagan thanked the Institute's Director for building "the knowledge base that made the changes now taking place in Washington possible."

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a Hoover fellow or any other scholar advising a government official. However, we raise the issue of Hoover fellows’ involvement in U.S. foreign policy because we feel it reflects the nature of the institution. Hoover is the only institution at Stanford that maintains an overt political bias.

The Institute's Mission and Philosophy

We claim that the Hoover Institution, distinct from the projects of its individual fellows, has a political bias. Our primary concern is therefore with how the Institution acts as an institution. Let's look, then, at the Hoover mission statement:

The Hoover Institution's mission is defined, in part, by the 1959 statement by its founder, Herbert Hoover that calls for safeguarding "[the American] system where the Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social or economic action, except where local government, or the people, cannot undertake it for themselves." The Institution has reformulated Mr. Hoover's vision thus: "By collecting knowledge, generating ideas, and disseminating both, our Institution seeks to secure and safeguard peace, improve the human condition, and limit government intrusion into the lives of individuals."

This last phrase has defined the character of the institution to a great extent, and this is clear from how the institution describes itself. Hoover's Annual Report 2000 says:

"Evaluating and advancing sensible market-based solutions to public policy problems is an underpinning of the philosophy of Hoover scholars, who will continue to advance the principles of free enterprise and economic freedom for decades to come" ("Founding Principle: Private Enterprise", from the Introduction to Annual Report 2000).

This is from a section that describes the founding principles of the institution.

The institutional character demonstrated in the above passage influences the Institute's sponsored research initiatives, which are proposed by the director and approved by the executive committee. These initiatives are, according to the Institution's web-site, reflections of the Institute's overarching goals. Here, we see that the institution's academic agenda is linked to non-academic goals. For instance, the initiative Property Rights, the Rule of Law, and Economic Performance", intends "to emphasize the fundamental importance of property rights to the life and health of a free society." The Institution sponsored research initiative "The End of Communism" hopes, in the report's words, "to ensure that mankind will not again be tempted by the false utopian promises of this malignant ideology [of communism]" (Introduction to Annual Report 2000).

The University and Academic Freedom:

The university should be a place that upholds academic freedom. The crucial part of academic freedom here is freedom from "institutional orthodoxy." Academic freedom, as described by the university, entails that "Decisions concerning… the search for, and appointment and promotion of, faculty…[and] the support and sponsorship of scholarly research…shall be made without regard to a person's political, social, or other views not directly related to academic values or to the assumption of academic responsibilities" ("Academic Freedom" Research Policy Handbook, Document 2.3)

Is Hoover compatible with Academic Freedom?

An institution with political goals and political bias is thus a violation of academic freedom. The mission statement guides the Institution's hiring practices, and since the mission endorses a specific political opinion we must conclude that political views plays some role in the process of selecting Hoover fellows. In addition, the Institution's sponsored research promote the political opinion endorsed by the mission statement -- institutional "support of scholarly research" therefore also proceeds according to non-academic values.

 

Hoover Fellows and the War on Iraq:

On October 8, 2002, the Stanford Daily ran an article with the headline "Hoover fellows help make policy on Iraq." The headline refers to the 8 Hoover fellows on the influential 31-member Defense Policy Board, which meets regularly with top administrative officials such as the Secretary of Defense; the Chicago Tribune described the board as "playing an influential role in pushing the Bush administration toward an invasion of Iraq, generating support for military action as members seek to transform a controversial idea into a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy."

The 8 members on the Defense Policy Board are: Richard Allen, Martin Anderson, Gary Becker, Newt Gingrich, Henry Rowen, George P. Shultz, Kiron Skinner, and Pete Wilson.

What does this have to do with Stanford? The Hoover fellows advising the Department of Defense are scholars at the Hoover Institution, which is a part of Stanford University. The high level of cooperation between a conservative administration and Hoover fellows is not unusual. Ronald Reagan met with the Hoover's Overseers in 1981 to inform them that the Institution was "the brightest star in a small constellation of conservative think tanks", and that he called on more people from Hoover to help with his campaign than from any other institution. At a White House reception, Reagan thanked the Institute's Director for building "the knowledge base that made the changes now taking place in Washington possible."

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a Hoover fellow or any other scholar advising a government official. However, we raise the issue of Hoover fellows’ involvement in U.S. foreign policy because we feel it reflects the nature of the institution. Hoover is the only institution at Stanford that maintains an overt political bias.

Let's look at Director Raisian's comments on the participation of Hoover fellows in the Bush administration:

"One cultural aspect of the Hoover Institute is that we are suspicious of government solutions to problems. It is fair to say that when you look at these two candidates, George W. Bush is more likely to share that outlook on society." (John Raisian, Stanford Review Volume XXV, Issue 6)

Now, it's certainly incorrect to say that support for the war falls strictly along party lines. There are Republican opponents to an invasion of Iraq; there are democrat supporters of "Iraqi liberation." But to formulate policy, it seems reasonable to expect the administration to call upon those who share its general political perspective. And that, I think, explains the high degree of involvement of Hoover fellows on the defense policy board and why it is a reflection of the nature of the Hoover Institution.

Counter-arguments:

The Hoover Institution brings diversity.

This question has the merit of recognizing that Hoover has a conservative bias. However,

Diversity of thought should be brought to campus without institutional orthodoxy.

Hoover isn't covered by academic freedom b/c fellows are not members of the professoriate.

Hoover Institution should adhere to the policies of academic freedom if it is a part of the university.

The Hoover is 1/4 democrat! That's more diverse than the poli sci department.

What we are claiming is that the Institution, distinct from the projects of its individual fellows, maintains a political bias. Our concern is thus with examples of how the Institution acts as an Institution, not with the party affiliations of its members.

But how could they use the mission statement in hiring practices and also hire liberals like Gerald Dorfman and Michael McFaul? William Perry is a Hoover Fellow and he worked for Clinton!

This is a good question. First, we are not suggesting that political views are the only factor in hiring Hoover Fellows. That is clearly not the case. But if politics is even one factor among many in the hiring of fellows, this is a violation of academic freedom.

Second, the hiring practices of Hoover Institution is not, in my opinion, homogeneous. I think they go after some folks simply because the Poli Sci department would like them to (this is the case with Morris Fiorina, whom Poli Sci tried to hire 3 times); or who are prestigious. But this doesn't prevent them from using politics as a factor in shaping the character of the body of Hoover Fellows. As Raisian told the San Francisco Chronicle on February 24, 1995: "[Hoover] tends to be suspicious of bigger and more expensive government . . . . People who look to the government to try to solve problems are not the type who will fit in well." So there may be liberal scholars who are part of Hoover Institution, but Raisian makes it clear in this quote that these scholars are not integral to Hoover's character as an institution.

That phrase, "limit government intrusion in the lives of individuals", is too vague to mean anything.

See Raisian's quotes.

Hoover doesn't censor or control individual research, so how could it not be academically free?

Academic freedom doesn't just mean the absence of censorship. It means the absence of institutional orthodoxy.

Opinion at the Hoover Institution is diverse and in fact, opposite to what you'd suspect. Most of Hoover is against the war, for instance.

We are not claiming that the Hoover's mission statement ensures that everybody thinks the same thing. We are claiming that it is an influence in the political shape of the body of fellows. This means perhaps having a general agreement about the goals of political activity and values for judging policy, not a set of ready-made ideas. And the fact that, of the academics that support the war and formulate Bush's policy on Iraq, so many are found at Hoover, is a reflection of that political shape.

To clarify this, let's suppose that the History Department only hired people that were registered Republicans. We would all recognize this as inappropriate, but there is no reason to believe that everyone in the History Department would support the invasion of Iraq.

How come you're not going after Feminist Studies?

Feminist Studies is an academic program dedicated to academic pursuits, not political ones. The Feminist Studies Department gives its mission as the "investigation of the significance of gender in all areas of human life," as well as the study of systems of inequality. It does not have a political mission, but a scholarly one.

What's the difference between Coit Blacker, who worked for Clinton, and the Hoover Institution?

Hoover Institution is an institution connected to the university, and as such should not have a political goal. Coit Blacker is an individual and we support individual participation in politics.

 

What is Hoover's Connection to Stanford?

Details:

Hoover is officially a part of Stanford, like Stanford Linear Accelerator.

Hoover Fellows are officially classed as "academic staff". They are employees of the university -- not officially part of the professoriate. The director answers to President Hennessey, and indirectly to the Board of Trustees through the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers. Raisian is in the unofficial University Cabinet (along with the deans of all the schools); Hennessey is on the board of overseers. Most of the people on the Board of Overseers have some other Stanford connection (alumni, donors, etc.)

In financial terms, all of Hoover's money is Stanford's money. Checks are written

to "Hoover institution, Stanford university." The Hoover account is a Stanford account; the Hoover endowment ($60 million) is a Stanford endowment; Stanford owns everything in the Hoover Institution buildings.

$1.15 million of tuition money goes to the Hoover libraries and archives, which are a tremendous and often used resource for the Stanford community. The overall cost of the libraries are about $6 million and the overall operating budget is probably $30 million.

There is significant involvement in the Stanford community. Of the 100 fellows, nearly 60 did some teaching or advising for Stanford students, many of these are as courtesy appointments in which Hoover fellows teach classes for lower pay than a Stanford professor.

Joint appointments. In addition, many Hoover fellows hold joint appointments as professors of certain departments at Stanford. This means that fellow is both a Hoover fellow and a Stanford professor. The institution and the department split the salary costs of the professor/fellow. There have been many instances in which a prominent professor has considered leaving Stanford for another university, and a joint appointment permitted the retention of the scholar at Stanford because a more lucrative salary was offered.

Currently, there seem to be 9 currently teaching in the Poli Sci department: 6 out of 23 professors; 1 of 3 associate professors; 0 of 8 assistant professors; 2 of 12 courtesy professors.

In 1992, a Hoover fellow received a joint appointment to the political science department. The appointment of this scholar, who previously been denied a departmental position, appears to have been in exchange for a similar offer to a political science professor by the Institution. Although Terry Moe, the professor offered the Hoover appointment deal, denied that either appointment was inappropriate given the merit the candidates, critics such as Political Science Professor John Manley believe that such a barter of teaching positions challenges the integrity of academic appointments and therefore a Stanford education.

The impact of joint appointments on department orientation is still being studied; however, an emeritus professor of political science has criticized the practice: "having a Hoover with its money and agenda helps skew department appointments. Hoover will not be interested in a joint appointment with overly liberal or leftist professors. Also, such appointments set up a two-class professoriat: some with plush offices and research support, others who do more teaching and university work. Nice for Hooverites, but divisive for the department."

The overall issue is the question of whether any department should be so closely affiliated with an institution with overt political goals. This would seem especially an issue for the political science department.

 

Text of the Petition:

Whereas: Stanford University's policy is to uphold academic freedom. Academic freedom, as described by the university, entails that "Decisions concerning "the search for, and appointment and promotion of, faculty…[and] the support and sponsorship of scholarly research…shall be made without regard to a person's political, social, or other views not directly related to academic values or to the assumption of academic responsibilities" ("Academic Freedom" Research Policy Handbook, Document 2.3)

Whereas: The Hoover Institution, according to its mission statement, seeks to "limit government intrusion in the lives of individuals"

Whereas: The goals of the Hoover Institution, described in the institution's mission statement and guiding philosophy, and manifest in the institution's sponsored research initiatives, are incompatible with Stanford University's policy to uphold academic freedom.

Be it Resolved: Unless the institution's practices are made consonant with the university's policy of academic freedom, Stanford University will sever its ties with the Hoover Institution while retaining the Hoover archives. Hoover will no longer be a part of Stanford University and will no longer hold joint appointments with Stanford University

[link to e-petition]

 

Governance and Appointments: The appointment of the Director of the Hoover Institute follows the procedure outlined by the Board of Trustees on May 20. 1959 and amended on May 17, 1962: "after Mr. [Herbert] Hoover's decease [the director shall be approved] by the Trustees of The Hoover Foundation, Inc., a New York Corporation."

"The Director must be a man who reflects the purposes of the institution. He should be of an age which gives him a substantial period of service before the retirement age of 65 years….The Director shall have tenure as long as he satisfactorily discharges his responsibilities. This is administrative tenure, comparable to that of the President of the University, and not academic tenure…"

Because the director possesses administrative tenure, the Director is exempt from scrutiny by the Advisory Board. Thus, the director's appointment is never reviewed by another member of the faculty.

The Director controls the budget and the Institution sponsored research initiatives.

The appointment of Senior Fellows is recommended by the Director of the Hoover Institution to the president of Stanford University, who frequently delegates evaluation of the candidate to the provost and an ad hoc faculty committee. The Advisory Board, which approves the appointment of all campus faculty, is not involved in the appointment of Senior Fellows. Senior Fellows are employed without date of termination -- not quite like tenure, more accurately described as indefinite employment. Any fellow who holds an appointment in a university department is approved by the Advisory Board to hold that appointment. The rest of the senior fellows thus are not reviewed by any member of the faculty prior to appointment. Senior research fellow and Research Fellow appointments occur without reference to the President -- the final hiring authority resides in the Director.

"It is impossible to find an analogue in the rest of the university for this procedure and extremely hard to invent one. I can only compare the Director's appointment of a senior fellow to a dean's appointment of someone to a department with a review by an ad hoc faculty committee appointed by a public affairs officer but without a review of the appointment by the Provost or the Advisory Board. The Director's appointment of a Senior Research Fellow or Research Fellow I can only compare to a dean's bypassing even the president." -- Ron Rebholz, prof. Emeritus of English