October 21, 2015

Dear Friends,

It is a beautiful autumn day here on campus, as the trees begin to change into a last glorious burst of flaming color. The school year is off to a good start, with the newly minted freshman class beginning their academic careers together at Hillsdale College. Meanwhile, seniors are beginning thier last year at Hillsdale, and are very busy with their studies and the extracurricular pursuits that create well-rounded individuals. One such senior, who has worked in our office since her sophomore year, summed up the mixed feelings that are the hallmark of endings and beginnings. After commenting on the excited enthusiasm of the freshmen and sophomores, she shared with a certain wistfulness that these have been some of the best years of her young life, and like her contemporaries she is wondering what waits ahead, past the watershed event of graduation. She also stated that the past three years at Hillsdale College have been a tremendous growth experience, both personally and academically. I can vouch for that, having seen her grow from a girl into a young woman in the scant amount of time we have known her.

I have heard Dr. Arnn mention several times that late August is his favorite time of year because it is the beginning of the academic year. He has an excellent point, because wecoming the freshmen and their parents to campus through events tailored to those new to the College is heartening and exciting. Each year, in addition to Freshman Convocation, a Freshman Parents Send-Off Dinner is organized by the Parent Relations Department. Over 480 parents attended this year's dinner to listen to speeches and enjoy a delicious meal before leaving campus. The freshman events are an opportunity to see firsthand the commitment and passion both parents and their students share in the undertaking of a Hillsdale College education. Her is a link to a video that gives a birds-eye perspective on this exciting opening of the academic year.

When parents of freshman students--and of all grade levels--entrust their children to Hillsdale College, it is a joyous occasion to be sure. There is also a somber undercurrent of awareness of the accompanying responsibility on the part of the extended College familiy. It is our job to make sure each and every student has the best resources available to grow from a fledgling into a graduating adult who will take wing into a future bright with promise. Thank you for being a part of this age-old--yet always new--process through your invaluable friendship and support.

Welcome to the Class of 2019

Each year it becomes more difficult to identify in a group of Hillsdale College students which ones are members of the freshman class. Their maturity and confidence are difficult to conceive of when I harken back to my own awkward freshman days. It is also daunting to think about what it would be like to be 18 years old today amidst the cultural, political, and academic blurring of boundaries and distorted reality. Today, perhaps more than ever, it is vital for a young person's college education to build upon what they learned at home and during their first twelve years of schooling. A strong foundation is vital to staying the course of those who came before. For instance, today's freshman faces a much more competitive and varied job market than in the past several decades. Challenged by the constant flux of technology, and uncertain economy, and ever-encroaching government regulation of individual liberties, the ability to critically think, read, and defend oneself in writing and speaking is more important than ever. The following Class of 2019 overview will reveal the incoming class has what it takes to meet the challenges ahead:

  • The entering class carried an average 3.81 high school grade-point and averaged 29 on the ACT test and 1976 on the SAT
  • Thirty percent of entering students have attended private or parochial schools, while sixteen percent are homeschooled, and eight percent are transfer students.
  • The percentage of students from outside of Michigan is 67 percent
  • The Class of 2019 represents 41 states plus one U.S. territory and six foreign countries. Countries represented by the overall student body include Kenya, Germany, Canada, Iceland, United Kingdom (England), Australia, Bulgaria, Korea, Greece, and India.
  • The Class of 2019 consists of 370 incoming students, of which 181 are men and 189 are women. The total overall count of full-time enrolled students is 1,451 (702 men and 749 women)
  • The acceptance rate for this year's entering class was 50 percent from a pool of 1,859 applicants. Of that accepted group, just shy of 40 percent enrolled at Hillsdale College this fall. 
  • The odds are good that these entering students will return next fall, with an overall school retention rate of 95.5 percent.
  • The Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship welcomed five Masters and five Ph.D. candidates, bringing the total to 36 graduate school students, consisting of 15 Masters and 21 Ph.D. candidates. 

When it comes to undergraduate education, the best way to introduce a potential student to Hillsdale College is through the campus visit. Words and pictures can't desvribe the magic that is in the air here, or the sense of camraderie that is shared among students, faculty, and staff. The admissions off campus receptions and on-campus "Visit Days" for the year ahead are listed at hillsdale.edu/admission/visit. You may send information on prospective students, such as name, address, and year of high schoool graduations to the Admissions Office by contacting mbraman@hillsdale.edu, by mail to the attention of Senior Director of Admissions Zach Miller at the Hillsdale College addresss, or phone the Admissions Office directly at (517)-607-2227. It is important to guide the best and brightest students to Hillsdale College, and we appreciate your help in doing so. 

The Feds Won't Rate My College...When Being Ignored Is a Good Thing

Apparently, when it comes to the U.S. Department of Education, if a college doesn't accept federal funds, then the school doesn't exist. Allow me to explain.

Late last month, President Obama announced that parents and students would have a government-provided means of reviewing colleges vie athe "College Scorecard" produced by the U.S. Dpeartment of Education. By using the Scorecard website, a potential student may search by major, region, city, size of student body, racial affiliation, gender, and curriculum to determine the right fit for a student's college choice. It is notable that their search will turn up results only of schools that participate in the title IV federal financial aid programs and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System ((IPEDS), which tracks racial demographics. 

You may visit the website at collegescorecard.ed.gov to search for a college in Hillsdale, Michigan, that offers four-year degrees. Your search results will reveal that--according to the Department of Education--there are no schools matching that description in Hillsdale, Michigan. Apparently, Hillsdale COllege doesn't exist, or at least not in the world of its federally funded conterparts. It was a student reporter from the Collegian who contacted Denise Horn, the assistant press secretary for the Department of Eduation, to find out if this was an oversight or perhaps an error of omission. During the phone interview, Ms. Horn stated: "Hillsdale does offer bachelor's degrees; however, because the plurality of degrees it awards are certificates, not two-year or four-year degrees, it was not included on the scorecard at launch." This is a statement that is verifiably untrue, since the last count, the college offers four-year degrees in 31 disciplines, as well as M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Politics. It is significant to note that no certificates are awarded for academic credit. Ms. Horn could not have been more wrong. 

It is one more example of modern irony that apparently the Department of Education has forgotten that Hillsdale was founded in 1844 by abolitionist Free Will Baptists and was among the first in Michigan to admit students without regard to "nationality, color or sex." http://www.hilllsdale.edu/about/mission. It is hardly news that Hillsdale College grants four-year degrees--we have done so for 171 years. There have been many attempts over the years by federal and state regulators to force Hillsdale to take stock of its student body, counting students by race and gender, rather than by academic credentials. These attempts have been thwarted by the College's strong stance on refusing any form of federal government funding or meddling on how Hillsdale students are educated and by what standards they are enrolled. The ignoring of the existence of our fine school is a blatant signal that we are a threat to the status quo in American education. That is a very good thing, and a sign that the College is being true to its mission of educating the leaders of tomorrow in time-tested truths. It is also an indicatior the the "Department of Education is a political arm of the party in power," as stated in a recent response to the article by Hillsdale College Provost David Whalen, which is linked here.

Rest assured that we will continue to stand small but mighty against the Goliath of a bloated and wasteful federal government. You are a part of that strong stance and an important part of the circle of friends who make our independence a reality. 

Financial Aid of a Whole Different Sort

While reviewing the Scorecard website, it is astounding how little it can cost for low-income students to attend some Ivy League institutions, such as Harvard, Amherst, Princeton, and Yale.  The only caveat is that they would have to qualify academically, which is nearly impossible for someone who attended an inner city school.  Should you click on the link on the Scorecard home page “23 Four-year Schools with Low Costs That Lead to High Incomes” and scroll through the list, there you will see the median incomes of graduates and the average cost of attending these schools for low-income students.  Scrolling down through the comments, you will note that along with a couple of glowing remarks on the financial aid programs of federally funded institutions, there are also criticisms that these schools are inaccessible to the typical middle-class American student who must support his or her education with substantial debt.  It is clear something is amiss here, since most students who are low-income do not have access to the type of grammar school and high school education that would prepare them to survive academically at the majority of the top-rated schools.  There is an inherent inequality in the federal financial aid system that affords access to those who are ill-prepared to perform, and denies access to qualified but middle-class students by basing financial aid primarily on need rather than merit.  In fact, if judged by the results in voter elections, higher education is failing in America, serving as a means of Socialist indoctrination rather than an education based upon the teaching of classical knowledge.  Through federal subsidies to education, the tax-paying citizen is effectively financing the education of the next generation of brainwashed bureaucrats.

Such is not the case at Hillsdale College, where 98 percent will receive some form of financial aid—be it grants, need- and/or merit-based scholarships, and privately sourced loans toward a tuition of $23,840.  There are over 700 named scholarships at Hillsdale College in the form of endowed and annually donated scholarships.  A total of $11,300,000 of endowed and annually donated scholarships are projected to be awarded during this academic year.  In addition, over $2,214,000 will be awarded this year in the form of Hillsdale Tradition Awards, which include both work and volunteer components, and require students to remain in good academic standing.  Overall, $25.2 million is expected to be awarded toward a student body of 1,451 students.  Last year the average award was $17,317 per student; of this amount, $2,300 was in the form of Hillsdale College loans.  The average loan debt of Hillsdale graduates is $25,502, and the default rate hovers at less than three percent.

 Compare this rosy picture with the federal financial aid debacle.  It was reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article that “nearly 7 million Americans have gone at least one year without making a payment on their federal student loans.”  Student debt has tripled over the past decade to $1.19 trillion, and given the current levels of student-debt defaults, the ripple effect of default on federally funded loans will be reflected in America’s economy as: 

  1. Eroded student borrower credit ratings, downgraded for defaulting on their student loans.
  2. Because of lowered credit status, there is likely to be decreased consumer spending on large ticket items such as cars and real estate.
  3. The federal loan program will drain government revenues rather than contribute, as was originally conceived.

It is clear that many students borrow from the federal government (actually borrowing from you and me as U.S. taxpayers), never intending to repay their loans.  Excuses include disappointment that they didn’t secure the type of high-paying job they expected as undergraduates, and that their education was a “bad investment” in their future.  Along with unrealistic expectations of what it is like to start out in a job market, perhaps this is the crux of the matter.  If the average student had studied at a school such as Hillsdale College that prepares students for life in its many facets, with a broad-based liberal arts education, it is likely they would understand the responsibility that when a debt is incurred, it must be paid.  They would understand that a young graduate is not going to move into management without rising through the ranks of experience.

Hillsdale graduates must be in agreement that they have received an excellent education given the single-digit default rate on the College’s privately funded student loans.  The proof is not only in the low loan default rate, but also in the productivity and citizenship exhibited by their success in both their business and personal lives.

Responding to Demand: The Rise of the Charter School Movement

The success stories of the charter schools established under the guidance of Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative are remarkable.  It is no accident that the charter school students at the Founders Classical Academy in Lewisville, Texas, and Estancia Valley Academy in Moriarty, New Mexico, have tested in the 90th percentile of the state tests, even though there was no “teaching to the test” as typically seen at other schools.  These schools are a shining success, and it is good news that there are five more new charter schools opening this year, joining the existing thirteen schools spread from Naples, Florida, to Bentonville, Arkansas, to Savannah, Georgia.  The total enrollment on the first day of school for all operating schools amounted to 6,299 pupils.

Fifteen new founding groups are planning to open schools in the next two years.  Some of the potential locations for classical charter schools in 2016 include Bloomington, Indiana, Clifton Springs, New York, and Brighton, Michigan.  Potential locations for 2017 openings include Charlotte, North Carolina; Toledo, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Valparaiso and Indianapolis, Indiana; and in Michigan, the cities of Ann Arbor, Petoskey, Warren, and Traverse City.

As some background, this groundbreaking initiative is funded through the generosity of the Barney Family Foundation and matching gifts from generous individuals who believe in righting the wrongs in American education.  Much like you and me, the Barney family believes that the first step in “turning this ship around” is found in educating students with the right stuff at a young age beginning in kindergarten and continuing through elementary, junior high, and high school.  This translates as classical charter schools that teach Western and American Heritage, real math, English, grammar, phonics, Latin, civics, and science as a means rather than an end.  In other words, students are being grounded in an education that will serve them for a lifetime.  There is currently an anonymous challenge, which will match gifts designated to the Barney Charter School Initiative endowment fund on a $1-for-$1 basis up to $500,000.  It is always important to know what the funds raised are expended upon, and so here is a brief list of just some of the actions that breathe life into the creation and continuation of classical charter schools:

  • A workshop for schools set to open in 2015 took place on campus this past June
  • Teacher training for existing schools took place this past June in three sessions organized by grade level. The sessions are taught by Hillsdale College faculty and were attended by 236 teachers. To experience some online versions of these teaching sessions please visit: hillsdale.edu/outreach/charterschools/seminars
  • At the end of June, the School Founding Board Seminar provided guidance to 21 potential founding groups in 12 states
  • An annual on-campus Classical School Job Fair offers the opportunity for classical K-12 schools to meet promising students ready to enter the world of teaching. Currently, there are at least 57 Hillsdale alumni teaching at the schools founded with the assistance of the Barney Charter School Initiative.
  • Hillsdale College undergraduate scholarships promote teacher preparation.
  • Onsite teacher training at new schools ensures that teachers understand the nature of a classical school and offers specific training in phonics, grammar, literature, science, history, and math.
  • In addition, the Initiative's core staff travels to new schools to assist them during their inaugural semesters, as well as visiting existing schools to help them stay their course.

For further infromation on Hillsdale College's Barney Charter School Initiative, please visit hillsdale.edu/outreach/charterschools or e-mail charterschool@hillsdale.edu, or phone (517)-607-2317. It is very encouraging to realize that these new classical charter schools are already enjoying the fruits of their success and some are planning to increase their classroom capacity in order to accommodate the wait lists of students eager to learn.

Training Future Conservative Talk Radio Hosts

One day as I was driving home from work, I came across a radio station that was playing one patriotic song after another.  My first thought was, “What station is this?”  When I saw the channel number of 101.7, it dawned on me that I was listening to Radio Free Hillsdale (WRFH) for the first time.  Launched on July 10, the low power station currently loops patriotic music while a course of study is being created for students interested in pursuing radio journalism as part of their liberal arts education.  The hiring of a station manager is under way, as are future plans to invite some of your favorite national radio hosts to campus for remote broadcasts.  The budding program is the brainchild of radio entrepreneur Vince Benedetto, CEO of Bold Gold Media Group of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Hillsdale President Larry Arnn.  The premise is that we need more conservative talk show radio hosts on the airwaves, and Hillsdale College is fertile academic ground for educating the future voices of the conservative movement.

Also this summer, broadcast equipment was installed in a new radio studio located at the College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.  Through the miracle of technology, engineers will link the on-campus and the Kirby Center studios so that speeches and debates delivered at the Kirby Center may be aired simultaneously in Hillsdale.  Also, in the future you may be able to tune into WRFH via the Internet, so stay tuned for future developments.

On a national level, the College plans on using radio as a means of spreading news about Hillsdale events in communities across the country.  Toward that end, we request that you e-mail or write and let us know which conservative talk radio hosts air their shows in your area.  This information will then be given to our Marketing Department so that they can ask specific hosts to announce on air a Hillsdale College event, should one be planned for your area.  You may e-mail this information to me at kruddy@hillsdale.edu or send by mail to my attention at Hillsdale College, 33 E. College Street, Hillsdale, MI 49242.  We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate in advance your willingness to assist us in spreading the word about upcoming events in your area.

Bringing Cosmos Out of Chaos: The Churchill Project at Hillsdale College

The Churchill Project is a multifaceted endeavor at Hillsdale College that aims to carry on the legacy of the great statesman, Winston Churchill.  Components include the ongoing production of the official biography of Winston Churchill with accompanying document volumes, national conferences, endowed scholarships, online courses, and an endowed faculty chair.  Richard Langworth is the senior fellow for the Churchill Project and was on campus for the recent CCA (Center for Constructive Alternatives) seminar on the topic of Winston Churchill.  He gave several talks during the seminar, including a luncheon speech on the topic of “Churchill and the Written Word.” 

In a stroke of excellent timing, Dr. Arnn’s latest book on the topic of Winston Churchill was released just prior to the CCA seminar.  The book is titled Churchill’s Trial:  Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government, and is an examination of the necessity of constitutional limits ofgovernment and the exceptional leaders required to head those governments, using the life and writings of Winston Churchill as a guideline for a return to the Constitution in American government.   Churchill’s Trial is available for purchase on Amazon.com or through the Hillsdale College Bookstore at http:bookstore.hillsdale.edu/home, or by phoning (517) 607-2266.  The Churchill biography volumes may also be purchased through the Bookstore.

In concordance with the plan outlined above, a new online course launched on October 5 on the topic of the statesmanship of Winston Churchill.  Taught by Dr. Larry Arnn, the course consists of six, forty-minute sessions that discuss the political and wartime strategies of one of the world’s greatest leaders.  You may register for this and other Hillsdale College online courses at online.hillsdale.edu.  As you can see, much progress is afoot when it comes to preserving and passing on the Churchill legacy to future generations.

The News Around Campus

A new section of this newsletter will aim to share news heard on campus or read in recent publications.  Progress comes swiftly on the Hillsdale College scene, and it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the pace.  Also, please keep in mind that an online version of this letter may be found at hillsdale.edu/support/associates.  Simply click on the newsletter link.  Here are a few interesting pieces of campus news for your enjoyment:

  • Over 114 videos were produced in 2015 for the sole purpose of promoting and informing the world about Hillsdale College.  As a result, the College’s official YouTube channel has the largest subscribership of any of the top 100 liberal arts colleges.  You may access this channel by visiting https://www.youtube.com/user/hillsdalecollege where a new world will open to you of inspirational videos that seek to inspire and educate the world-at-large about our great college.
  • The word is out about a new online course entitled “An Introduction to C.S. Lewis: Writings and Significance,” which is set to launch on October 26.  You may register at online.hillsdale.edu.
  • The first intergenerational Hillsdale Hostel was held this summer and was a success.  In total, 32 guests enrolled in the new Hostel, which combines activities for both the young at heart and their 12- to 16-year-old grandchild, child, or in one case, teenage brother.  Activities included a Civil War scavenger hunt with questions provided by Hillsdale professors.  Next year’s Intergenerational Hostel will take place July 17-20, 2016, on the topic of “Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.”
  • While watching the “Special Report with Brett Baire” show on FOX News late last week, I heard Dr. Arnn’s name mentioned in the context of journalist Stephen Hayes’s choice for Speaker of the House.  Fortunately and God willing, Dr. Arnn will be leading Hillsdale College for years to come, but it was excellent free publicity for the College!
  • Speaking of stars—students, faculty, and staff are gathering periodically to observe astronomical events, such as the recent lunar eclipse.  Led by Assistant Physics Professor Tim Dolch, stargazers gather in the grassy quad area behind Central Hall and examine the heavens on a clear night.  Kudos to Hillsdale Associates Edward and Judy Krupa for donating one of his telescopes to assist with these firsthand explorations of the celestial.
  • Back on earth, when it comes to staying in the city of Hillsdale for a College event, hotel rooms can be at a premium.  In answer to the ebb and flow of hotel space demand, the Hillsdale Home Connection program was created.  Friends of the College have offered space in their homes for overnight stays of guests who are on campus for an event or to visit.  The nightly rates vary, and are competitive with local hotels.  For further information, or to book your own stay, please visit hillsdalecollege.lodgify.com or click on the link at the bottom of the home page under the hospitality column at hillsdale.edu.

Hillsdale College Events Rolling Along in 2015-2016

You may be interested to know the scope of Hillsdale events.  For example, last year 158 on- and off-campus events were held with a total attendance of 14,000 guests.  The CCA seminars are an excellent example of on-campus events that are widely attended.  Over 500 guests attended the last CCA seminar on the topic of Winston Churchill.  In addition to the fascinating speeches, the guests enjoyed the comfort and acoustics of the new Searle Center dining room, which can accommodate up to 750 guests comfortably.  The Searle Center was also formally dedicated during a CCA luncheon.  Plans continue to expand the capacity of Phillips Auditorium, to be funded in part by the Seat of Honor campaign.  Click here for a link to information on how to sponsor a named seat in Phillips Auditorium.  We are anticipating a large and enthusiastic audience as well for the upcoming CCA seminar on the topic of “Money:  History and Controversies” that will take place November 8-11, 2015.  Speakers at this event include Steve Forbes and Peter Schiff.  Topic statements for this and other CCA and NLS (National Leadership Seminars) programs are available online through the above link.

For those interested in joining the College aboard the Crystal Serenity this coming summer, the next cruise will take leave from Vancouver for Alaska, departing on July 27 and returning to Vancouver on August 6, 2016.  The cruise should be well attended given that the itinerary includes seminars at sea and visits to such natural wonders as the Hubbard Glacier and the Inside Passage, as well as stops in Sitka, Ketchikan, and Skagway, Alaska.  A flyer on this scenic voyage is enclosed.  If you have questions, or to book a cabin, please e-mail info@hillsdalecollegecruise.com, phone (877) 242-6397, or visit the website, hillsdalecollegecruise.com.  We look forward to seeing you soon be it on land or sea—or both!

A Multitude of Voices, Singing in Harmony

During a recent campus event, just after the Pledge of Allegiance had been recited, an audience member surprised us by leading off “God Bless America.”  As the rest of the guests joined in, it was stirring to hear so many voices singing in harmony, unrehearsed and unscripted.  Such experiences are valuable in terms of reminding us that we are not alone but one of a multitude of voices, all working in our own way toward the same goal of restoring America to greatness.  There are signs that the silent majority is finally willing to speak up, one by one, to form a chorus that will hopefully open the hearts and minds of our leaders that it is time to awaken from the bureaucratic dormancy of maintaining the status quo.  If our leaders could just remember that an individual is best served by liberty, rather than by an intrusive government, then we will have won most of the battle.

It may be that Dr. Arnn expressed this best with the following statement regarding federal regulation:  “Leave us be, and we will do what we do.  The hope of the world rests upon our work here, or so they tell us.”  You are the “they” in this powerful and simple statement.  Thank you for keeping faith in the Hillsdale College mission and, beyond that, faith in our nation.  Your friendship expressed by your generosity, good wishes, and prayers makes all the difference. 



Kathleen Ruddy, ’82
Director of Associates and Special Projects