To the Editor,

I write to tell you about my communication with President Mills regarding the NAS study. 

I sent the following letter to President Mills the morning after Monday’s faculty meeting. He was kind enough to call me upon receiving it. During our phone conversation I voiced my agreement with parts of the piecemeal reports that the NAS has already released; with the gist of Thomas Klingenstein’s arguments in his Claremont Review of Books essay and in the Bowdoin Orient; and with Mills’s own argument, in his September 2010 convocation address, which I excerpted in the letter. 

I asked President Mills to look to the final NAS report when it is released and point out in public those parts that echo what he said in his convocation address. I hoped that his doing so would cause people who would otherwise dismiss the central message of his address—which I understand to be more concordant with the thrust of the NAS than he does—to take it seriously.  He said that I should rather “have the guts to stand up and say it.” Herewith.

Assistant Professor of Economics Stephen Meardon


Monday April 1, 2013

Dear President Mills,

I was sorry to hear my colleagues chuckle at the mere mention of the NAS study at today’s faculty meeting. I am sorrier to say that, to my ear, you encouraged them.

I was present at your convocation address in September 2010 and admired your aim. “We must guard against political correctness and a culture where supposed to feel ‘comfortable’,” you said, and rightly.

The chuckles were the sound of people resting comfortably with the conviction that the ideas in the study, probably a good deal different from those that dominate around here, need not be seriously entertained. It’s a different sound entirely from your admirable convocation address.

With highest regard,
Steve Meardon