All posts by Peter Wood


Why Mitch Daniels Was Wrong

Mitch Daniels has found himself in a new controversy. The former governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University gave the keynote address at the October 7 Fall Briefing of the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota think tank. His topic was “What Did It Take to Reduce Spending and Improve Governmental Services in Indiana?” It could hardly be said that Daniels had wandered outside his area of expertise, but almost instantly he came under intense criticism.

The critics leveled t…


The Compromised Life of Common-Reading Programs

This month, the National Institutes of Health announced that it had reached an agreement with members of the Lacks family that would give them some rights to privacy over a widely used line of cultured cells.  The case involved cells derived from a cancerous cervical tumor in a woman who died from the disease in 1951. Black and poor, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cancer at age 29. By the time she went to the Johns Hopkins University clinic, she had only months left to live.

Her inadvertent …


Why Mitch Daniels Was Right

The Associated Press broke a story on July 16 that Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University, wrote e-mails while the governor of Indiana attacking the use of Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, as “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.”

My first response: good for Mr. Daniels. His comment, made on February 9, 2010—according to the date stamp on his e-mail—shows that he has a pretty clear grasp …


John Silber, Intellectual Gunslinger

(Photo by Boston U. Photography, from a slide show at BU Today. Click on image to get to the slide show and an obituary.)

John Silber died this morning. He was 86. Silber served as president of Boston University from 1971 to 1996, then as chancellor until 2003. He was by long odds America’s most colorful college president—one who starred in two episodes of 60 Minutes, decades apart, first as a hero for standing up to student radicals, then as a villain for his allegedly wayward way with tax retu…


Beware of Partisan Politics in the Classroom

As faculty members at Ohio State last week double-checked their syllabi, glanced at their rosters, and ran through the usual routines for the start of fall courses, some of them found a surprise in their e-mail in boxes. A senior English professor invited his colleagues to open their classrooms in the weeks ahead to organizers in the Obama campaign. They would first encourage students to register to vote and then, if the instructors were willing, encourage students to volunteer for the Obama cam…