The VERITAS Fund for Higher Education Reform
In 2007, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research created the VERITAS Fund for Higher Education at DonorsTrust.
The current environment on university campuses values Diversitas over Veritas - but cultural diversity is a poor substitute for truth, which must be the prevailing aim of the university. And discovering truth is impossible without a commitment to freedom of inquiry and the broadest possible range of viewpoints - what we call intellectual pluralism.
The VERITAS Fund at DonorsTrust is a donor-advised fund that seeks out professors at top-tier universities who are committed to bringing intellectual pluralism to their institutions. Working with these professors, we fund "centers of academic excellence" within universities that help introduce a new generation of students to broader perspectives than are available on most campuses.
Typically, we provide top-notch professors with substantial seed capital, spread over three years. After these professors have demonstrated progress with their "centers," we assist them in identifying other funding sources - alumni, institutional, or foundations - to sustain their efforts.
The VERITAS Fund's lodestar is Professor Robert George's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. The Madison program, which is dedicated to studying American constitutional law and Western political thought, was founded in 2000 and is a powerful example of how relatively modest funding, employed tactically, can drive the development of new institutions on campus.
In its inaugural year, the VERITAS Fund raised and largely committed $2,500,000 to seeding centers on the campuses of Boston College, Brown University, the University of Colorado, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Emory University, Georgetown University, New York University, the University of Texas, and the University of Virginia. Of these programs, five used VERITAS funds to help augment their existing efforts - often significantly. The remaining five were created from scratch, made possible only by the promise of three years of VERITAS Fund support.
To date, we have capitalized ten centers at colleges and universities around the country:
Boston College: Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, directed by Marc Landy. Professor Landy - along with Professors Robert Faulkner, Dennis Hale, and Susan Shell - leads an impressive list of political scientists at Boston College interested in furthering the study of the historical and philosophical underpinnings of constitutional democracy.
Brown University: The Political Theory Project, directed by John Tomasi. Now four years old, Professor Tomasi's project touts an "open curriculum," introducing substantial and varied courses from philosophy, economics, history, classics, and sociology.
University of Colorado at Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs: The Center for Western Civilization, directed by E. Christian Kopff. The goal of the Center is to eventually become a full academic department. VERITAS helped fund the fall 2007 orientation for Colorado's 5,000 freshmen, themed "citizenship in a free society," focusing on the Founders' vision of American citizenship, its origins in Western thought, and the challenges of maintaining free institutions.
Georgetown University: Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, directed by Patrick Deneen. Professor Deneen's Tocqueville Forum is currently housed within the Government Department; he believes it could eventually become an institute or center, offering undergraduate and graduate coursework, hiring faculty, and offering postdoctoral positions.
Cornell University: Center for the Foundations of Free Societies, directed by Barry Strauss, Professor of History. The center's purpose is to promote the study of constitutional liberty: how it developed; where it came from; the principles that underlie free institutions; the obstacles such institutions have overcome in the past; and the threats they face today.
Dartmouth College: Daniel Webster Center for Ancient and Modern Studies, directed by James B. Murphy, Professor of Government. The Webster Center will offer graduate fellowships in history and government, visiting fellowships, outside lectures, and seminars, as well as new courses in history, political science, and related departments designed to supplement the focus of the current curriculum with more traditional subjects.
Emory University: Program in American Citizenship, directed by Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English. Professor Bauerlein has secured the Emory administration's support for this program, which develops coursework for undergraduates on the important political and civic traditions of the United States.
New York University: Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy, directed by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Professor of Politics. Scheduled to open in 2008, the center will offer original undergraduate coursework, train graduate students and young faculty (and eventually post-doctoral students) on political economy, support original research by teams of scholars, and provide public lectures and debates featuring prominent scholars and policymakers.
University of Texas: Center for Western Civilization and American Institutions, directed by Robert Koons, Professor of Philosophy. The Center will offer courses to undergraduates on the major works and themes of Western civilization. Plans are already underway to develop this center into a full-fledged undergraduate major, offering a host of courses and hiring new faculty.
University of Virginia: Program for Constitutionalism and Democracy, directed by James Ceaser, Professor of Political Science. Professor Ceaser, a distinguished professor at Virginia and a well-known scholar of American history and government, proposes to build a program that will consist of outside lecturers, visiting fellows, and new course offerings for undergraduates in the American political tradition.
VERITAS sees itself as an angel investor in these programs. We are confident that we will be able to find trustees and alumni willing to sustain them.
Supporting the VERITAS Fund
Many philanthropists wish to support higher education reform on American campuses, but need assistance in identifying worthy scholars and programs. VERITAS provides an experienced staff of advisors who are closely attuned to the academic world and who are expert in leveraging philanthropic support to sustain efforts for the long haul. We focus on the most difficult part of a foundation's job - identifying and seeding new programs. Unlike the traditional foundation model, however, our fund is open to outside investors. We expect that a number of established foundations interested in making higher-education reform a philanthropic priority will invest in the Fund as well.
The American mind remains open in large measure to a handful of such foundations - most notably, the now-dissolved Olin Foundation - that put their money where their minds were. As its final gift, the Olin Foundation has honored the VERITAS Fund with a $1 million matching grant for 2008. All new gifts received by the VERITAS Fund in 2008 will be matched dollar for dollar. This is a wonderful opportunity to honor the Olin Foundation and true diversity and intellectual inquiry on college campuses.
DonorsTrust serves as the administrative and financial arm for the VERITAS Fund and is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides a safe, tax efficient, and innovative charitable vehicle to any donor who wishes to fund organizations that undergird America’s founding principles.
If you would like to make a financial investment in the VERITAS Fund, please view the contribution instructions below. Charitable investments of any size are encouraged, and individuals, private foundations, and corporations are eligible for an immediate charitable tax deduction as allowed by law.
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