One of the favorite mantras of talk radio is the influence of left wing university professors on the youth of America. Don't believe it. I am in my 40th year of university teaching. What I have found teaching at big public institutions in the south and small liberal colleges in the north is that students are almost always more conservative than the professors. Now I am a laissez-faire free market economist. That means I am a conservative in that the market solutions are in general more optimal than those imposed by the government. I teach this. I live it. I use supply and demand as solutions to most economic and financial problems. You would think that in an environment where most of my colleagues are white and liberal, that a black conservative would find rough sledding. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I cannot point to a single instance in which my race has been an issue at the university. I do not have students complaining that I am somehow a traitor. I do not have students complaining that I am indoctrinating them. Quite the contrary. I have heard from liberal and conservative students that it is refreshing for them to hear the other side - leaving it up to them to decided where the truth lies. In my 40 years, I can only point to a handful of students who say that I changed them from liberal to conservative and I know of no students who have said that some professor converted them from conservative to liberal. Think about it. In a broader sense have those who carp on the liberalness of professors ever stop to wonder why anyone is a conservative at all? The media is liberal. The movies are liberal. Artists are liberal. Musicians are liberal. Teachers are liberal from pre-school to grad school. Virtually every influence in our society is dominated by liberals. Yet we hear that the country is mainly center-right. How could this be? If all of these do not convert us and our kids, then what real influence could professors have on our youth?
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com