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Michael Roth
A historian and frequent commentator on higher education, Michael Roth is president of Wesleyan University. His most recent book is Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, published in the spring of 2014 by Yale University Press. Among his past publications are Psycho-Analysis as History: Negation and Freedom in Freud; The Ironist’s Cage: Memory, Trauma, and the Construction of History and Memory, Trauma and History: Essays on Living with the Past. In 1998 he curated the international traveling exhibition, Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture for the Library of Congress. He also blogs at

Entries by Michael Roth

'Hamilton' and Liberal Education

(24) Comments | Posted June 15, 2016 | 7:31 AM

As a college president, I get asked time and time again where I find compelling examples of how graduates build on the broad, liberal education they receive as undergraduates. When you give students the freedom to inquire, to experiment with different kinds of study, they often bring those elements together...

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Three Things Every College Student Should Learn

(10) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 10:33 AM

We just finished Commencement at Wesleyan University. We awarded around 800 diplomas, and we recognized the achievements of Kwame Anthony Appiah, Patti Smith and Bryan Stevenson with honorary doctorates. Each spoke eloquently, and Bryan encouraged our graduates to dare to change the world by getting closer to those...

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Liberal Education in Tough Times

(26) Comments | Posted May 3, 2016 | 5:31 PM

"College Choice" day has just passed, and many high school seniors are now anticipating the beginning of their undergraduate careers. Meanwhile, on campuses across the country thousands of undergraduates are preparing for the end of the semester, and almost everybody in college is wondering how they are going to translate...

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Beyond Prestige: How to Choose Your University

(10) Comments | Posted April 13, 2016 | 10:41 AM

In April each year, I re-post something about college choice. Campuses like mine this time of year welcome hundreds of visitors who move around the grounds with the confidence of those who've been selected in a difficult process, but they also with plenty of questions. These are the newly admitted...

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STEM vs. Liberal Education: A False Choice

(59) Comments | Posted March 20, 2016 | 9:36 AM

This is college admissions decision season -- a time when many young people have traditionally looked forward to an educational experience quite different from what they had (sometimes just endured) in high school. The days of checking off boxes to prove their worthiness to some future gatekeepers would be over....

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정치적 공정성의 판타지가 2016년에도 계속될까?

(0) Comments | Posted January 5, 2016 | 1:38 PM

2015년에 진보적 컬럼니스트 조너선 체이트는 '정치적 공정성(politically correct)의 문화'와 '언어 경찰'이 되돌아온 것을 한탄했다. 그는 선하고 진보적인 사람들조차 자신들의 정체성을 긍정하지 않는 생각들은 검열하는 '사회 정의 전사들'의 조롱을 받을까 봐 두려워한다고 적었다. 그는 '정치적 공정성은 사회적 평등에 대한 철저한 헌신이라기보다는 좌익의 이데올로기 탄압 시스템이다.' 라고 썼다. 작년 가을,...

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Will the Fantasy of Political Correctness Continue in 2016?

(212) Comments | Posted December 31, 2015 | 8:51 AM

Early in 2015, the liberal columnist Jonathan Chait bemoaned the return of "pc culture" and its "language police." Even good, progressive people, he told his readers, were afraid to be ridiculed by "social justice warriors" bent on ensuring that only ideas that affirmed their identities would escape censure....

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Political Correctness Not the Problem on Campus

(68) Comments | Posted December 5, 2015 | 10:51 AM

'Tis the season to write disparaging commentaries on college students. They are coddled, some say, others say they don't understand the value of free speech, while still others predict the demise of American higher education as a whole because of a lack of openness...

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This University President Is Sick of Reading About Pampered, Coddled Students

(56) Comments | Posted November 22, 2015 | 8:29 AM

Are you sick of reading about pampered college students and their safe spaces, trigger warnings and coddled minds? I know I am. Generations of parents and grandparents have long loved to shake their heads at the apparent absurdities of the young. It's practically an American tradition:...

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Biggest Threat to Free Speech Not on College Campuses

(27) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 5:55 PM

As we prepared to honor Middletown military veterans at Wesleyan University's first home football game, I sought out one of our engaged and thoughtful student vets. Bryan Stascavage had published an opinion piece in The Argus, the school newspaper, raising critical questions about the Black Lives Matter movement....

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Thoughts on Starting College for Parents of New Students

(6) Comments | Posted September 6, 2015 | 2:39 PM

Every year I speak to the families of new students at Wesleyan University just before they say goodbye and we start our semester. Having just dropped off my daughter (far from home) as she starts her first year in college, this was particularly poignant for me.

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Broadway Star Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hip Hop Wesleyan Commencement Address

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 4:32 PM

On Memorial Day weekend, the composer/lyricist and star of In the Heights and Hamilton delivered a hip-hop commencement speech at his alma mater, Wesleyan University.

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Beyond Prestige: The Right Way to Choose a College

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 7:31 PM

The following is cross-posted with Valerie Strauss' blog on The Washington Post.

In April each year, I post something about college choice. Campuses like mine this time of year welcome hundreds of visitors who move around the grounds with assurance, but also with plenty of questions. These are...

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Terrorism, Education and Community

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2015 | 11:56 AM

Today is Good Friday, one of the most important holidays for Christians across the globe, the start of Easter weekend. This evening marks the beginning of Passover, a time for Jews of commemoration and hope for freedom. And so the reports from Africa fall particularly hard. Religious and non-religious people...

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Review of "The Girl from Human Street" by Roger Cohen

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2015 | 2:07 PM

'Jews learn selectively from the past," writes Roger Cohen, "just like everybody else." But how (and whom) does one select or forget? We build stories from our memories to cope with the ghosts that haunt us or to avoid them. As a distinguished reporter and columnist, Cohen has spent a...

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Worthy of Free Expression

(1) Comments | Posted January 10, 2015 | 1:27 PM

I was in Washington, D.C. this week to give a talk on "why liberal education matters" at American University. Most of the audience had been in conference sessions all morning Friday while I sat glued to the TV watching events unfold in Paris. I'd lived in Paris for a few...

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Making Education Our Cause

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 1:18 PM

In conjunction with the publication of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, I've been having conversations with groups around the country on the future of higher education.

The assault on education has been brutal in many parts of the world -- especially education for girls and...

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Why They Attack Schools

(9) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 9:24 PM

This morning's horrific news came from Pakistan. Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar, killing at least 145. Children were gunned down in their classrooms, or as they attempted to flee. Teachers and other staff members were murdered in cold blood.

Several months ago we watched in horror as...

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Attack Ad to Beat All Attack Ads

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 1:40 PM

Those of us in higher education often say that liberal learning includes the preparation for citizenship. It's great to see an example of that preparation grounded in the collaborative work of faculty and students.

The Wesleyan Media Project conducts quantitative and qualitative research to understand more fully the...

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Colleges Don't Need More Tests or More 'Sheep'

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 11:05 AM

You've probably heard the buzz around William Deresiewicz's polemic against the "miseducation of the American elite." In the most widely read article in the history of The New Republic, Deresiewicz lambasted Ivy League schools (and others) for attracting students who will do almost anything to build a résumé...

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