I see much mention of moral mission, ethical mission, service mission, and such. I think a great university must be concerned first of all with an intellectual or academic mission.

There is a liberal tendency to meddle in all directions, and finally this can be destructive to what should be a university's first priorities. I'm often stunned to see that our great universities pay almost no attention to the illiteracy and ignorance in our public schools. I would bet that the average alumnus has no idea how advanced the decline is. Professor Deneen, once at Princeton, now at Notre Dame, said that many of his students are "know nothings" who don't know, for example, which side won the Civil War.

My sense is that less than half the kids graduating from public school can read fluently, that is, easily and for pleasure. What used to be taken for granted in the fourth grade a century ago is now an impossible dream for millions of young adults. https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/05/k12_history_of_the_cons...

Do you wonder how this is possible? Easy. The schools use ineffective methods, as has been explained by many authors going back to Rudolf Flesch. A second part of the equation is that the surrounding society, in particular the institutions concerned with learning and culture, stand aside as culture is carefully destroyed. Princeton's proper mission is to oppose this destruction in every way possible.

Nassau Hall actually set up a team of people, at great trouble and expense, to identify students who might be persuaded to transfer to Princeton. I would like to see the exact same effort and expense exerted at putting pressure on K-12 across the country to do a better job starting in kindergarten. Then you would not have to search for these prospects. I don't understand the virtue of focusing on a few people when the whole society is in trouble.

In short, as I read about today's Princeton in the PAW, I have a sense of unease, and worry there is dereliction of duty.

I am glad to hear from alumni who would like further discussion of these issues.

Bruce Deitrick Price ’63
Virginia Beach, Va.