Guilford College – Then And Now

I graduated Guilford College in 1979 with an A.B. I had a double major in Political Science and Economics. The basic cost for attending Guilford in 1978-79 without any financial aid was $4,280. This included tuition, room, board, and fees.

Today in 2020, the cost has risen to $52,920 and it will be higher in the next school year. The inflation rate from 1979 to 2020 is an average of 6.325% annually. By contrast, the average inflation rate based upon the Consumer Price Index from 1980 to 2020 is 2.92%.

What brought this up was an email I received on Friday from Guilford College with a letter from Interim President Carol Moore. It told how the school was revamping and retrenching. Many majors would be eliminated and tenured faculty was being let go.

To be frank, after reading the email I was appalled. I was appalled by what she decided were the essential majors going forward. Mind you, Guilford College is a liberal arts college which used to provide a well-rounded education. The science departments were well known for sending on graduates to industry, to PhD programs, and to med school. The social science departments had a reputation for placing graduates in law and graduate schools.

Here is the list of majors and concentrations in 1978-79 taken straight from the college catalog:

Concentrations were offered in classics, environmental sciences, history of science, non-western studies, and social services.

There were also cooperative 3-2 programs which allowed students to do three years at Guilford and two years at other schools to receive dual degrees. These included engineering with Georgia Tech, environmental and forestry sciences with the School of Forestry at Duke, medical technology with Wake Forest’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and the physician assistant’s program also with the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.

Fast forward to Friday and this is what is being proposed as majors going forward:

With respect to specific programs, I have recommended that the College offer 23 majors:

African and African American Studies
English and Media Studies
– Creative Writing (track)
Experience Design
International Studies
Theatre Studies
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Business Administration
Criminal Justice
Education Studies
Integrative Studies
Sport Management
– Forensic Biology (track)
Computing Technology and Information Systems
Cyber and Network Security
Environmental Studies
Exercise and Sport Sciences
Health Sciences
Public Health
Sustainable Food Systems

Many other courses of study will be available as minors or as courses to support the general education program.

I had to look up on the current college website some of these majors. Experience design? Integrative studies?

Turns out “experience design” is a fancy term for graphics arts and “integrative studies” is a make your own major thing.

I’m not even going to get into the majors in “grievance studies”. I do find it odd that a school founded by the Society of Friends (Quakers) no longer has a major in Religious Studies or even Philosophy. Given the Quakers are pacifists, it is even odder that Peace Studies has bitten the dust.

What I am seeing is a mixture of fluff and trade school majors with the occasional true liberal arts major left as a sop to traditionalists like me. Many of the majors like public health, exercise and sports sciences, and “sustainable food systems” are better offered at public universities which have more depth at a lower cost. If I wanted to be an organic farmer, I’d be going to an ag school and not a liberal arts college.

Pardon me if I feel a little saddened by all of this. I still believe in the value of a true liberal arts education. It is and has always been a bedrock of becoming an informed citizen who can critically think, cogently express ideas, and discern fact from fiction.

Fortunately, it seems alumni and students are not taking this lying down. A Facebook group called Save Guilford College has been formed and has grown to over 2,300 members in little more than a week.

What happens next will be up to the Board of Trustees.

As for me, I’m just glad I graduated when I did. It is a sad thing to say that you wouldn’t attend the current iteration of a place you spent four really good years.

3 thoughts on “Guilford College – Then And Now”

  1. It’s worse than you think. Most if not all of the other majors have been infiltrated by grievance studies. Even things like IT and accounting are suspect these days.

    1. John , I agree with you 100 %. I graduated few years after you in 1982. I remember the student election in the fall of 1980 with Ronald Reagan getting over 50 % of the vote. Bitter Jimmy Carter was not even second ! An obscure candidate from Ohio was second.
      Crazy how the liberal slant has taken over.
      Back when you and I were at Guilford, High Point College and Elon were just dots on map. Has anyone seen them now ? They are both incredible schools.
      Too many Guilford graduates become snowflakes and easily get offended in the work world. Who wants to work with a person like that in their professional lives?
      Coming out of college with a chip on your shoulder is no way to enter the work force.
      When a college has very minimal alumni support, that should tell you something.
      Your last paragraph rings so true.

      1. John:

        Have been thinking about Guilford recently and their attempt to “right the ship” by forming various and sundry “committees” to come up with a strategy and plan to reorganize and move the college forward “into bright sunlight and verdant, green, upland pastures”. I began wondering why, instead, they didn’t hire a high profile consultant who would put out a questionnaire to faculty, students, alumni, friends etc. so the trustees, and powers that be, would be better able to judge the temper, feelings, and general mood about what should and should not be done. Instead, in addition to their “committees”, they have gone the route of the tired, safe, bogus, “town meeting” format to solicit input. My feeling is that they pretty well know the feedback they might receive, and don’t want to hear it, relying instead on their own, sanitized, ideological, “in house”, format of attack. I think we are probably witnessing:

        1. A lack of money to do the job right?
        2. Quaker intransigence to make a move away from a “social justice” mind set?
        3. Unwillingness to make Guilford a strong liberal arts institution built on the foundation of Western Civilization and our Judeo-Christian heritage?
        4. A preconceived and foregone conclusion? ( the fix is in?)
        5. No strong leadership from, or experience of, what appears to be a youngish bunch of committee members?

        I’ll watch with great interest to see how Guilford will wield “critical race theory”, ” the cancel culture”, “systemic racism”, and “white supremacy” to shore up dear old alma mater, lay a path to the future, and solidify their place among the ranks of national liberal arts colleges.

        God Bless and Godspeed

        John Morgan, Guilford College Class of 1969

        Go Quakers!

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