Bradley J. Birzer
Bradley J. Birzer (Courtesy photo/University of Colorado)

The University of Colorado has a new conservative scholar, Bradley J. Birzer, the Boulder campus announced Tuesday.

Birzer will begin his term as CU's second visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy in the fall. He follows Steven Hayward in the three-year pilot program designed to bring more political diversity to the Boulder campus.

Birzer comes to CU after 15 years at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he has been professor of history and the Russell Amos Kirk chair in American studies. He was chosen by a committee from a pool of five finalists for the position.

Having grown up in Kansas, Birzer said his family often vacationed in Colorado, so the one-year stint will feel a bit like coming home.

Birzer's interests include American political history and the religious symbolism of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

He is scheduled to teach four undergraduate courses next year, including a freshman course in the Sewall residential academic program and an upper-division course on the foundations of Western civilization. He is also encouraged to host public events during his term.

Though it's still early, Birzer said he would like to host seminars on some historical figures who are not well known or who have been forgotten, such as Willa Cather, Ray Bradbury and T.S. Eliot, just to name a few.

"There are a huge number of figures that were very important in their own day that have been largely forgotten now," he said. "I'd like to let people know about some really interesting voices in the early 20th century."


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Birzer said he sees conservatism as remembering and learning from important parts of the past, such as literature, art and culture.

He said it's his role to add a voice to ongoing conversations on campus and in the community.

"I'm not conservative in the sense that maybe a Rush Limbaugh or a George Bush is conservative," he said. "I'm not coming out to rabble-rouse in any way. It's just not my personality."

Birzer's predecessor, Hayward, came under fire this spring for comments he made during a radio interview and in a blog post about the LGBTQ community and about sexual harassment. However, Hayward said during an exit presentation to CU's Board of Regents that his experience in Boulder was overwhelmingly positive.

Birzer said he didn't know enough about the Hayward situation to comment on what happened, but said he's open to some "great dialogue" with students, faculty members and the public.

"If a person's a person, they're a person," he said. "It doesn't really matter what their background is and what they believe. Let's talk as fellow humans, however you can define that, and go from there."

The conservative scholar pilot program is supported by $1 million in private funds from more than 20 donors.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.