The University of Colorado Boulder's Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy has doubled the number of visiting scholars for the 2018-2019 academic year from one to two in an attempt to build the center's prominence on campus.
The visiting scholars will be part of the center's Conservative Thought and Policy Program, which aims to bring intellectual diversity to campus, according to the program's website.
"The center's primary mission is to showcase for students the variety of intellectual perspectives, and we think these two scholars will both be excellent in that role," said the center's director, Robert Pasnau.
The center expanded to include the program in 2015, and has seen continued development since then.
"The Conservative Thought and Policy Program's growth and popularity reaffirms the importance and appetite for diverse perspectives across American institutions," said Russell Moore, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.
CU, known for its liberal-leaning students and faculty, has made attempts to balance the perspectives of both liberals and conservatives on campus, where only 16.3 percent of students and 6 percent of faculty identify as Republican, according to a social climate survey from 2014.
"The aim is to increase the center's impact on students and on the community, and the best way to do that is to increase the presence of the center on campus," Pasnau said.
The department's funding has also compounded since its debut. When Pasnau took over as director of the center in 2011, he raised $33,000. Last year, the center received around $700,000, he said.
"We're very actively engaged in fundraising, and have had a fair amount of success in generating support from the community for the center's programs," he said.
The center is funded exclusively by private donations, where a majority of contributions come from individual donors and some come from grants, Pasnau said.
The selected visiting scholars — W.B. Allen, of Michigan State University, and Stephen B. Presser, from the Northwestern University School of Law — were chosen for their extensive publication records and history of excellence in teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels, Pasnau said.
The center could also afford to host them both, he added.
Bob Kaufman, a professor at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, was selected as visiting scholar for the 2017-2018 academic year.
"I've had a very positive experience," Kaufman said. "I have nothing but high praise, other than they should give us a parking space next time."
He currently teaches two classes at the university: The Post-Cold War World: U.S. Strategies and also War, Peace and Strategic Defense.
Kaufman noted his experiences at CU were not his first encounters with a liberal student body. Before he taught at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., he taught in Burlington, Vt., home of Bernie Sanders, he said. He's also participated in 120 panels over 10 years at the Conference on World Affairs that CU hosts annually, he said.
"Being a conservative at the CWA is like being the best-dressed person in the physics department," he said. "I'm not sure if I'm good or if they're absolutely desperate."
Kaufman continues to participate at CU because of his wonderful host family, the beauty of the city and because, well, he's willing to speak anywhere as long as his right to free speech isn't abridged, he said.
"I don't find the atmosphere in any way chilling," he said. "My motto is, if I dish out more than I take, I sleep very well at night. I've lost sleep very few nights. I've probably caused a lot more suffering."
The center currently hosts four resident scholars, and will likely host another four next year, Pasnau said. He hopes to have as many as 10 resident scholars in the future.
"The center has been growing for the last few years and we hope will continue to grow in the years ahead," he said.
Moore added: "CU Boulder is proud to be a leader in the thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas."