Hillsdale College

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Hillsdale College
Hillsdale College seal.jpg
Former names
Michigan Central College
Motto Virtus Tentamine Gaudet
Motto in English
Strength Rejoices in the Challenge
Established December 4, 1844
Type Liberal arts college
Endowment $295 million (2011)[1]
President Larry P. Arnn
Provost David M. Whalen
Academic staff
124 full-time, 40 adjunct
Undergraduates 1,486
Location Hillsdale, Michigan, USA
41°55′59″N 84°37′55″W / 41.933°N 84.632°W / 41.933; -84.632Coordinates: 41°55′59″N 84°37′55″W / 41.933°N 84.632°W / 41.933; -84.632
Campus Rural, 200 acres (82 buildings)
Colors Blue and White         
Athletics NCAA Division II; 11 varsity intercollegiate sports teams
Nickname Chargers
Website www.hillsdale.edu

Hillsdale College is a co-educational, non-profit liberal arts college in Hillsdale, Michigan, United States. National Review has described Hillsdale as "the conservative Harvard."[2] It was the first American college to prohibit admissions discrimination based on race, sex, or religion in its written 1844 charter.[3] Most of the curriculum is based on and centered on the teaching of the Western heritage as a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition.[4] Hillsdale requires every student, regardless of major, to complete a core curriculum that includes courses on the Great Books and the U.S. Constitution.[5]



Hillsdale in the nineteenth century

Hillsdale College was established as Michigan Central College in Spring Arbor, Michigan, on December 4, 1844. Among others, George Harvey Ball, later founder of Keuka College and the Ball Brothers (founders of Ball Corporation and benefactors of Ball State University) played active roles in founding and sustaining Hillsdale College, respectively.[6] Members of the local Freewill Baptists community supported the college's establishment as their denomination’s first collegiate institution.[7] In the nineteenth century Hillsdale and Bates College in Maine were the only American colleges associated with this denomination.[8] Although religiously affiliated, the college remained officially nonsectarian, stating that “no person shall be excluded from any privilege, immunity or situation in said college on account of his religious opinions.” Hillsdale no longer has any denominational affiliation, and Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Oklahoma was founded after Hillsdale College disaffiliated itself with the denomination.

Under its first president Daniel McBride Graham, who held the office from 1844 to 1848, the college opened within a two-room store and admitted five students. By the end of its first year, the college had enrolled twenty-five undergraduates.[9][10]

In 1848 Edmund Burke Fairfield assumed the presidency of Michigan Central College. In two years the Michigan state legislature chartered the college, authorizing it to grant degrees.[11] Independent from its outset, the college became one of the first in the United States to prohibit in its charter any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, or sex.[12] Black students were admitted immediately after the college's 1844 founding,[3] and the college became the second school in the nation to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women.[13][14]

After outgrowing its Spring Arbor location, Michigan Central College moved to the city of Hillsdale, Michigan, closer to the railroad, and received considerable financial support from the local citizens.[15] The cornerstone of the new building, Central Hall, was laid on the Fourth of July, 1853, and Michigan Central College was renamed Hillsdale College.[16] The fledgling institution opened with a record enrollment of nearly six hundred students and in 1856 the it became the largest collegiate establishment in Michigan, a position it would hold for the rest of the nineteenth century.[17]

During these early years, President Fairfield and Professor Ransom Dunn contributed its academic and institutional growth. Dunn, a professor and preacher at Hillsdale for half a century, rode 6,000 miles across the Midwestern plains and the Western frontier throughout the 1850s to raise money for construction of the new hilltop campus buildings.[18] Edmund Burke Fairfield also led Hillsdale from 1848 to 1869.[10] During his presidency, he helped found the Republican Party, with Professor Dunn in neighboring Jackson, Michigan.[19] A prominent leader in the newfound party, Fairfield was present at the party’s first convention and was elected Lieutenant-Governor of Michigan in 1858. Hillsdale’s early anti-slavery reputation and pivotal role in founding the Republican party led to the invitation of several notable speakers on the campus, including Frederick Douglass (who visited the school on two separate occasions) and Edward Everett, the orator preceding Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.[20]

19th Century[edit]

Many Hillsdale students served in the Union army during the American Civil War. Indeed, a higher percentage of Hillsdale students enlisted than from any other Michigan college.[21] In 1964 The Detroit Tribune published, “probably no college in the country is better represented in the Union that [Hillsdale]. It has sent its young men to the war by hundreds.”[22] Hillsdale remained in operation throughout wartime, albeit with limited enrollment, as the college over five hundred volunteers to the war. Half of Hillsdale’s students became officers, five became lieutenant-colonels, three received the Congressional Medal of Honor, and three became generals. Sixty students died in the war.[23]

Hillsdale survived the war while nearly eighty percent of colleges founded before the Civil War closed. After the war, the college regained its normal enrollment; many veterans returned and completed their education there. In 1869, James Calder succeeded president Fairfield. Calder was the college's third president, serving from 1869 to 1871. During his three year administration, the commercial school opened, he established a theological department, and the college enrolled around 750 students. He resigned to become president of the Pennsylvania State University.[10]

Hillsdale’s first president, Daniel McBride Graham, returned for a brief second term in 1871, rebuilding the campus after a catastrophic fire.[24] Soon afterwards DeWitt Clinton Durgin, a graduate of Union College, held the presidency from 1874 to 1878.[10] George F. Mosher served from 1886 to 1901.[10][25][26]

During the 1880s, two sororities, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi, and one fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, chartered chapters on Hillsdale’s campus. Over this time the college grew in size and prestige. By 1891, the Chicago Herald reported, “Hillsdale has a college second in standing to no denominational college in the country.” Four years later, when the University of Chicago offered to affiliate with Hillsdale, the college rejected their proposal.[27]

20th Century[edit]

Joseph William Mauck was the sixth president, leading from 1902 to 1922.[10] He was an outspoken advocate for women's suffrage.[28][29] He was succeeded by William Gear Spencer from 1922 to 1932,[10] who departed to lead Franklin College.[30]

Willfred Otto Mauck was the eighth president from 1933 to 1942. He was succeeded by Harvey L. Turner from 1942 to 1952, and J. Donald Phillips from 1952 to 1971.[10]

George Roche III was the eleventh president of Hillsdale College, serving from 1971 to 1999. During his presidency, the college increased its endowment, established the Center for Constructive Alternatives, brought prominent national speakers to campus, and published Imprimis, Hillsdale's speech digest.[10] He resigned on November 10, 1999 after being placed on a leave of absence by the college's board of directors. This occurred amid the controversy surrounding the suicide of his daughter-in-law, Lissa Jackson Roche, following her confession of an affair with Roche.

On October 17, 1999, Lissa Jackson Roche, the daughter-in-law of the former late Hillsdale President George Roche III committed suicide in the gazebo of the Slayton Arboretum.[31]

Lissa Roche was married to Roche's son, George Roche IV, and was employed by the college as managing editor of Imprimis and Hillsdale college press [32] During a visit to Roche in the hospital with Roche IV, Lissa confessed to a 19-year on-and-off affair with her father-in-law.[33] Following her confession, Lissa committed suicide with a .38-caliber handgun obtained from Roche IV's gun cabinet.[31]

The controversy surrounding Lissa's death led to Roche's retirement on November 10, 1999 after the board placed Roche on a leave of absence. Roche denied the affair, and Hillsdale did not release an official statement as to why Roche stepped down.[31][34]

Following his retirement, Roche was accused of hypocrisy and demagoguery by many conservatives, who were also incensed by the college's defensive press releases and conflicting stories. [35] Roche and Hillsdale were eviscerated in national media outlets and suffered at the hands of the conservative National Review and The Weekly Standard.[31][33][35][36][37]

Roche had been suspected of impropriety previously, including claims of extramarital affairs with Hillsdale students, employees, and other women. Two former Hillsdale employees claimed that the administration and board of trustees had evidence of Roche's philandering as early as ten years previous to Lissa's suicide.[31][33][36] One Hillsdale professor anonymously called Roche "a phony and a fraud," and another suspected Roche of "putting the moves on his wife." [33] Others described Roche's tenure as a "Gestapo police state," "a Stalinist kind of environment," and was accused by former associate professor of political science Thomas Payne of being "A cult leader masquerading as a college president." [36]

These events were documented in a 2000 book Hillsdale: Greek Tragedy in America's Heartland. [38]

21st Century[edit]

Dr. Larry P. Arnn currently serves as president of the college, a position he assumed in 2000.[39] Arnn is one of the highest paid liberal arts college presidents in the United States, earning an annual compensation package in 2009 totaling $608,615, which includes a base salary of $289,867.[40][41]

In 2013 Hilldale president Larry Arnn was criticized for his remarks about ethnic minorities when he testified before the Michigan State Legislature. In testimony against the Common Core curriculum standards, in which Arnn expressed concern about government interference with educational institutions, he recalled that shortly after he assumed the presidency at Hillsdale he received a letter from the state Department of Education that said his college "violated the standards for diversity," adding, "because we didn't have enough dark ones, I guess, is what they meant." After being criticized for calling minorities "dark ones", he explained that he was referring to "dark faces", saying: "The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards ... to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw. We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?"[42] Michigan House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel condemned Arnn for his comments, which he called "offensive" and "inflammatory and bigoted", and asked for an apology.[43] The College issued a statement apologizing for Arnn's remark, while reiterating Arnn's concern about "state sponsored racism" in the form of affirmative action policies.[44]


Hillsdale enrolls more than 1,400 students from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and eight foreign countries. The college employs 124 full-time faculty members.[45] Hillsdale was ranked 69th in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report listing of best National Liberal Arts Colleges.[46] It ranks tenth for "most conservative" students and 8th for "professors get high marks" in the Princeton Review's evaluation of The Best 378 Colleges 2014.[47] Hillsdale also ranked 178th overall, including 34th in the Midwest and 134th in private colleges, in the 2014 Forbes report of America's Best Colleges.[48] Undergraduate offerings include a variety of liberal arts majors, pre-professional programs, a teacher education program, and a journalism certificate program.[49] Hillsdale College also manages Hillsdale Academy, a private K-12 liberal arts school.[50] A graduate program called the "Graduate School of Statesmanship" was inaugurated in 2012. Its focus is political philosophy and American politics; it awards Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Politics.[51]


Delp Hall and the Liberty Walk, facing Central Hall

Hillsdale's 200-acre (81 ha) campus contains multiple instructional and office buildings, thirteen residence halls, six fraternity and sorority houses, an athletic complex, music hall, arts center, conference center, hotel, and preschool.[49] Hillsdale College also manages Hillsdale Academy, a private K-12 liberal arts school.[50]

The college's Slayton Arboretum was officially created in 1922 when Mr. and Mrs. George A. Slayton donated 14 acres (5.7 ha) to the college. The Arboretum was envisioned as an outdoor laboratory and field station for students and a biological garden for the community. Initial planting was with donated plants and the labor of Hillsdale students and volunteers. In 1939, Slayton Arboretum was listed as one of Michigan's Points of Interest, and up to 700 people a day visited the site.[citation needed]

An unusual feature of the campus is the Statues of Liberty Walk, a walkway lined with the representations of well-known leaders and icons of Western culture. These include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher. A statue of Ronald Reagan was dedicated on October 7, 2011, in the centennial year of his birth. Reagan spoke at the college in 1977, stating, "Hillsdale deserves the appreciation of all who labor for freedom."[52]


Non-discrimination and affirmative action[edit]

Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion, or sex. Its non-discrimination policy remained controversial throughout its history. For example, Hillsdale's football team refused to play in the 1956 Tangerine Bowl in Florida when the governing committee of the Bowl would not allow the team's black players to join the white players on the field; the committee then selected Juniata College instead.[53][54]

In the late 1970s, the college took a stand in opposition to affirmative action.[citation needed] Because some students were receiving federal loans, the U.S. federal government asserted that it could require Hillsdale College to submit Assurance of Compliance forms mandated by Title IX as a condition of the continued receipt of federal financial assistance by two hundred Hillsdale students. Hillsdale refused compliance on the grounds that affirmative action was racial discrimination. This ongoing dispute with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) began to intensify in 1979 when the College filed a petition for judicial review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asking the court to overturn a previous decision by the Reviewing Authority, Office of Civil Rights of HEW. In December 1982, the Sixth Circuit upheld Hillsdale's refusal to sign the compliance forms but also ruled that government aid to individual students could be terminated without a finding that a college actually discriminated. In February 1984, in a related case, Grove City College v. Bell, the Supreme Court required every college or university to fulfill federal requirements – past and future requirements – if its students received federal aid. As a result of the court's decision, Hillsdale withdrew from all federal assistance beginning with the 1984–85 academic year; Grove City College, the defendant in that case, followed Hillsdale's lead four years later.

Beginning with the 2007–2008 academic year, Hillsdale also stopped accepting Michigan state assistance, instead matching any funds that a student would have received from the state with its own aid.[55] Since 2007, Hillsdale's entire operating budget of the college, including scholarships, comes from private funding and endowments.

In 2010 Hillsdale's "Resolution Against Federal Interference," stated that both Congress and the Obama administration appeared, "even more than the worst of their predecessors, bent on extending federal control over American higher education and other areas of American life."[56]

Treadgold case[edit]

In 1987, Hillsdale College's dean of women and another faculty member became involved in litigation concerning the selection of the editor of the student newspaper, The Hillsdale Collegian. Some faculty members discussed their views on the litigation in a letter to the editor. The College subsequently declined to renew the contract of one of the faculty members, Prof. Warren Treadgold, stating that its decision was due to performance-based factors unrelated to the litigation and letter. Professor Treadgold, on the other hand, felt he was dismissed for his participation in the letter. The matter was reviewed by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an association that represents the interests of professors, which concluded that Hillsdale's action violated the Association's standards. AAUP also stated that the vice president of the college, Dr. Reist, told Treadgold that his involvement in the letter was "unwise, unbecoming and unprofessional"."[57] Hillsdale has never sought a retraction of the AAUP’s allegations. Hillsdale asserts that the AAUP’s authority to censure is self-appointed. Also, the college is concerned that the AAUP’s proposed faculty-review board would have authority to overturn decisions of Hillsdale’s Board of Trustees, which Hillsdale asserts is the ultimate authority for personnel issues at Hillsdale.[58]


Center for Constructive Alternatives[edit]

Further information: Imprimis

Hillsdale brings speakers to campus through its Center for Constructive Alternatives program, one of the largest college lecture series in America.[citation needed] Lectures are open to the public.[59] Speakers have included Stephen Ambrose, Benazir Bhutto, Harry Browne, Russell Kirk, Harvey Mansfield, Charles Murray, Ralph Nader, P.J. O'Rourke, Phyllis Schlafly, and Juan Williams.[60][61] Lectures and speeches from the series are published monthly in Imprimis,[62] and distributed monthly for free. First published in 1972, Imprimis has a circulation of over two million subscribers.[63]

Barney Charter School Initiative[edit]

The college's Barney Charter School Initiative was established to support the launch of K-12 charter schools based on a classical liberal arts model, with a strong civics component to "equip students to understand and defend the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."[64]

Allan P. Kirby Center[edit]

Hillsdale operates the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C. The Kirby Center also provides assistance to Hillsdale students that are participating in Washington internships[65] and co-sponsors the James Madison Fellows Program with the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. It engages with senior-level congressional staff members who the college describes as "dedicated to making first principles the foremost consideration in public policy formation".[66] A monthly lecture series hosted by the center is the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series, which was started in 2008. The series has included lectures by David Horowitz, Brian Kennedy, John Bolton, and Hillsdale professor Paul Rahe.[67] The Kirby Center also hosts an annual Constitution Day celebration and conducts online, interactive town halls on matters related to the Constitution.[citation needed]

Campus life[edit]


The College has a number of sports teams that compete on the NCAA Division II level, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, softball, women's swimming, track and field, cross country, and volleyball.[68] The college also has club teams and intramural sports that vary from year to year.[69] The Chargers, as the Hillsdale athletics teams are known, compete in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Hillsdale College nickname is the Chargers [70]

Football coach Frank "Muddy" Waters was the head coach at Hillsdale from 1954–1973. The football stadium, Frank Waters Stadium, is named in his honor.[71]

Chargers athletes have enjoyed numerous accolades in their respective sports, and many have moved on to the professional level: Football - Jared Veldheer (Oakland Raiders), Andre Holmes (Oakland Raiders) Basketball - Cory Coe (United States, Portugal and Germany), Tim Deselski (Luxembourg), Tony Gugino (Bulgaria, Switzerland), Brad Guinane (United Kingdom), Michael Lake (Germany), Tim Martin (Canada), Nick Washburn (Spain). [72]


National Runners-up:

  • 1957: Football – NAIA[73]
  • 1992: Men's Cross Country – NAIA[75]
  • 1994: Men's Cross Country – NAIA[75]
  • 1992: NAIA Men's Outdoor Track & Field, High Jump : Jim McHugh
  • 1994: NCAA DII Indoor Track & Field, High Jump : Jim McHugh
  • 2014: NCAA DII Women's Cross Country, [76]

Basketball Final Four:

  • 1981: Men's Basketball – NAIA Division I[77]

Greek life[edit]

North-American Interfraternity Conference Fraternities

National Panhellenic Conference Sororities

Alma mater[edit]

Hillsdale's alma mater is "White and Blue." The words and melody were composed by Bess Hagaman Tefft, Class of 1937.[85]

Notable people[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Present faculty[edit]

Visiting faculty and fellows[edit]

Past faculty[edit]


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  86. ^ Hillsdale College faculty profile: Larry P. Arnn
  87. ^ Hillsdale College faculty profile: Michael Bauman
  88. ^ Hillsdale College faculty profile: Burton Folsom
  89. ^ Mackinac Center for Public Policy biography of Gary L. Wolfram
  90. ^ a b c d e f g Hillsdale College Distinguished Visiting Fellows
  91. ^ Hillsdale College Department-Sponsored Speakers
  92. ^ Hillsdale College faculty profile: Allan Carlson
  93. ^ The Future of Freedom Foundation biography of Richard Ebeling
  94. ^ College Football Hall of Fame Muddy Waters

External links[edit]