Hillsdale College

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Hillsdale College is a far-right Christian college located in Hillsdale, Michigan. They are strongly against social justice, diversity, and multiculturalism.[1] Hillsdale has a love-hate view when it comes to mass murderer and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The college was in favor of the Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine, but they essentially support the Russian occupation of Crimea, as they claim that it was in opposition to NATO expansion. Hillsdale College also condemned the invasion of Ukraine, but they also see Putin as a conservative strong man.[2]

Hillsdale College's current president is Larry Arnn.Wikipedia[3] Arnn is a co-founder of the Claremont Institute,Wikipedia[3] who in the mid to late 2010s was closely associated with the Donald Trump administration and was called by a former fellow as "one of the main intellectual architects... trying to overthrow the republic."[4] In a sign of Hillsdale College's commitment to academic rigor, since April 2019, the chairman of the Hillsdale College Board of Trustees has been Wheel of FortuneWikipedia TV personality Pat Sajak.Wikipedia[5]

Waging the war against public education[edit]

Being far-right fundamentalists, Hillsdale College has advocated for using public funds to fund private Christian schools; in contravention to separation of church and state. Conspiracy theories such as 2020 Election denialism, January 6th insurrection denialism, and COVID-19 denialism have been passed off as fact.[6]

In July 2022, Hillsdale president Arnn disparaged public educators, claiming that teachers "are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country" and that anyone could teach.[7] When the media called out the president of Hillsdale, the college responded that the comments were "taken out of context" and that footage was "deceptively edited". They also justify their actions by bringing up "gender ideology" in a case of whataboutism. Easier to cry conspiracy than considering the idea of taking responsibility for your actions.[8]

On October 4 2023, Hillsdale announced that Christopher Rufo would be joining as a distinguished fellow.[9] Christopher Rufo spearheaded the critical race theory manufactroversy,[10] a "controversy" that in reality was a movement designed to censor any discussion of minorities and the under-privileged from public schools.[11] Rufo also played a large role in Ron DeSantis's takeover of the small public New College of Florida.Wikipedia One of his telling actions after being appointed a trustee to the college by DeSantis was terminating a professor's contract for having left-wing views.[12]

1776 Curriculum[edit]

For more information, see: Nationalism in history textbooks

Hillsdale developed a K12 school curriculum known as the "1776 Curriculum" that promotes American exceptionalism, gutting much of actual American history and is designed to ignore modern prejudice against minority groups. This curriculum is endorsed by Ron DeSantis and Moms for Liberty. There is also the promotion of anti-vaxxer ideology. Hillsdale College also promotes banning books about racism, gender equality, addiction, sexual abuse and suicide.[3]

Hillsdale's "1776 Curriculum" descended from the 1776 Report, created by Donald Trump in 2020 to advocate "patriotic education" in the wake of anti-racism protests spurred by prominent police brutality against African-Americans.[13] The commission that produced the report contained no actual historians. The American Historical AssociationWikipedia (along with many other co-signatories) denounced the report as a form of "government indoctrination" that "elevate(s) ignorance about the past to a civic virtue", noting that the report bizarrely suggested that early 20th century progressive reformers were similar to Mussolini and other World War II fascists, and also noting that the report concluded by engaging in a "full-throated assault on American universities".[14] Hillsdale's derived curriculum is hardly any better; included in the curriculum are statements like "the civil rights movement was almost immediately turned into programs that ran counter to the lofty ideas of the Founders", and a description of legislation outlawing discrimination in restaurants, hotels, and theaters as "where the line between private conscience and government coercion began to blur".[15]

Barney Charter School Initiative[edit]

Hillsdale also runs a charter school initiative called the Barney Charter School Initiative, part of the Christian classical education movement.Wikipedia[16] This initiative advocates a supposed "back-to-basics" approach with a hyperfocus on Judeo-Christian Western civilization. The initiative has been criticized for lacking diversity, emphasizing Bible scripture as "values" and "virtues", promoting jingoism, demonizing social justice, de-emphasizing technology, and for being tinged with Christian nationalism.[17][18] Hillsdale's curriculum has also been criticized for being tilted towards conservative propaganda and paradigms. For instance, a school curriculum guide posted in one school's charter listed a book that called Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal an "economic legacy" that "has damaged America". A 2018 review of Hillsdale's science curriculum by the National Center for Science Education noted that climate change didn't appear at all as a subject, except for one mention of "global warming theory" in a sixth grade text.[19] In March 2023, one Hillsdale-affiliated charter school made headlines for firing a principal after a parent complained sixth graders were "exposed to" the "pornography" of the classic nude statue Michelangelo's David,Wikipedia a story that was so egregious that Hillsdale terminated their affiliation with the school.[20]

Vermilion Education[edit]

In late December 2022, a man named Jordan Adams founded Vermilion Education, a consulting service for school boards.[21] According to their web site, their goal was to help "school boards ensure an accurate, high-quality, and ideology-free education for their students."[22]

Of course, the "ideology-free" claim was, plain and simple, bullshit. Jordan Adams is a civic education specialist on the Hillsdale College staff, who also was a part of the 1776 Curriculum leadership team. In May 2022, Adams made some headlines in Florida when he was found to be one of the people the Ron DeSantis administration hired to review of math book texts to make sure they did not fall afoul of the state's recent "critical race theory" laws. This despite Adams having a complete lack of math expertise to do so.[23]

Unsurprisingly, Adams appeared at the Moms for Liberty summit in July 2023. There, Adams outlined his real agenda with school boards: use the critical race theory manufactroversy to suppress minority and under-privileged discussion, eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion offices, and flood the previous administrators with useless administrative tasks in order to "put (the school board) on notice that they need to cooperate".[24][25] At the conference, Adams described himself as a "fox... in the henhouse" that was battling against a public education "machine" and working to remake schooling on behalf of "our side". Adams also disparaged against experts; according to Adams, the term "expert" "is a label to shut down any type of dialogue and pretend that you can’t use your own brain to figure things out."[24] This statement from him is not surprising considering that, for a purported education consultant, his résumé was very weak in non-administrative experience. Adams has a bachelor's degree in political science from Hillsdale, and a masters degree in humanities from the private Catholic university University of Dallas.Wikipedia He also had a mere two years of substitute teacher experience at Barney Charter schools prior to joining the Hillsdale College staff.[26][27]

Needless to say, as of January 2024, only one school district actually chose to work with Adams — Pennridge School District.Wikipedia The Republican dominated school board had become increasingly radicalized during the presidency of Donald Trump — in fact, the vice-president of the board at the time, Joan Cullen, actually went to the 2021 U.S. coup attempt and supported Trump's Big Lie on the 2020 election on social media.[28] By 2023, five of the nine board members were linked to Moms for Liberty.[29] Not surprisingly, on April 27 2023, the school board hired Adams and indicated that the board was considering implementing Hillsdale's 1776 Curriculum.[30]

This attempt to propagandize and dumb down school curriculum resulted in a massive backlash. Many of the actual parents of children in the district took a look at the 1776 Curriculum Adams was pushing and were extremely unimpressed, finding it inaccurate, "stale", "uninventive", "one-sided", and "intentionally misleading". A local paper called the curriculum indoctrination that was pushing a "far-right nationalistic agenda".[31] Adams charged $125 an hour for his services; this also angered parents, who caastigated the board for a lack of fiscal responsibility.[32] Adams' hiring was rushed, with the school board only having two days to review the decision. The haste and secrecy, seemingly intended to sneak an extreme right-wing educational agenda into the public school curriculum without the community noticing, actually had the opposite effect; after Adams was hired, school board meetings became largely devoted to protesting Adams and his extreme agenda.[29]

Thanks to the backlash, in the November 2023 Pennridge school board elections, Democrats swept all 5 of the open seats, transforming a 8-1 Republican majority board into a 6-3 Democrat majority board.[33] Vermilion's contract was terminated later that month.[34]

In April 2023, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, who then was on the board of Sarasota County Schools,Wikipedia also attempted to hire Adams as a consultant for that school district. However, due to concerns of the lack of experience of Adams, improper vetting time, and potential political agendas, the board rejected hiring Adams by a vote of 3-2.[35]

Freedom, just watch what you say[edit]

When it came to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hillsdale College was very concerned with supposed "widespread abuses of individual and academic freedom made in the name of science". To underscore this concern, in December 2021, they opened an "Academy for Science and Freedom" headed by three known advocates of COVID-19 denialism: Scott Atlas,Wikipedia Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff.[36] As an example of this concern, on October 22, 2022, they held an event entitled "Reversing the Ideological Capture of Universities", whose topics included such gems as "How We Lost Humanities to Ideology" and "The Woke Destruction of Data-Driven Inquiry".[37]

Ironically (but unsurprisingly), one advocacy group, Foundation for Individual Rights and ExpressionWikipedia (FIRE), was unimpressed with Hillsdale College's actual commitment to free speech on its own campus. In their 2024 college free speech rankings, Hillsdale College was placed in a special "warning" category, meaning that Hillsdale "have policies that clearly and consistently state that it prioritizes other values over a commitment to freedom of speech."[38] In a news posting, FIRE explained that the warning was due to Hillsdale College "policing students’ exposure to differing ideas about morality" and banning "lewd", "indecent", "[i]mproper", and "offensive" content (with arbitrary criteria for determining what is lewd or improper). FIRE also noted that multiple students felt that they could not openly express any sentiment that contradicted the pro-life, anti-homosexuality paradigm of the school; one student also commented that the "administration bans all forms of protest and dissent".[39]


Hillsdale College offers academic degrees in natural sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics. Unlike plenty of Christian schools covered on RationalWiki, Hillsdale openly teaches the theory of evolution. However Christian theology is still integrated into all academic courses. Other degrees include computer science, foreign languages such as Spanish and French, arts, theatre, business and education.[40] On the Hillsdale faculty is far right and "race realist" Ben Winegard. He is a major proponent of human biodiversity and is a vicious opponent of Black Lives Matter.[41]

Hillsdale Academy[edit]

Hillsdale Academy is a private Christian school that is owned and operated by Hillsdale College. The academy is classical education oriented. HA refuses any form of federal funding (despite the owners wanting public funding for private schools; go figure). There are many athletic teams and they host a clay shooting club.[42]


Hillsdale College has a history of racism so bad that it makes Bob Jones University's level of racism look tame in comparison. In 1973, the school newsletter advocated for the authoritarian racist colonial rule of Rhodesia and against free democratic elections. In 1988, college president George Roche spoke out against the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. The reason was that, somehow, it would divide people.[43] While touting that the college "was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, religion or sex, and became an early force for the abolition of slavery", Larry Arnn, the president of the college, referred to minority students as Dark Ones.[44]

Hillsdale College's dedication to racist policies has meant that since 1985, the university has forgone all federal dollars rather than comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964Wikipedia (as well as Title IX,Wikipedia which deals with sex discrimination).[45][46]

Allegations of rape culture[edit]

In October 2023, two students filed a lawsuit against Hillsdale College, alleging that they were raped while attending the college, and the college failed to help them in the aftermath. According to the lawsuit, when the two reported the incident to the administration, the process was unclear and even accusatory. One outside attorney suggested to one victim that she ought to try to be friends with the attacker in the future. For the other victim, the school's general counsel allegedly told the other victim that she "reported her rape only after she came to regret a consensual sexual encounter", and threatened consequences if she continued to inquire about the investigation.[47][48] The two victims alleged that none of the attackers suffered any significant consequences for the alleged rape.[48][47] In the lawsuit, attorneys argued that the school had "fostered a campus environment that exposes students to an unacceptable and unusually high risk of sexual assault."[48]

Betraying their roots[edit]

Ironically, Arnn is correct in one angle: the college's roots are anything but steeped in racism. The college was founded in 1844 by anti-slavery Baptists, specifically the Free Will BaptistWikipedia sect, and was open to African-Americans and women from the beginning.[3][49] A statue of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass,Wikipedia who spoke at Hillsdale in 1888, exists on their campus.[50] Hillsdale was the first college in the nation to prohibit discrimination in its charter. The university fought efforts to segregate its ROTCWikipedia unit in World War I, and refused to play in a college football bowl game that barred its black players from the field in 1955.[51]

Hillsdale began turning towards the Dark Side culture war conservatism during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, particularly in 1971 when George Roche IIIWikipedia was appointed as university president.[50] Roche III was part of the libertarian think-tank Foundation for Economic Education, whom were supportive of the Southern Strategy and were critical of Brown v. Board of Education and other civil rights legislation.[51] During Roche III's tenure, Hillsdale seminars included racists and segregationists like James Kilpatrick,Wikipedia Strom Thurmond, and Jared Taylor (the latter argued in a Hillsdale sponsored lecture that minorities were genetically inferior and more suited to manual labor).[51] Roche III's clout with the conservative movement was such that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan to the National Council on Educational ResearchWikipedia in 1984.[52]

As an administrator, Roche III was known for being a tyrant, to the point where a former employee claimed that the working environment was "rather Stalinist".[53] The American Association of University ProfessorsWikipedia censured Hillsdale in 1988 for terminating a professor merely for criticizing the administration.[54]

Roche III's tenure ended with the explosive revelation of his family values: in 1999, a daughter-in-law of his named Lissa Roche (who was married to George IV Roche, Roche III's elder son) claimed that she and Roche III had been off-and-on lovers for 19 of the 21 years Roche III had been married to his recently divorced wife. Later, Lissa Roche committed suicide.[46][53] Due to the fallout, Roche III resigned from the college (with a rumored "golden parachuteWikipedia" to the tune of 3 million dollars),[46] somehow managing to still state in his resignation letter that "we have proved that integrity, values and courage can still triumph in a corrupt world."[55]

See also[edit]


  1. Mission, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  2. How to think about Vladimir Putin, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 NBC News, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  4. Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker,The Claremont Institute triumphed in the Trump years. Then came Jan. 6. The Washington Post, 30 July 2022.
  5. "Hillsdale College Welcomes Pat Sajak as New Board of Trustees Chairman", Hillsdale College, press release, 2019 April 29
  6. Salon, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  7. "Teachers go to the ‘dumbest colleges’ — who said it and why it matters" by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, 2022 July 9
  8. The Collegian, Retrieved on August 19, 2023.
  9. "Christopher F. Rufo Joins Hillsdale College as a Distinguished Fellow ", Hillsdale College, 2023 October 4
  10. "How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict over Critical Race Theory" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New Yorker, 2021 June 18
  11. "The racist campaign against ‘critical race theory’ threatens democracy and economic transformation" by Marokey Sawo and Asha Banerjee, Economic Policy Institute, 2021 August 9
  12. "Christopher Rufo’s Alarming and Deceptive Crusade Against Public Universities" by Jeremy C. Young, Time, 2023 August 30
  13. "Trump’s 1776 Commission Critiques Liberalism in Report Derided by Historians" by Michael Crowley and Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 2021 January 20
  14. "AHA Condemns Report of Advisory 1776 Commission (January 2021)", AHA Council Statement, 2021 January 20
  15. "REVEALED: Hillsdale controversy brings rare bipartisan unity on need to review proposed charter schools" by Phil Williams, NewsChannel5 Nashville, 2022 July 14
  16. "New breed of charter school pushes limits on separation of church, state" by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, 2023 June 8
  17. "A Sharp Turn Right: A New Breed of Charter Schools Delivers the Conservative Agenda", Network for Public Education, July 2023
  18. "What is the classical education curriculum model?" by Ana Ceballos and Sommer Brugal, Tampa Bay Times, 2023 February 17
  19. "A College Fights ‘Leftist Academics’ by Expanding Into Charter Schools" by Stephanie Saul, New York Times, 2022 April 10
  20. "College ends partnership with school over the David issue", AP News, 2023 March 30
  21. "The Vermilion Education One-Man Show" by Mercedes Schneider, 2023 July 18
  22. "Services for School Boards and Districts", Vermilion Education, archived 2023 May 17
  23. "Florida math textbooks weren't evaluated by just math experts" by Tim Kephart, ABC News, 2022 May 6
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Consultant hired by Pennridge schools told Moms for Liberty audience that ‘the fox is in the henhouse’" by Maddie Hanna, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2023 July 14
  25. "Leaked Audio Of Vermilion Education Head Jordan Adams’s Presentation To Moms For Liberty", Bucks County Beacon, 2023 July 12
  26. "BCSI Staff Spotlight - Jordan Adams" by Avery Lacey, Hillsdale College, archived on 2021 July 8
  27. "The right-wing scheme to upend public education — for $125 per hour" by Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria, Popular Information blog, 2023 July 5
  28. "Months into a new presidency, election tensions are still raw in this Bucks County school district" by Katie Meyer, WHYY, 2021 March 30
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Moms for Liberty meets its match: Parents in this swing suburban district are fighting back" by Amanda Marcotte, Salon, 2023 October 10
  30. "Pennridge school board hires consultant with ties to conservative college to review curriculum" by Maddie Hanna, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2023 April 27
  31. "Pennridge Parents, Teachers Criticize Vermilion Education’s Push To Require Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum For The District" by Jenny Stephens, Bucks County Beacon, 2023 August 23
  32. "Vermilion CEO faces angry crowd at Pennridge school board meeting over curriculum recommendations" by John Worthington, The reporter, 2023 June 21
  33. "Democrats sweep Pennridge School Board" by John Worthington, The Reporter, 2023 November 8
  34. "Pennridge ends contract with former Hillsdale employee who promised ‘ideology-free’ education" by Maddie Hanna, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2023 November 28
  35. "Sarasota school board votes against hiring consultant linked to Hillsdale College" by Katie LaGrone, ABC Action News, 2023 April 19
  36. "Hillsdale College Opens New Academy for Science and Freedom", press release, Hillsdale College, 2021 December 10
  37. "Hillsdale College in D.C. Holds Event on the Ideological State of Universities", press release, Hillsdale College, via BusinessWire.com, 2022 October 27
  38. FIRE 2024 College Free Speech Rankings, archived on 2023 September 26
  39. "Why Hillsdale earns a ‘Warning’ rating from FIRE" by Laura Beltz, FIRE, 2023 October 24
  40. Academics, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  41. LinkedIn, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  42. Hillsdale Academy, Retrieved on August 5, 2023.
  43. News 5 Nashville, August 6, 2023.
  44. MLive, Retrieved on August 6, 2023.
  45. "The Hillsdale Solution for Harvard: Give up Federal Money and Run Admissions the Way You Want" by Mark J. Perry, American Enterprise Institute, 2018 October 16
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 "Sex, lies and suicide" by Jonathan Ellis, Salon, 2000 January 19
  47. 47.0 47.1 "Two students accuse Hillsdale College of retaliating against them after they reported sexual assaults" by Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 2023 November 12
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 "Christian Hillsdale College failed students who reported sexual violence, lawsuit alleges" by Chris Quintana, USA Today, 2023 October 25
  49. "The OTHER Hillsdale College", Free Will Baptist History
  50. 50.0 50.1 "DeSantis' new assault on public education: Breaking New College of Florida" by Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post, 2023 January 13
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 "Hillsdale Must Join the National Reckoning on Race" by Liz Essley Whyte, Bulwark, 2020 July 24
  52. "Nomination of Four Members of the National Council on Educational Research, and Designation of Chairman", American Presidency Project
  53. 53.0 53.1 "Horror at Hillsdale" by John J. Miller, National Review, 1999 November 12
  54. "Academic Freedom and Tenure: Hillsdale College", Reports and Publications, AAUP, 1988
  55. "Scandal Rocks a Conservative Campus" by Robyn Meredith, New York Times, 1999 November 5
  56. "Conservative Hillsdale College is helping DeSantis reshape Florida education" by Ana Ceballos and Sommer Brugal, Tampa Bay Times, 2022 July 5