Quantifying Liberal Bias at the University of Oregon

By Vincent Artman and CJ Ciaramella
Editors, Oregon Commentator
“An independent journal of opinion” at the University of Oregon

According to the Huffington Post’s nifty little campaign donation tracker, people who identified themselves as employees of the University of Oregon have so far donated $24,962 to political campaigns in the ’08 election cycle. It doesn’t look like the first quarter reports have been added yet, so the real number is most likely much higher by now. How does it break down?

Of that $24,962, only two contributions went to Republicans, totaling $956. Actually, we should say Republican, because both of those went to Ron Paul. The majority of the Democrat donations went to Obama, with only one to Hillary Clinton.

Hardly surprising. Interesting, though, that we have been told repeatedly that monocultures are unstable and unhealthy and that being exposed to a diverse range of cultures and ideas is key to a well-rounded education. And yet here we are, with the very institutions who have been among the loudest promoting the “diversity” agenda nationwide failing to live up to their own loudly proclaimed ideals.

If education is the function of the University (a cynic might wonder if business interests haven’t supplanted that function to some extent), and diversity is held to be an important “” if not crucial “” element of a proper education, then isn’t a disservice being done to students when the educators themselves, by a ratio of nearly 5:1, come in one form or another from one end of the political spectrum?


Dr. Matt Manweller will offer his insider’s take on why university faculties are overwhelmingly liberal this Wednesday at the Portland Airport Shilo Inn, 6-8 p.m. Free admission; dinner $20.

Click here for details. All are welcome!


Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s free market think tank.

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  • eagle eye

    I wonder, what do the good editors suggest that the University of Oregon do? There were apparently even fewer donations (1) to Hillary than to the Republican (2), according to the data presented.

    Should they fire Obama supporters until there is political balance? There won’t be enough faculty left to teach the courses.

    Or should they have quotas for Hillarycrats and Republicans until some balance has been restored against the Obamacrats?

    There’s something else kind of odd about this post. They say
    “If education is the function of the University (a cynic might wonder if business interests haven’t supplanted that function to some extent)”.

    What might they be getting at? That “business interests” are in cahoots with the Obamaprofs to keep out Republicans and Hillarycrats?

    Sounds kind of farfetched to me.

  • John Fairplay

    I’m not sure there’s a need for the U of O to “do” anything. In the interest of full disclosure, they might consider publicizing this bias in their recruitment literature so that potential students will arrive at the University with their eagle eyes open.

    • eagle eye

      What exactly do you mean by “bias”? And what would you mean by “publicizing this bias”?

  • USA999

    The usual lousy methodology by people with an ax to grind rather than a meaningful analysis. All this really tells us is people at the University of Oregon who give money tend to give it to Democrats in this presidential election cycle rather than Republicans. It says nothing about the percentage of the faculty who bring liberal vs. conservative views into the classroom.

    It may tell us liberals are excited by one of the Democratic candidates while Republicans are totally depressed by their probable candidate. It may tell us liberals have a more developed sense of civic commitment than do Republicans. And it may tell us Republican donors are embarrassed by working for the University of Oregon and lie when they donate…..who checks?

    The point is the donor record does not tell us what the authors claim it tells us. I do not think they are lying, just enthusiastic but inept. If they go to the business school at the U of O they will find the usual array of conservative faculty which concentrate in such places. Instead of donating in favor of a weak candidate they probably, as good conservative faculty in a state university which pays comparatively low wages, put their funds in buying food, gas, and other necessities. If the authors REALLY want to honor their candidate they will not worry about sending checks but lead a cadre of like-minded individuals to their local military recruiting station to back their candidate with their butts, not their bucks.

    And, for the record, I am an Oregon Republican of long standing but in no way willing to back a Republican candidate who sells out American principles and the Constitution.

    • damnintellectuals

      Great comments, USA999

    • Anonymous

      “I am an Oregon Republican of long standing”

      Sure you are. And I’m Al Gore.

  • dean

    First…UO is obviously not a political “monoculture” or there would have been no money at all to Ron Paul, and no Dave Fronmeyer (sp?) as President.

    Second, “diversity”can be measured in a lot of ways. Height, weight, skin color, etc. Measuring faculty by their political leanings may be of academic interest, but what is the relevance in the classroom? Outside of ploitical science, economics, and maybe sociology most subjects are not really influenced by whether a professor happens to be a liberal or a conservative.

    Third, if I were a conservative Republican (perish the thought,) I would at times ask myself why is it that the most educated, presumably most read people in the state and nation are “on the other side” so to speak. Could it be because my party has positioned itself squarely against science (evolution,global warming, stem cell research,) and against the “liberal elite snobs” who think they know more than we real people?

    Lastly…statistically even the business faculty is probably more self-identified as liberal than conservative.

  • Chris McMullen

    Our resident Marxists troll’s opinions aside, liberals don’t embrace diversity of opinion or race. They’re tolerant of only those who subscribe to their own, twisted groupthink. If you don’t hate Bush, don’t believe in gay marriage, are not an abortion advocate and believe in personal responsibility, you’re automatically labeled (ironically) a fascist.

    And I’d wager there’s more racially diverse conservatives groups than liberal ones. Just look to our current administration as an example.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >I would at times ask myself why is it that the most educated, presumably most read people in the state and nation are “on the other side” so to speak.

    And if you had any sense you would come to the logical conclusion that maybe your assessment of who is most educated, or most read might be wrong. For if it were true, and if you were so smart, and so knowledgeable about all things scientific, logical and true, then you would be rich, or at least wealthy.

    But, then if you were rich and wealthy, you would look around and see a bunch of Republicans. And then your head would explode because then you would have to think.

    And then, Oh my God, you would realize what many of us realized a long time ago, AGW is essentially a religion lead by a divinity school drop out.

    And then you would realize again, Oh My God, getting all crazy about fetal stem cell research funded by federal dollars as an issue, borders on fanaticism because, Oh My God again, I can do all the fetal stem cell research I want, so long as I don’t use federal dollars and then wait a second, I think I just argued in another thread that government research dollars really don’t amount to a whole hill of beans academically so now I have really logically screwed myself because now I am arguing that government dollars for research is a big deal.

    And then, you would realize, Oh my God, why am I so crazy about anyone who questions evolution. I mean isn’t my party the one of diversity? Isn’t my party the one that preaches tolerance, and that all cultures are equal. And, hey, wait, didn’t Darwin himself question evolution? And hey, wait, why am I so threatened by any question of evolution, I mean to the extent that I have to insist evolution is a fact, not a theory?

    And then you would realize, hey wait, I’m a liberal, I have to live with convoluted thought, I have to live with keeping two mutually exclusive thoughts, such as racism bad, affirmative action and diversity programs based on race, good. in my head at the same time, and rationalizing them.

    And then you would realize, hey, wait, maybe I shouldn’t think too much. I’m a liberal. If I try to think about things logically, my head would explode right off my shoulders, I act on emotions, good intentions, not results.

    And then you would realize, hey, wait, now I’m happy……..happy thoughts…..good intentions…. not logic……ahhhhh…peace….bliss….for I am a liberal…and all this is about me, my intentions….my well being…..my spending others money for my indulgence……and no one else’s.

    • Jerry

      Well said! Remember, intentions are always more important to libs than results.
      Always.

      • dean

        Chris…your “resident Marxist,” a liberal in good standing responds:
        1) I don’t “hate” Bush. I think he has been a lousy President that has dug several deep holes for our nation (war, debt, energy, international relations, & environment).
        2) I don’t “believe in” gay marriage, but as a divorced person I have no objection to gay couples getting married. They should share the pain.
        3) I’m not “an abortion advocate,” but believe women should have the right to control their own pregnancies up to a reasonable point (see Roe vs. Wade for reasonable point).
        4) I believe people should be responsible for their actions, but I also believe we are in this ship of state (and world) together, so we all have some responsibilities towards one another.

        How much would you like to wager on your proposition that “conservative groups” are more racially diverse than “liberal ones?” No cherry picking allowed.

        Rupert….education and well readness do not necessarily equate to wealth. Paris Hilton is quite wealthy, and Albert Einstein was a middle class, absent minded professor. Sometimes people just value diferent things and are satisfied with less wealth in the pursuit of others life offerings (art, music, poetry, big bang theory). Like they say, money is time, and for some of us, when we have enough money to gain the time to pursue what is of interest, then away we go.

        As for the rest of your rant….well you managed to reinforce what I said. Thanks for that.

        Jerry…to this lib (or Marxist if Chris prefers) both intentions and results matter. Results matter more, but we on the left may focus on different measures (poverty rates, imprisonment rates, civil rights, environmental quality, etc.) than what you on the right focus on (I’ll let you make your own list).

        We are yin and yang (left and right). Can’t have one without the other.

      • Chris McMullen

        The resident Marxists believes we have a responsibility to one another, just as long as big gummint forces it on us at the point of a gun and it’s not his money, time or effort involved.

        What a tool.

        • dean

          Chris…look on the bright side ( I know its hard). Experiments show that altruism, even if it is imposed, results in greater happiness than does selfishness. Of course these results should not surprise us. Think Ebennezer Scrooge. He was more or less forced to become generous by the threat of a miserable life after death, and he ended up joyfull once he sprang for the goose.

          And I see you did not take me up on the bet. Don’t you ever get tired of bluffing?

  • CJ Ciaramella

    Hey, I’m one of the authors of this post. Thought I should mention a few things: The headline is a little misleading I guess. Obviously, the donor list is non-representational of the faculty and staff as a whole. This wasn’t meant to be a rigorous or substantive study; I just thought the numbers were interesting and raised some good questions.

    Second, I don’t really have “an axe to grind.” In my time at the U of O I’ve never encountered any blatant political bias or discrimination from professors. Yes, most of them have been left of center (and their presentations appropriately tinged so), but they at least conduct themselves professionally.

    The other author and I simply find it ironic that an institution that has been harping so steadily on diversity for the past decade or more tends to be dominated by one end of the political spectrum. It’s not much of a problem for students with any modicum of critical thinking skills (although that leaves the other 90 percent).

    • eagle eye

      OK, so there’s an “irony”, but what, if anything, would you propose that UO do? Suppose the physics department is 10-1 Democrats (this could be checked and it may well be). What does this mean, does it matter, and what should be done about it?

      Also, I would be curious to know what you mean when you say about the professors there:

      “most of them have been left of center (and their presentations appropriately tinged so”

  • Jerry

    The real point is does anyone really care about bias in Oregon’s universities? They are second rate institutions with little or no relevance in today’s higher ed scene.

    • eagle eye

      A really sour, nihilistic attitude you have.

      Second rate or not, the vast majority of Oregon students who attend college attend public institutions, the vast majority of degrees in Oregon are awarded by the public universities. Second rate or not, the faculty manage some pretty impressive research accomplishments. The students who graduate manage to go on to successful careers or graduate programs. Without OHSU, I wonder what the availability of physicians in Oregon would look like.

      I wonder, what are your accomplishments in comparison?

      Or are you saying that Oregon is a mediocre state in which mediocre higher education institutions fit right in?

      If so, how do you fit in?

    • UO science student

      I really don’t care for your comment. I will be graduating this spring from U of O and going on to a science Ph.D. at Berkeley. (I also got accepted into Stanford, Caltech, Harvard, and MIT). You may think Oregon public colleges are second rate with little influence. For me, UO at least has been anything but second rate. It has had a huge influence on me and the other students in my graduating class in my subject. You may call it second rate, but given the meager support that comes from the state, I think they do amazingly well. UO may not be Harvard but it is not nothing, and in some ways it may even offer a better education, even to top students like myself. I certainly will always be grateful for what I got there and I hope that I will even be good enough in my field to get hired at a place like UO. (Sure, I’d like to get hired at a place like MIT but that is something that can happen to very few people).

      I would like to see you interview for a faculty position at UO (or even OSU!), I have seen the interview process, the parts that are open to the public. You might get a different idea about what is second rate and also maybe even how you stack up in comparison.

    • Ian

      Cite some reputable sources!

      Has anyone considered the perceived impact that each candidate may have on higher education in Oregon and the Nation? The disbursement of donations may just reflect the perception that Obama would do more good for the University. Why would faculty and staff endorse a candidate that could possibly make college more expensive and less attainable?

      • Jerry

        OK – you asked for sources for my second rate opinion. Maybe I was wrong. Third rate would be more apt.
        Here are the four year graduation rates for the universities. That should be a pretty fair measure of success, shouldn’t it? Isn’t the whole point of higher ed to graduate and get a degree? I thought so.

        U of O – 38
        OSU – 30.6
        Southern Oregon – 18
        Eastern Oregon

        • Jerry

          Eastern Oregon 13
          Portland State 13

        • eagle eye

          “Isn’t the whole point of higher ed to graduate and get a degree?”

          I had thought the point was to get an education.

          If someone goes to a 4 year college for two years and then decides a degree isn’t for them, is that necessarily a waste? Does that represent any less enhancement of human capital than completing two years at a community college?

          Sure, a place like UO could admit only the top quarter of its current student body, and graduation rates would soar. Is that what people want in a public university?

          Instead it admits students of a wide range of capabilities and backgrounds, and offers them some facsimile of what they would get at a place like Stanford or Berkeley — I’m impressed by “UO science student’s” story, those “first-rate” places must think there is something impressive coming out of UO — and not surprisingly, a large percentage fall by the wayside.

          By the way, the 6 year graduation rates are a lot higher, closer to 60% at UO — one reason it takes a lot of students longer is that they have to work their way through school, largely because of the low level of state support and the low availability of financial aid, the latter because there has been so little private support of the public colleges in Oregon.

        • retiredUOscienceprof

          Yes, you were wrong and now you are right. Your opinion is third rate.

          With guys like you blogging for Oregon Catalyst, it’s no wonder the students are all turning to a guy like Obama.

  • Jared Prophet

    You seem surprised that people, (especially people who are intelligent), are donating money to the Democrats.

    First I will repeat a post on a different thread:

    Liberal = Intelligent – So it follows that Teachers would be liberal.

    Conservative = Moron – So it follows cousin-marrying backwoods hicks vote Republican.

    Second, we are (not quickly enough) coming to the end of the worst presidency in the history of our ailing nation. We keep killing and wounding (physically and mentally) our young people in Iraq to protect Oil profits and to make war profiteers richer. There are falling bridges and the New Orleans is still in shambles. Our war in Iraq has caused gas to $4 a gallon and is starving people in this country and all over the world. Air and water quality has hit new lows. You can’t find fish with out mercury in them. Republicans sound like the Klan when they talk about Gays and Latinos. The administration has used torture and defends their use of torture. They put a hit out on Valerie Plame to silence her husband. They lie about everything. Jobs moved to China. IBM moved to China. Economic supremacy has moved to China. Haliburton (with their No Bid Contracts) moved to Dubai.

    The question isn’t why are intelligent people donating money to Democrats, the question is: Why the hell would people donate money to Republicans to further continue the downward spiral of the economy and their personal lives.

    • Anonymous

      You forgot to take your medication again.

    • Jerry

      I thought Carter got the worst president award.
      And high gas prices are not starving anyone. It is the ethanol mandates by uneducated people that are responsible for the food shortages.

  • Kevin

    Some of the responses here are totally irresponsible. Also, there is no evidence of a bias in teaching because there is a bias in political donations. Let us also not forget that this database does not account for small donations, which very well may have been made by dozens of professors.

    As a student at UO and a Democrat, I have a better perspective on this issue that elitist Nut-Jobs like Jerry. I constantly run into teachers who have views that I would label as socialist or communist. I find these influences irritating, but the professors are not irresponsible in the manner in which these biases shine through. Every class I’ve had with the potential for such a situation has been given a brief speech on how all teachers will have biases, and as such it is important to think critically about the information.

    If the leftist tendencies of higher education are so troubling to the righties, then find qualified professors who wish to live and work in Eugene, and ask them to apply for jobs. My guess is there is not a stockpile of unemployed republican ethnic studies or political science professors. If there is, then we have a conspiracy. If not, then we have a bunch of righties complaining about a non-existent issue.

    • Jerry

      My point exactly! Who on the right would want these jobs? No one. Well said.

      • retiredUOscienceprof

        Yes, Jerry, the rightwing social science types go off to the conservative think tank ghetto, places like Hoover or Heritage.

        And the lefties get “stuck” with teaching and influencing the students.

        That is why they are winning and you are losing!

        • Jerry

          I did not know we were in a contest, but, as you say, I am losing.

          So to win, according to you and just to make this clear, I have to get a dead-end job in a third rate university with low pay, spew liberal gibberish to my “students” who would not be in the classroom if it wasn’t a required class, donate to left-wing causes and candidates, and then retire on my PERS and rant on blogs.

          I prefer losing. Thanks, though, for setting me straight.

          • retiredUOscienceprof

            whooh! I guess you have the rant part down, and the third-rate. I am glad you will never be anywhere near a college classroom.

          • UO science student

            Amazing! I am glad they don’t let people like you near students!

  • Eli

    As a graduate of UO from the department of Sociology, and a pretty liberal guy (I worked as a union organizer for several years after I graduated in 03) I would have to support the liberal ‘bias’ at the University. Although I generally agreed with the political viewpoint of my profs, I found it irritating and limiting to constantly be presented with the same views.
    I thought college was supposed to open our eyes to the opinions of the world, and instead I got only the opinions of the far left. Although I may be fairly far left, how am I or others supposed to understand, debate, or counter those on the right if we never see their reasoning or thought process.
    In response to those saying that most educated people are liberal, I would have to debate that. Many or most business people are at least economically conservative, and many or most business people are very intelligent. They also influence the world/politics more than the typical intelligent liberal working in non-profits, universities etc. Without perspective on their opinion and methods liberals have no chance of debating, countering, or influencing ‘the other side’.

  • willy39

    Liberal professors are what is wrong with the country today. Instead of educated professionals, all that is coming out of the colleges and universities is a bunch of brainwashed idiots . And, if you doubt that, take a look at where all the doctors, scientists and engineers are coming from. A recent study showed the the US schools were producing less than 10,000 engineers a year and India was producing over 200,000. Our schools are too busy pushing the global warming hoax and promoting communism. That is why their donations go to “comrade” obama.

    • eagle eye

      willy, you are wildly off on the number of American engineers by a factor of over 10. There was a story on this in the Wall St. Journal, how erroneous numbers are being used about American, Chinese, and Indian engineers graduating. American universities are also graduating plenty of scientists and physicians.

      India and China are clearly going to be technological powerhouses, and the American lead is clearly in jeopardy from them (and other areas like Europe of course). But exaggerated claims are not a good idea.

  • pk2

    Choice. Oregon is a Democrat state by choice and population. Therefore the University is reflecting the population. On Republicans. The Republicans often offer no candidates for the state’s biggest races like Attorney General or to challenge Ron Wyden. So there is less to give to. Choice follows choices.

  • Vanno

    Having graduated from UO, I can say my experience was that most classes were taught b annoyingly Liberal instructors. For example, I had an Intermediate Macro Economics instructor that literally said the Chicago School of Economic thinking was full of crazies, quite a normative statement for a subject that is supposed to be objective.

    Oh well, money well wasted.

  • Lauren Highfill

    I’m a student at OSU and there
    is no space for diversity, God forbid you identify as a conservative, they’ll
    burn you at the stake, how ironic.