American Council of Trustees and Alumni
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded in 1995, is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, nonprofit, educational organization committed to academic freedom, excellence and accountability at America's colleges and universities," its website states . ACTA was formerly known as the National Alumni Forum .
The following are listed as members of the National Council :
- Richard D. Lamm, Vice Chairman and Co-Founder; Director, Center for Public Policy and Contemporary Issues, University of Denver; Former Governor of Colorado (D)
- Jerry L. Martin, Chairman, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
- Jacques Barzun, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
- William J. Bennett, Director, Empower America; Former U.S. Secretary of Education
- Georgie Anne Geyer, Syndicated Columnist, Universal Press Syndicate
- Judith Richards Hope, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Former member of the Corporation, Harvard University
- Irving Kristol, Co-Editor, The Public Interest
- Hans Mark, Former Chancellor, University of Texas System; Former Secretary of the Air Force, 1979-1981
- Philip Merrill (1995-2002) Publisher, The Washingtonian
- Martin Peretz, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, The New Republic
- Laurence H. Silberman, US Circuit Judge, US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit
- William K. Tell, Jr., Retired Senior Vice President, Texaco, Inc.
- Curtin Winsor, Jr., William H. Donner Foundation; Former US Ambassador to Costa Rica
The organization is best described by Prof. Joel Beinin:
- The first post-September 11 expression of the link between the neo-conservative political agenda and the attack on critical thinking about the Middle East was a report issued by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in November 2001 entitled ‘Defending civilization: how our universities are failing America and what can be done about it’. As the title suggests, ACTA maintained that criticism of the Bush administration’s war on Afghanistan on campuses across the country was tantamount to negligence in ‘defending civilization’ and proof that ‘our universities are failing America’. ACTA alleged that American universities were brought to this sorry state by inadequate teaching of western culture and American history. Consequently, students and faculty did not understand what was at stake in the fight against terrorism and were undermining the defence of civilization by asking too many questions.
- ACTA was founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney. Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman is a member of its national council. Although she is no longer officially active in ACTA, a lengthy quote by Ms. Cheney appears on the cover of the report, giving the document the appearance of a quasi-official statement of government policy.
- The original version of ‘Defending civilization’ named and quoted comments by 117 university faculty members, staff and students in reaction to the September 11 attacks. ACTA’s ire was aroused by my statement that, ‘If Usama bin Laden is confirmed to be behind the attacks, the United States should bring him before an international tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity.’ Other remarks in the report’s list of unacceptable speech included ‘Ignorance breeds hate’ and ‘[T]here needs to be an understanding of why this kind of suicidal violence could be undertaken against our country’.
- — Joel Beinin, The New American McCarthyism: policing thought about the Middle East, Race & Class, Vol. 46(1): 101-115; (NB: loads very slow.)
What others say
"In 1995, Lynne Cheney and so-called liberal Senator Joseph Lieberman founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. According to Roberto Gonzalez of the San Jose Mercury News, the Council’s report “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America,” appears to protect academic freedom but actually resembles a blacklist. 'In a chilling use of doublespeak,' says Gonzalez, 'it affirms the right of professors to speak out, yet condemns those who have attempted to give context to Sept. 11, encourage critical thinking, or share knowledge about other cultures. Faculty are accused of being ‘short on patriotism’ for attempting to give students the analytical tools they need to become informed citizens.'
"'Many of those blacklisted are top scholars in their fields, and it appears that the report represents a kind of academic terrorism designed to strike fear into other academics by making examples of respected professors.'
"'The report might also function to extend control over sites of democratic debate – our universities – where freedom of expression is not only permitted but encouraged.'"— Carolyn Baker, Dissident Voice, February 7, 2005.
Comment: Prof. Beinin finds that these organizations work for the same aims, and some of the principals overlap in these organizations
1726 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-4525
Phone: 202 467-6787
Toll Free: 800 ALUMNI-8
FAX: 202 467-6784
Email: info AT goacta.org
Related SourceWatch Resources
- American Council of Trustees and Alumni in the Wikipedia.
- Profile: American Council of Trustees and Alumni and ACTA Recipient Grants (1997-2005), Media Transparency.
- "How Many Ward Churchills?" GOACTA.org, May 2006.
Articles by ACTA
- "Survey Reveals Pervasive Political Pressure in the Classroom," FrontPageMag.com, December 9, 2004.
- "Academia’s Failing Grade," FrontPageMag.com, December 14, 2005.
Articles & Commentary
- Annette Fuentes, "Conservative Appointees Hold Increasing Sway Over Public Higher Education. Trustees of the Right's Agenda," The Nation, October 5, 1998.
- Steven Menashi, Editorial: "I'm Going to Say It Now," The Dartmouth Review (The American Scene), September 18, 2000.
- Patrick Healy, "On Campus, Conservatives Denounce Dissent," Boston Globe (Common Dreams), November 13, 2001.
- "An Organization on the Lookout for Patriotic Incorrectness. Attack on academic anti-war (anti-civilization) talk" (Extracts from the ACTA web site) November 24, 2001.
- John Troyer, "Blacklist Me! Mrs. Cheney's Squad of Academic Snitches," CounterPunch, December 7, 2001.
- Roberto J. Gonzalez, "Lynne Cheney-Joe Lieberman Group Puts Out a Blacklist," San Jose Mercury News (Common Dreams), December 13, 2001.
- Editorial: "A 'defense' that civilization can do without," National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2001.
- Michelle Chihara, "The Silence on Terrorism," AlterNet, December 26, 2001: "Everyone professes to love free speech, just not in their backyard. While the debate rages over exactly when and where speech should be free, the bigger questions are going un-discussed."
- Bill Berkowitz, "Academic Bashing," Academic Watch (ZMag), February 2002.
- Jim Lobe, "US hawks unleash public opinion war," Inter Press Service (Asia Times), March 12, 2002.
- Amber Hussung, "Academic Freedom Under Fire," Organization of American Historians, May 2003.
- Carolyn Baker, "Ward Churchill And The Imminent Destruction of American Higher Education," Dissident Voice, February 7, 2005.
- Steven Selden, "Who’s Paying for the Culture Wars? Conservative critiques of higher education rely on liberal doses of cash," Academe, September 2005. Note: "Some data cited in this article also appear in "The Neo-Conservative Assault on the Undergraduate Curriculum" in Reclaiming Universities from a 'Runaway World'," published in 2004."
- Katherine Webster, "National group opposes changes in Dartmouth alumni group," Associated Press (Boston Globe), June 6, 2006.
- "Lynne Cheney’s Flying Monkeys on the Attack," The Gaelic Starover Blogspot, September 6, 2006.
- Eliana Johnson, "Dartmouth Changes Threaten Independent Trustees," New York Sun, October 20, 2006.