A Wolfe in Our Midst · 22 June 2007

By Kyle Bentle
Filed under: Press Coverage


Editor's Note: Although this article shows that Ball State faculty and administration have white-washed the travesty of Peace Studies at their school, Professor Wolfe's own comment at the end of this article, shows that the program is an ideological program of the political left, which violates the academic freedom guidelines of Ball State University. Questioning authority is a proper function of intellectual inquiry but not when only one kind of authority is questioned.

The Center for Peace and Conflict Studies is located in a small, white, non-descript house just south of the Ball State campus. It looks harmless. But according to some, this building employs one of the most dangerous professors in the country.

This man is Ball State professor George Wolfe, according to David Horowitz, author of the book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. Wolfe is a saxophone professor in the Ball State School of Music, as well as a former director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.

The controversy started in 2004 when student Brett Mock wrote a letter to FrontPageMagazine.com, of which Horowitz is the editor. Mock claimed that Wolfe’s Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class was focused around “indoctrination rather than education.”

Mock also claimed that Wolfe regularly rewarded students that shared his views with higher grades than others in the class. Shortly after the letter was published, Jo Ann Gora, Ball State University president, published a letter in the Muncie Star Press supporting Wolfe.

In his 2006 book, Horowitz repeats the same offenses described by Mock, as well as leveling new ones at Wolfe and the peace center. Horowitz accused Wolfe of lacking qualifications in social science or any field related to international studies.

“You can’t judge a faculty member on a degree they received 40 years ago,” Wolfe said in response, explaining that professors often change their areas of expertise after being in the field for a number of years.

Doris Kirkpatrick is a doctoral candidate who took over the Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution class after Wolfe left. She believes that Horowitz attacked the program because of a difference in ideology. Kirkpatrick does not believe that the program is liberal and says the Peace Studies advisory board members all have different viewpoints.

While university faculty members have supported Wolfe, not everyone is convinced that he is a victim. Ball State sophomore Kyle Ellis is the head of the Ball State chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, an organization whose mission is to “end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission.” Ellis wrote in an article published on FrontPageMagazine.com that Wolfe used his course as a “bully pulpit to promote his dogmatic conviction that non-violent measures are the only acceptable solutions to conflicts.” Ellis also wrote that Wolfe practices “second-rate anti-American propaganda.”

After The Professors was released, Wolfe did not try to hide the fact that he was labeled dangerous. In fact, being open gave him the opportunity to set the record straight. Wolfe says that his entry in The Professors is laden with errors, as are other entries in the book.

Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition of groups that advocates protecting the free exchange of speech and ideas on campuses, released a document showing multiple errors and false accusations in The Professor. According to Wolfe, the book became a model of intellectual dishonesty that got in the way of Horowitz’s argument.

Horowitz’s book has had a significant impact on the program but not in the way he had probably hoped. Since the release of The Professors, enrollment in classes the peace center offers has tripled.

“I have a lot to thank Mr. Horowitz for the interest it has generated,” Wolfe said. “ Not since Socrates has so much attention been paid to professors who challenge their students to think critically and to question authority.”

“I guess every college professor would like to be held up there on the same level as Socrates. So, in that sense, as long as I don’t have to drink the hemlock, I’m happy.”

Related articles:

Indoctrination in the Classroom, by Brett Mock

Freshman Indoctrination at Ball State by Brett Mock

Saxophone Professor Sounds Off by Kyle Ellis

Indoctrination or Education by SAF