CU Forum

The Infrastructure of Political Polarization
on Campus

"I want to say about the Steamboat Institute: what a breath of fresh air
in the state of Colorado! She is countering all the leftie groups
down south of here. . . .

I'm very proud that as Jennifer says we're working in collaboration
between us; the only thing wrong is we're not doing enough. . . .
Let's get together and do more. . . ."

-- Bruce Benson, CU President
Acceptance speech for Steamboat Institute
Courage in Education award

August 27, 2016

A recent event on the CU Boulder campus highlights a network of interconnected
organizations and individuals advocating a politically partisan point of
view now actively operating at, and in partnership with, the University of Colorado.

The Event          The Organizations          A Closer Look

The Conservative Patriotic Movement

The University of Colorado - Steamboat Institute Partnership

The Event

The event at Boulder was billed as a "debate and discussion" between Nigel Farage and Vicente Fox on the topic of "Nationalism vs. Globalism." Nigel Farage was billed as "Architect of Brexit" and Vicente Fox was billed "President of Mexico (2000-06)." The event took place at Mackey Auditorium on the Boulder campus on April 2, 2018.

The event was co-sponsored by three organizations, "The Steamboat Institute, in partnership with the University of Colorado's Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy and the CU Free to Be Student Debate Cub." [tour poster]

This event was one stop on what was described as "The Steamboat Institute Campus Liberty Tour."

The tour poster described the purpose of the tour:

"It is our mission to provide students - and all who attend - with the opportunity to learn about critical issues through reasoned and respectful debate. We believe this is the most effective way to reach students with diverse ideologies and to help them learn how to think - not what to think." [tour poster]

There were four stops on the tour, each moderated by a person with a politically conservative viewpoint.

The first stop on the tour was the Boulder event, and the moderator was Robert Kauffmann, the current Visiting Conservative Scholar on campus.

Subsequent stops on the tour were at CU Colorado Springs, moderated by Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner; and University of Maryland, College Park, and Lafayette College in Pensylvania, both moderated by Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

The event was initiated by CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, in conjunction with the formation of the Free to Be Coalition.

Regent Ganahl formed the Free to Be Coalition with cofounders Nilam Desai, a Boulder resident, and Marcus Fotenos, a CU student.

The group was able to recruit Mr. Farage and Mr. Fox to participate, secure initial funding, and then brought in the Steamboat Institute as an additional sponsor and partner on the event.

CU President Benson was among those providing personal financial support for the event.

Regent Ganahl is a former board member of the Steamboat Institute.

A video of the third event of the series, April 5, 2018, at University of Maryland, College Park, is here.

President Benson spoke favorably of the tour three days later in his report to the Regents at their regular meeting on April 5, 2018:

"Benson noted he received encouraging comments about the welcoming and respect for diverse viewpoints during the recent Nigel Farage/Vincente Fox debates at CU Boulder and UCCS."

Minutes of the Regular Board of Regents Meeting, April 5-6, 2018.

Subsequent to the tour, Nigel Farage, one of the tour participants and a Fox News commentator, also spoke favorably of the tour on the Fox & Friends television show.

Left: Nigel Farage at right;    Right: Boulder debate, Nigel Farage at left.

Nigel Farage on Fox & Friends Highlights Steamboat Institute Debate Series
with Vicente Fox
(at 2:10)

The Conservative Patriotic Movement

"Putin's message resonates in a Western Europe where disenchantment with liberalism, and the immigration it permits, is rising. It even resonates in the United States. Not so long ago, Patrick Buchanan called Putin the voice of "conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists of all continents and countries" who were standing up against "the cultural and ideological imperialism of . . . a decadent West." And Buchananism is not the outlier it once was in American politics; in many ways it was Trumpism before Trump. These days, if the polls are to be believed, favorable views of Russia's "strong leader" have grown, at least among Trump supporters. Putin has positioned himself as the leader of the world's "socially and culturally conservative" common folk against "international liberal democracy. . . ."

The Jungle Grows Back
America and Our Imperiled World

by Robert Kagan
2018, p. 150

"We reject the ideology of globalism and
accept the doctrine of patriotism."

Donald J. Trump
September 25, 2018

Trump's speech to the UN General Assembly

Nigel Farage


Nigel Farage, a leader of the Brexit movement in the UK, speaking on the
Conservative Patriotic Movement at the Conservative Political
Action Conference ("CPAC") 2017 (left) and at CPAC 2018 (right).

"What happened in 2016 [passage of Brexit, election of Trump]
was the beginning of a great global revolution."

"Our real friends in the world speak English, have common law,
and stand by us in times of crisis."

"We must not underestimate just how powerful our enemies are."

CPAC 2017   CPAC 2018

Nigel Farage Speaks at Rally for Candidate Trump
in Jackson, Mississippi, August 24, 2016:

"What the Brexit campaign did is we reached those people who'd been let down by modern global corporatism. . . . . We reached those people who believed they could take back control of their country, take back control of their borders, and get back their pride and self-respect. . . . . Remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment."

Trump rally, August 24, 2016

"I was very happy to support in any way I could Donald Trump's
campaign back in '16 . . . . it was the best decision I've ever made in my life"

CPAC 2018

Above: Brexit supporters visit President-elect Trump at Trump Tower, November 12, 2016: from left: Gerry Gunster, U.S. pollster who helped Leave.EU campaign; Aaron Banks, largest funder of Brexit movement; Donald Trump, U.S. President-elect; Nigel Farage; Andy Wigmore, Communications director of Leave.EU; Raheem Kassam, former Breitbart London Editor in Chief. Below: President-elect Trump and Nigel Farage.

"As the Prime Minister's Article 50 letter [officially triggering the Brexit process] made its way to Brussels, Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage paid "a personal tribute and thank you" to former Breitbart boss Stephen K. Bannon for the role he played in securing victory for the Leave campaign in the European Union (EU) referendum."

"Well Done Bannon; Well Done Breitbart -
You've Helped with This Hugely"

Breitbart London, March 29, 2017

Stephen Bannon evangelizes Trump-style nationalist politics
across Europe with new Brussels-based group

Washington Post, September 26, 2018

"Sitting in a top-floor suite of his five-star hotel looking out on an ancient church dome [in Rome], the self-proclaimed populist hit his talking points: The global elite is brutalizing the little guy, European nations need to take back decision-making from an overbearing European Union government, and he and his new Brussels-based group, The Movement, are ready to provide polling, data analysis and messaging to help nationalist parties across Europe."

Nigel Farage is 'person of interest' in FBI investigation into Trump and Russia

The Guardian, June 1, 2017

"Nigel Farage is a "person of interest" in the US counter-intelligence investigation that is looking into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump's presidential campaign, the Guardian has been told. Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March.
   .   .   .
Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or a target of the US investigation. But being a person of interest means investigators believe he may have information about the acts that are under investigation and he may therefore be subject to their scrutiny."

Top Brexit Backer Passed Trump Transition Team Info to Russians

New York Magazine, June 10, 2018

"Concerns about Russia's election meddling - in the U.K. - reached new heights on Saturday after leaked emails revealed extensive links between one of the top backers of a pro-Brexit campaign and Russian officials. The Observer and Sunday Times of London obtained the some 40,000 emails sent by millionaire businessman Arron Banks, the chief financial backer of U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage's Leave.EU campaign, and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU's director of communications.

The emails show show that Banks had previously undisclosed meetings with Russia's U.K. ambassador (which were set up by an alleged Russian spy), and had made a previously undisclosed visit to Moscow at the peak of the Brexit campaign. Banks and Wigmore were also offered, at one point, a business deal involving several Russian goldmines that could have been worth a fortune for the men, according to the documents. There is a Trump connection, as the Sunday Times reports that Banks admitted that, months after the Brexit referendum, "he handed over phone numbers for members of Trump's transition team to Russian officials" - though it's not yet clear whose info he handed over, or what became of it."

How the 'Bad Boys of Brexit' forged ties with Russia and the Trump campaign
- and came under investigators' scrutiny

The Washington Post, June 28, 2018

"On Aug. 19, 2016, Arron Banks, a wealthy British businessman, sat down at the palatial residence of the Russian ambassador to London for a lunch of wild halibut and Belevskaya pastila apple sweets accompanied by Russian white wine.

Banks had just scored a huge win. From relative obscurity, he had become the largest political donor in British history by pouring millions into Brexit, the campaign to disentangle the United Kingdom from the European Union that had earned a jaw-dropping victory at the polls two months earlier.

Now he had something else that bolstered his standing as he sat down with his new Russian friend, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko: his team's deepening ties to Donald Trump's insurgent presidential bid in the United States. A major Brexit supporter, Stephen K. Bannon, had just been installed as chief executive of Trump's campaign. And Banks and his fellow Brexiteers had been invited to attend a fundraiser with Trump in Mississippi.

Less than a week after the meeting with the Russian envoy, Banks and firebrand Brexit politician Nigel Farage - by then a cult hero among some anti-establishment Trump supporters - were huddling privately with the Republican nominee in Jackson, Miss., where Farage wowed a foot-stomping crowd at a Trump rally."

Russians Offered Business Deals to Brexit's Biggest Backer

The New York Times, June 29, 2018

"Arron Banks, a British financier who bankrolled the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, has long bragged about his "boozy six-hour lunch" with the Russian ambassador eight months before the vote.

Some also wondered about Mr. Banks's Russian-born wife and their custom license plate, X MI5 SPY, after the British intelligence agency, MI5. But Mr. Banks always laughed off questions about his ties to the Kremlin.

Now, a leaked record of some of Mr. Banks's emails suggest that he and his closest adviser had a more engaged relationship with Russian diplomats than he has disclosed.

While Mr. Banks was spending more than eight million British pounds to promote a break with the European Union - an outcome the Russians eagerly hoped for - his contacts at the Russian Embassy in London were opening the door to at least three potentially lucrative investment opportunities in Russian-owned gold or diamond mines.

One of Mr. Banks's business partners, and a fellow backer of Britain's exit from the European Union, or Brexit, took the Russians up on at least one of the deals."

Donald Trump told Theresa May how to do Brexit 'but she wrecked it'

The Sun, July 13, 2018
(including audio recording)

"In an extraordinary intervention timed to coincide with his UK visit, Mr Trump said Theresa May ignored his advice by opting for a soft Brexit strategy.

And he warned her any attempts to maintain close ties with the EU would make a lucrative US trade deal very unlikely.

Mr Trump said: "If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal." "


British newspapers headline Trump's interview

Theresa May should have taken my father's advice on Brexit

Donald Trump Jnr.
Executive vice president at the Trump Organization
March 19, 2019

The Telegraph [UK]

"Next Friday, March 29, is supposed to be the British people's Independence Day. But because the elites control London from Brussels, the will of the people is likely to be ignored. . . .

With the deadline fast approaching, it appears that democracy in the UK is all but dead.

Why is this important for us Americans? Because Brexit is an example of how the establishment elites try to subvert the will of the people when they're given the chance.

Here in the United States, we've seen similar efforts to overturn legitimate election results. When my father beat the Washington establishment in a historic outcome in 2016, just a few months after the Brexit vote, we mistakenly presumed there would be a peaceful and respectful transition of power from the Democrats to the Republicans, just as there has always been in this country.

Instead, the Democrats and deep-state operatives in our justice system have been colluding to subvert the will of the American people, with high-level officials even discussing a scheme to try to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment of our constitution.

In a way, you could say that Brexit and my father's election are one and the same - the people of both the UK and the US voted to uproot the establishment for the sake of individual freedom and independence, only to see the establishment try to silence their voices and overturn their mandates.

What we're seeing now in Washington, London and Brussels is the desperate, last-gasp attempt by those previously in power to cling on to what was once theirs in the face of an overwhelming mandate for change.

Those who support my father's "America First" agenda should rest assured: the battle for independence isn't over; it has only just begun. The elites will not surrender their power lightly, and we shouldn't expect them to. But we need to keep fighting to reclaim it for the people."

U.S. - Russia Summit

Helsinki, Finland
July 16, 2018

At the summit, a joint press conference between President Trump and President Putin followed a private meeting (which followed by days a NATO Summit meeting) in which a psychologically fragile and naive U.S. President was debriefed in private for 2 hours by a trained and experienced KGB agent. Officials at the most senior levels of the U.S. government have little to no information about what was discussed at the private meeting.

President Trump and President Putin at the joint press conference

Trump - Putin Press Conference Excerpts

[Question for President Trump:] before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?

Well, actually I called him a competitor. And a good competitor he is. And I think the word "competitor" is a compliment.

Mr. President [Trump], you tweeted this morning that it's U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you - what would you consider them - that they are responsible for?

I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should've had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame.
. . . .
But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the - the probe
[Special Counsel Mueller's Investigation] is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. And people are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they're going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And, frankly, we beat her - and I'm not even saying from the standpoint - we won that race. And it's a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that, people understand it. But the main thing - and we discussed this also - zero collusion. And it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous what's going on with the probe.

[Question for President Putin:] Why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided?

[Response from President Trump after President Putin:] But, as you know, the whole concept of that came up perhaps a little bit before, but it came out as a reason why the Democrats lost an election which, frankly, they should have been able to win, because the Electoral College is much more advantageous for Democrats, as you know, than it is to Republicans. We won the Electoral College by a lot: 306 to 223, I believe. And that was a well-fought - that was a well-fought battle. We did a great job. And, frankly - I'm going to let the president speak to the second part of your question - but just to say it one time again - and I say it all the time - there was no collusion. I didn't know the president. There was nobody to collude with. There was no collusion with the campaign. And every time you hear all of these, you know, 12 and 14 - it's stuff that has nothing to do - and, frankly, they admit these are not people involved in the campaign. But to the average reader out there, they're saying, "Well, maybe that does." It doesn't. And even the people involved, some, perhaps, told mis-stories. Or, in one case, the F.B.I. said there was no lying. There was no lying. Somebody else said there was. We ran a brilliant campaign, and that's why I'm president. Thank you.

[Question for President Trump:] Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What - who - my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the F.B.I. never took the server - haven't they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I've been wondering that, I've been asking that for months and months and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have - I have confidence in both parties. I - I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the D.N.C.? Where are those servers? They're missing; where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone - just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn't be gone so easily. I think it's a disgrace that we can't get Hillary Clinton's 33,000 e-mails.
. . . .
So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. O.K.? Thank you.

[Question for President Putin:] Does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?

[Response from President Trump after President Putin:] It would have been out long ago. And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days - and I was in Brussels watching it - it was a disgrace to the F.B.I., it was a disgrace to our country, and you would say that was a total witch hunt. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

Joint News Conference by Trump and Putin: Full Video and Transcript

Glee in Russia Over Trump's Foreign Policy Largess

Dec. 21, 2018

"A note of glee crept into Russian commentary and news coverage on Friday about the current turmoil in Washington around national security, with President Vladimir V. Putin seemingly checking off one item after another that he might have written on his wish list for Santa.

First, President Trump blindsided his aides and the rest of the world by deciding to pull the full contingent of some 2,000 American troops out of Syria, helping the Kremlin to confirm Mr. Putin's gamble that intervening in Syria would revive Russian influence in the Middle East.

Mr. Trump followed that up by declaring that the United States would pull half its forces out of Afghanistan; the combined withdrawals prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis, the respected general who leads the Pentagon. All that followed Mr. Trump's already substantial effort to undermine NATO and the European Union by weakening the American commitment to its traditional alliances.

"Trump is God's gift that keeps on giving,"" said Vladimir Frolov, a Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst. "Trump implements Russia's negative agenda by default, undermining the U.S.-led world order, U.S. alliances, U.S. credibility as a partner and an ally. All of this on his own. Russia can just relax and watch and root for Trump, which Putin does at every TV appearance." "

New York Times: Glee in Russia Over Trump's Foreign Policy Largess

Paul Manafort shared 2016 polling data with Russian associate

January 8, 2019

"Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing.

The information is in a filing that appears to inadvertently include details not intended to be made public and indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data."

Washington Post: Paul Manafort shared 2016 polling data with Russian associate, according to court filing

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters
with Putin from senior officials in administration

January 13, 2019

"President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said. . . .

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States' main adversaries."

Washington Post: Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

The Organizations

Some of the organizations involved in the extended network include the Leadership Program of the Rockies, the Steamboat Institute, Turning Point USA, the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy, and the Free to Be Coalition.

The CU event was one in a large number of ongoing activities and events pursued by these organizations, this one specifically focused on CU students.

These organizations share a number of features in common.


Many of these organizations share a pool of stated principles for which they are advocating.

Leadership Program of the Rockies:

Individual property rights
Personal responsibility
Free markets
Limited government
Low taxes
Strong national defense

Leadership Program of the Rockies

Steamboat Institute:

Limited government
Limited taxes and fiscal responsibility
Free market capitalism
Strong national defense
Individual rights and responsibilities

Steamboat Institute

Turning Point USA:

Free markets
Limited government

Turning Point USA


Many of these organizations share similar goals, described as variously to identify, educate, train, empower and organize students and others to advocate for politically conservative viewpoints in matters of public policy.

"The Leadership Program of the Rockies is America's premier institute to develop, strengthen, train and equip emerging leaders to reach new heights in public policy and the political process."
Leadership Program of the Rockies

"We are here to help provide tools, information, and inspiration to those who hold the Founding Principles of the nation dear."
Steamboat Institute

"The organization's mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government."
Turning Point USA

How They Do It

Throughout the year, these organizations provide an ongoing series of conferences, speaker series, training sessions, social events, retreats and awards.

Leadership Program of the Rockies

Leadership Program
Champion of Freedom Award
Annual Retreat

Leadership Program of the Rockies

Steamboat Institute

Annual Freedom Conference and Festival
Blankley Fellowship
Speaker Series
Courage in Education Award

Steamboat Institute

Free to Be Coalition

Campus Liberty Tour

Free to Be Coalition

Turning Point USA

Professor Watchlist

On campus events:
Milo Yiannopoulos appearing at CU Boulder
Ann Coulter appearing at CU Boulder

Turning Point USA

Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy

Visiting Conservative Scholar Courses
Visiting Conservative Scholar Campus Lectures
Conservative Thought & Policy Campus Guest Speakers
Visiting Conservative Scholar Off-Campus Boulder-area Lectures
Conservative Thought & Policy State Outreach Lectures

Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy


These organizations are interconnected in many ways.

The Steamboat Institute and the CU Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy ("CWCTP") are active partners in bringing politically conservative speakers to the Boulder campus and to Steamboat Springs.

Notice on the CWCTP home page, with a 'read more' link pointing to the Steamboat Institute web page for the tour.

Heidi Ganahl, a CU Regent, is a graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, a former board member of the Steamboat Institute, a co-founder of the Free to Be Coalition and an organizer of the CU event.

Two other members of the CU Board of Regents, Sue Sharkey and John Carson, are alumni of the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

CU President Bruce Benson plays an active role in the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy. He is the chief organizer of the Center, the chief fund raiser and chairs and selects the members of the Center's Advisory Committee.

Jennifer Schubert-Akin, Chair of the Steamboat Institute, was selected by CU President Benson to be a member of the Board of Advisors for the CU Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy.
Center for Western Civiliation Board of Advisors

In 2016 CU President Benson accepted a "Courage in Education" award from the Steamboat Institute for making "huge strides in advancing conservative thought and policy."
Steamboat Institute Courage in Education Award

President Benson, who helped to create the Leadership Program of the Rockies, also accepted a "Legacy Award" from LPR in 2017.
Leadership Program of the Rockies Legacy Award

CU student Marcus Fotenos was formerly a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Advisory Council, is currently an Undergraduate Fellow at the CU Boulder Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy and a co-founder of the Free to Be Coalition.
Center for Western Civiliation Marcus Fotenos

Charlie Kirk, the founder and head of Turning Point USA, is a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Advisory Council and has been a frequent guest speaker at conservative groups around Colorado, including the Steamboat Institute and the Centennial Institute.

Negative View of Higher Education

In addition to sharing basic principles, many of these groups also share a negative view of today's higher educational institutions.

These organizations typically claim that "balance", "diversity," "free speech," "open discussion" and "critical thinking" have disappeared from current higher ed institutions.

Accordingly, many of these organizations focus significant attention on US college and university students, and, in some cases, even high school students, as with the Freedom Trust's High School Program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit.

The recent event at CU was an instance of that university focus.

"Free and open exchange of ideas has been shut down, and its time to change that and teach these young leaders critical thinking skills."
Steamboat Institute Co-Founder Jennifer Schubert-Akin on KOA radio (at 69:14)

"The absence of diversity of thought and intolerance of opposing views are major obstacles in the road to academic freedom. The Free to Be Coalition aims to expose students to considering alternate points of view and ensuring their rights to free speech."
Nilam Desai, Co-Founder Free to Be Coalition

"In recent years, we have observed many universities caving to the pressures of 'political correctness' and, in the process, stifling free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses."
Steamboat Institute Co-Founder Jennifer Schubert-Akin at President Benson "Courage in Education" award announcement

"Marcus Fotenos of the Steamboat Institute called professors "moral cowards"" that "don't value reason or truth" and suggested that students take a stand for their pro-capitalism beliefs in the classroom."
Washington Examiner: CPAC vents frustrations over 'draconian' campus free speech

"It's critical that we teach students how to think, not what to think, and that our university is a place that values and promotes debate, discussion and, above all, free speech."
CU President Benson at Steamboat Institute's "Courage in Education" award announcement

CU-Boulder suspends 'critical thinking' course requirement

Boulder Daily Camera, January 25, 2010

"The University of Colorado will suspend a requirement that students take a "critical thinking" course before graduation -- a measure taken amid budget constraints.

Students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences are now required to take at least one of the upper-division courses designed to challenge them to critically study and analyze topics that are controversial or unsolved.

Now, the 150 upper-division critical thinking courses are taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty members and are capped at 25 students.

Many of the courses will remain available for students to take, according to CU officials. But the classes will likely be larger in size, and some will be taught by instructors instead of professors.

Dean Todd Gleeson said he expects the change will save the school between $150,000 and $200,000 a year. University officials say the school's commitment to teaching students to think critically is unwavering, and it's a skill integrated in many courses.

"Critical thinking is a core element in any kind of liberal arts education, and we're not walking away from that," Gleeson said."

A Closer Look

Leadership Program of the Rockies     Steamboat Institute     State Policy Network     Independence Institute     Mountain States Legal Foundation     Centennial Institute
Turning Point USA     Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy
Free to Be Coalition     Wall Street Journal Editorial Board     MediaDC
Jack Miller Center     Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Leadership Program of the Rockies

What is LPR?

"The Leadership Program of the Rockies is America's premier institute to develop, strengthen, train and equip emerging leaders to reach new heights in public policy and the political process.

LPR identifies and brings together emerging leaders from the legal, economic, business, political, nonprofit and civic professions to learn how visionary, principle-centered leadership can positively impact their community.""

What is LPR?

"The Leadership Program of the Rockies' mission is to change the culture of the United States to one that fully embraces freedom.

The program strives to educate and energize citizens whose understanding of politics is often inconsistent with a sound understanding of freedom's principles: individual natural rights, the proper role of government, and a responsible, engaged citizenry.

However, the Leadership Program of the Rockies is not a candidate training school. LPR is a one-of-a-kind program that focuses on cultural "influencers." We refer to our method as the Proximity Impact Model, and the result is impressive: a growing, formidable Army for Freedom that exerts pressure on the politicians.

Speakers at the Leadership Program of the Rockies help to equip program participants with a core foundation of the timeless principles of freedom, so that they can articulate and translate those timeless principles into action."

LPR Podcast Archive

How the program works

Teaching America's Founding Principles

The Leadership Program of the Rockies consists of nine full-day sessions, from October through June. There is a two-day retreat in February.

The criteria for selection in to the program will be an applicant's real world and professional background, a review of their education, as well as involvement in community service activities.

A selection committee comprised of public policy leaders will review all applications, and interviews will be conducted in September. The final selections will be announced at the completion of the interview process.

The tuition cost for the 2017 - 2018 class is $2,150. The full cost of the program is $6,500 per person, but we are able to fundraise enough throughout the year to subsidize the majority of the cost.

About the Program

LPR Course PowerPoint Presentation

Basic Ideas Taught in the Program

The ideas taught in the Leadership Program of the Rockies are grouped into two main modules, Defenders of Capitalism and Defenders of the Declaration. In addition to these idea modules, participants are taught skills such as public speaking and community involvement.

Defenders of Capitalism

"The Leadership Program of the Rockies curriculum is designed to develop, strengthen, train, and equip emerging leaders, that is, to integrate ideology and action. It provides an opportunity to rediscover the principles of America's Founders. These principles established the framework for a socio-economic system that came to be known as Capitalism. Though it created the most affluent and virtuous culture in history, Capitalism has been viciously attacked and ineptly defended and so is, today, not understood or practiced. Because these principles, the base of our freedom and prosperity, are constantly being eroded, it's crucial that leaders have an understanding of capitalism and learn its intellectual, historical, and moral defense.

We study, along with other supplements, the works of two of the greatest Defenders of Capitalism:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

And we will be pondering the answers to such questions as:

-What is the relationship between economic freedom and political freedom?
-What exactly is Capitalism and why is it disappearing?
-Who is John Galt?
-What were the true causes and consequences of the Great Depression?
-How did the 'Cradle to Grave' welfare state take over the land of the free?
-What does it mean to say the words 'to make money hold the essence of human morality'?
-How do we apply principles of Capitalism to today's pressing problems?"

About Defenders of Capitalism

Defenders of the Declaration

"In 2012 the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR) made a bold move: we changed the name and scope of the renowned Defenders of the Constitution lecture series to the Defenders of the Declaration. While the curriculum remains just as content rich, the new title more accurately reflects LPR's unique emphasis on the Timeless Principles of our American Founding. This educational project combines original source reading materials and classroom instruction aimed at teaching LPR students the principles of the United States Declaration of Independence and the foundation of constitutional government."

About Defenders of the Declaration

Class Materials Used in the Program

LPR 2017 - 2018 Class Syllabus

Here are samples of materials used in the program:

Defenders of Capitalism Syllabus and Reading Schedule

Tom Krannawitter Reading Handout

Check Your Premises Handout

Graduates of the Program

Most years the Program, formerly known as the Republican Leadership Program, graduates about 65 people.

LPR Alumni

A sample of the activities of LPR graduates in one year.

A sampling of one year's activities of LPR graduates


The Leadership Program of the Rockies presented its Champion of Freedom Legacy Award for 2017 to CU President Bruce Benson for "profound and long-term contributions to the Leadership Program of the Rockies".

Leadership Program of the Rockies Legacy Award

Steamboat Institute


"The Steamboat Institute promotes America's first principles and inspires active involvement in the defense of liberty. We do this primarily through hosting inspiring events around the U.S. and through our Tony Blankley fellowship."

Steamboat Institute

"Here at the Steamboat Institute, we are Defenders of Freedom and Advocates of Liberty. We are admirers of the bravery and rugged individualism that has made this country great. We are admirers of the greatness and wisdom that resides in every individual. We understand that this is a great nation because of its people, not because of its government. Like Thomas Jefferson, we would rather be "exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."

The Steamboat Institute is an educational organization recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code - and we are here to educate. We are here to help provide tools, information, and inspiration to those who hold the Founding Principles of the nation dear."

Steamboat Institute - About


Speakers appearing at Steamboat Institute events have included Dr. Ben Carson, Ann Coulter, Congressman Devin Nunes, Ambassador John Bolton, Senator Ben Sasse, Stephen Moore, William Perry Pendley, Congressman Ryan Zinke, Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney, Congressman Cory Gardner, Newt Gingrich, Congressman Mike Pence.

Steamboat Institute Event videos

The Steamboat Institute's flagship event is a yearly Freedom Conference & Festival.

Here is one page from the 2016 Freedom Conference & Festival program.

A day at the Freedom Conference & Festival, Saturday, August 27, 2016 (pp. 8-9)

Speakers this day include Yaron Brook, also an instructor at the the Leadership Program of the Rockies training program; Michael Flynn, later National Security Advisor; Mary Kissel, of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, later moderator at two events of the Steamboat Institute Campus Liberty Tour; Charlie Kirk, Founder and Director of Turning Point USA; CU student Marcus Fotenos; CU President Bruce Benson, accepting a "Courage in Education" award; Keynote Speaker Matthew Spalding; and Charlie Kirk and Marcus Fotenos again on organizing a conservative movment on campus.

Keynote Speaker Matthew Spalding and his wife Elizabeth Spalding would later participate in a Center for Western Civilization presentation in Boulder on April 5, 2018 on the topic of Assessing the Trump Presidency: Revolution, Realignment, or Chaos?


The Steamboat Institute presented its 2016 Courage in Education Award to CU President Bruce Benson.

"The Steamboat Institute is proud to partner with CU by co-sponsoring speaker seminars on the Boulder campus and in Steamboat Springs, in conjunction with CU's Conservative Thought & Policy Program. This speaker series offers students and members of the Boulder and Steamboat Springs communites with an outstanding opportunity to meet and interact with the nation's leading experts on topics ranging from free market capitalism to Supreme Court appointments.

It is because of President Benson's leadership that the culture on the Boulder campus has evolved to welcome intellectual diversity and the free and robust exchange of ideas."

2016 Freedom Conferenve Program, page 10

    Jennifer Schubert-Aikin, Chair of the Steamboat Institute, presents the award to Bruce Benson.

Excerpts from President Benson's remarks:

"I want to say about the Steamboat Institute: what a breath of fresh air in the state of Colorado! She is countering all the leftie groups down south of here . . . .

I'm very proud that as Jennifer says we're working in collaboration between us; the only thing wrong is we're not doing enough. . .   Let's get together and do more . . . .

The World Affairs Conference was a bunch of lefties coming in and talking to the students. Well, we got new management. They're gone now. We're bringing in a more balanced operation."

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson acceptance speech for Steamboat Institute award

State Policy Network

The State Policy Network is a national organization with about 65 member organizations around the country, including the four in Colorado listed below. The State Policy Network serves as an intermediary between national organizations such as American Legislative Exchange Council and the state-level organizations.

"Founded in 1992 by Tom Roe at the urging of Ronald Reagan, State Policy Network (SPN) is the only group in the country dedicated solely to improving the practical effectiveness of independent, nonprofit, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks."

State Policy Network

SPN's programs to support the network:

- Executive Leadership Training
- Operations Training
- Policy Training
- Development Training
- Communications Training

Supporting the Network

Colorado Member Organizations

Steamboat Institute

(see above Steamboat Institute)

Independence Institute

"A central role of an effective think tank is to produce quality research and analysis. Since 1985, we have provided research resulting in changes in law and policy. But we have never been content with just research. We are more than a think tank. We are an "action tank." We put our ideas into action through groundbreaking litigation, coalition building, work on ballot initiatives, new media and investigative reporting. We don't just fight on paper. We fight for freedom on the streets, in the statehouse, in the media, on the ballot, and in the courts.

The mission of the Independence Institute is to empower individuals and to educate citizens, legislators and opinion makers about public policies that enhance personal and economic freedom."

About the Independence Institute

CU President Bruce Benson appeared on the Devil's Advocate tv program with Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institue, September 4, 2015, discussing the University of Colorado:

Excerpts from President Benson's remarks:

"The important thing is the culture [of the institution] and how you get people to work together . . . . the culture of an institution is a huge deal . . . . you've got to work on culture . . . work on collaboration . . . and on teamwork . . . everybody being on the same page and create a friendly, happy environment and don't create a lot of problems."

Devil's Advocate program with Bruce Benson

Mountain States Legal Foundation

"Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation established in 1977 pursuant to I.R.C. 501(c)(3), as a Colorado corporation. MSLF is dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Governed by a Board of Directors and Board of Litigation, MSLF defends its clients, which may be individuals, businesses, corporate entities, trade associations, or local units of government, pro bono in litigation against governments - primarily the federal government - in defense of constitutional liberties and the rule of law. With its litigation on behalf of those who cannot afford private counsel (or whose goals with their litigation does not justify the expense of private counsel) MSLF seeks: 1) victory for its clients at the highest level possible, including the Supreme Court of the United States; 2) establishment of binding legal precedents that will benefit millions of Americans; and 3) education of the American public on the threat to their liberties that unrestrained government presents."

About Mountain States

Centennial Institute

"The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University works to enhance public understanding of the most important issues relating to faith, family, and freedom.

As part of this endeavor, the institute focuses its efforts on conducting research, analyzing public policy options, and sponsoring seminars, conferences, and other activities that involve students, faculty, staff, and outside experts."

About Centennial Institute

The Western Conservative Summit


Left: A notice for the 2018 Western Conservative Summit in Denver sponsored by Centennial Institute; Right: Charlie Kirk, founder and head of Turning Point USA speaking at the 2017 Western Conservative Summit.

"Red Alert Politics is the proud sponsor of our national under-30 conservative speech contest.

Red Alert Politics is known for their "30 Under 30" awards which highlight young, right-of-center leaders who are making an exceptional impact on their campuses or in their communities. In particular, they seek to highlight those who champion the principles of liberty, personal freedom, good citizenship, and free enterprise." (see below MediaDC)

The Colorado members of the State Policy Network work together to promote issues around the state.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation has sued the City of Boulder over its recent firearms ordinance. Independence Institute president Jon Caldara is the lead plaintiff in the suit.
Caldara v. City of Boulder

The State Policy Network members work together, along with other organizations, to promote The Tabor Road Show put on by the Tabor Yes Coalition.

"The Steamboat Institute is hosting a series of Western Slope events to showcase the importance of Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) . . . . The event is being put on by the coalition of groups listed above. Colorado's TABOR amendment is intended to limit the growth of government by limiting its access to Coloradans' paychecks. Spurred on by a decade of economic doldrums and expanding government, Coloradans passed it in 1992, ushering in some of the most rapid economic growth in the nation. However, TABOR opponents have repeatedly chipped away at the law's effectiveness, limited its application, and circumvented its restrictions. The results have been accelerating growth in state and local government, and slower economic growth."

Tabor Road Show

Turning Point USA

About Turning Point USA

"Turning Point USA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded on June 5, 2012 by Charlie Kirk. The organization's mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.

Since the founding, Turning Point USA has embarked on a mission to build the most organized, active, and powerful conservative grassroots activist network on college campuses across the country. With a presence on over 1,000 college campuses and high schools across the country, Turning Point USA is the largest and fastest growing youth organization in America."

Unidentified photo from Turning Point USA web site

About Turning Point USA

The Turning Point USA Store

Examples of posters, buttons and t-shirts sold at the Turning Point store.

Turning Point USA Store

Boulder Events

Milo Yiannopoulos appearing at CU Boulder on January 25, 2017.

From Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at CU Boulder. Top left: Milo's show at CU was titled "Ugly People Hate Me" and was part of his "Dangerous Faggot" campus tour. Milo is the figure in white at the left-center of the photo. All of the photos on the wall behind Milo are of Milo. Top Right/Lower Left: slides used in the show. Lower Right: A standing ovation following the show. All photos from live stream of this event at

YouTube video of Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at CU Boulder, January 25, 2017

Ann Coulter appearing at CU Boulder on March 21, 2018.

Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens appearing at CU Boulder on October 3, 2018.

A political rally for college students.
"Trump is the keeper of promises. I'm so supportive of what he's doing." -- Charlie Kirk
"All Democrats want to do is obstruct Donald J. Trump." -- Candace Owens

Professor Watchlist

"The mission of Professor Watchlist is to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom."

Professor Watchlist

Charlie Kirk

"Charlie Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, a national student movement dedicated to educating, empowering, and mobilizing young people behind the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government. Since the inception of Turning Point USA on June 5th of 2012 Charlie has grown Turning Point USA from nothing to having representation on over 750 high schools and colleges nationwide. At 21 years old, he has appeared on Fox News, CNBC, and FOX Business News over ninety times including frequent appearances on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" "Varney & Co." and "The Willis Report." He is a featured columnist for the Washington Times and a contributor for"

Steamboat Institute Emerging Leaders Advisory Council bio

Video and media appearances by Charlie Kirk. Top Right: a discussion of the Professor Watchlist on Fox News. Lower Left: Charlie Kirk with Marcus Fotenos on a Steamboat Institute panel disucssing "The PC Culture and Free Speech on College Campus."

Turning Point USA Young Women's Leadership Summit 2018

"Turning Point USA's Young Women's Leadership Summit is a 4-day conference for young, conservative women between the ages of 15 and 27. The 2018 YWLS will take place from June 14-17, 2018 in Dallas, TX.

Throughout the Summit, attendees will hear from some of the nation's most well-known conservative leaders and activists, receive first-class professional development and leadership training, and network with other attendees and organizations from all across the country.""

Young Women's Leadership Summit 2018

"[The keynote speaker, Kimberly] Guilfoyle gave a fiery speech in Dallas at a conservative leadership summit for young women. She cha-cha'd onstage in a bright red dress, through a cloud of pink confetti, to "Let's Get Loud.""

Washington Post: Kimberly Guilfoyle

Turning Point USA High School Leadership Summit 2018

"Turning Point USA's High School Leadership Summit is a 4-day conference for conservative high school students. This year's conference will take place from July 23-26, 2018 at George Washington University in Washington, DC. 700+ high school students will be invited to attend.

Throughout the conference, attendees will hear from some of the nation's most well-known conservative leaders and activists, receive first-class activism and leadership training, and network with other attendees and organizations from all across the country."

TPUSA High School Leadership Summit

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the podium
as the group of high-schoolers chant "lock her up"

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeated the phrase "lock her up" during a speech to conservative high school students on Tuesday, chuckling as the crowd began a chant that Trump supporters used during the 2016 campaign to call for jailing Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Sessions, the country's top law enforcement official, was speaking at a four-day conference hosted by the conservative organization Turning Point USA and attended by several hundred right-leaning high school students in Washington. In his speech, he sharply criticized American universities, saying they were coddling students and creating a "generation of sanctimonious, sensitive, supercilious snowflakes." "

July 24, 2018

Jeff Sessions Laughs and Echoes 'Lock Her Up' Chant With Conservative High Schoolers

Other speakers at the conference included Charlie Kirk, Donald Trump, Jr. and Nigel Farage.

Other Turning Point USA Conferences

Student Action Summit 2017

Free to Be Coalition

"Founded in Colorado [in the spring of 2018] by Heidi Ganahl, an entrepreneur and an elected Regent at the University of Colorado; Marcus Fotenos, a student leader at the University of Colorado and Former Student Body President; and Nilam Desai, a seasoned executive in international business development, the Free to Be Coalition brings forth a suite of initiatives to protect free speech on college campuses. Students, alumni, faculty, administrators, trustees/leadership and those passionate about protecting the first amendment will have a means to stay in touch, network and share stories

.   .   .   .

The [Campus Liberty Tour] is one initiative of many that the Free to Be Coalition is initiating to drive ideological diversity and protect free speech on college campuses. Other efforts include the Free to Be Student Debate Club, a Free to Be Higher Ed Leadership Roundtable this Fall, a "How to Free Speech" student marketing effort and a technology option for students to share stories and ideas on free speech and intellectual diversity."

The founders of the Coalition express their views on the motivation for founding the organization:

"Attempts to curtail free speech on campuses continues to threaten academic freedom. The Free to Be Coalition will be on the front lines of defending academic liberty on campus. Our efforts will provide the opportunity for both students and the community to listen to difference of opinions in a civil manner, in order to freely form their own conclusions on these oftentimes contentious issues," said Fotenos.

"The absence of diversity of thought and intolerance of opposing views are major obstacles in the road to academic freedom. The Free to Be Coalition aims to expose students to considering alternate points of view and ensuring their rights to free speech," said Desai."

Free to Be Coalition press release

Unidentified photo on Free to Be Coalition home page
startlingly reminiscent of political rallies throughout mid-twentieth-century Europe

Free to Be Coalition

Free to Be Coalition on Facebook


MediaDC is part of the Clarity Media Group, which also includes the Colorado Springs Gazette, owned by Philip Anschutz (CU's Anschutz Medical Campus is named in recognition of donations from the Anschutz Foundation).

Tom Rogan

Tom Rogan was selected to moderate the second stop of the Campus Liberty Tour. In 2014 he was selected as the recipient of the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute. Tom is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. He is a frequent guest and participant in Steamboat Institute events.

Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner is part of the MediaDC media group, which also includes The Weekly Standard, and formerly Red Alert Politics, a publication focusing on students, before it joined with Washington Examiner.


Red Alert Politics joins the Washington Examiner

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

About the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page

"On our editorial page we make no pretense of walking down the middle of the road. Our comments and interpretations are made from a definite point of view. We believe in the individual, in his wisdom and his decency. We oppose all infringements on individual rights, whether they stem from attempts at private monopoly, labor union monopoly or from an overgrowing government. People will say we are conservative or even reactionary. We are not much interested in labels but if we were to choose one, we would say we are radical. Just as radical as the Christian doctrine."

About Us - A Newspaper's Philosophy

Mary Kissel

Mary Kissel was selected to be the moderator of the last two stops of the Campus Liberty Tour. She is a member of the Wall Stree Journal Editorial Board and host of the Online Journal video program.

Mary Kissel is also a frequent participant at Steamboat Institute events.

The Wall Street Journal Opionion Journal

CU President Bruce Benson appeared on the Wall Street Journal video program "Opinion Journal" hosted by Mary Kissel on August 3, 2015, on the topic of "Can America's Universitites be Reformed?"

"I'm a business man. I'm not just an educator."

                                    The WSJ Opinion Journal

President Benson followed up his video appearance and further described his role as a business man in the university with a commentary in the print edition of the Wall Stree Journal entitled Giving College Administrators a Business Education on August 26, 2015.

Intercollegiate Studies Institute


"ISI was there when the American conservative movement started sixty years ago. Ever since then, we have been teaching students like you the core ideas behind the free market, the American Founding, and Western civilization, ideas that are rarely taught in your classroom.

In the early 1950s journalist Frank Chodorov wrote two articles calling for a "fifty-year project" to revive the American ideals of individual freedom and personal responsibility "by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations."

That call was realized in 1953. Chodorov founded ISI to counter the progressive ideology taking over American colleges. He selected a young journalist to lead our organization: William F. Buckley Jr.

Through six decades we have developed principled leaders in all corners of American society, including higher education, public service, the media, and business and finance. President Ronald Reagan said, "By the time the Reagan Revolution marched into Washington, I had the troops I needed - thanks in no small measure to the work with American youth ISI had been doing since 1953."

We connect you with professors and leaders in business, politics, and journalism; introduce you to like-minded students from around the country; offer leadership opportunities in on-campus ISI Societies and student-run publications; and provide unique internship and fellowship opportunities."

About ISI


"We work to instill an understanding of and appreciation for America's founding principles. These six principles of a free society represent ISI's core beliefs:

Limited Government

The rightful functions of government are to guarantee individual liberty, private property, internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice. When the state exceeds its proper role, it accumulates power and becomes a threat to personal liberty.

Individual Liberty

Individuals possess rights to life, liberty, property, and freedom from the restrictions of arbitrary force. They exercise these rights through the use of their natural free will.

Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is central to the idea of a free society and to the concept of self-government. Because each individual is morally responsible for his acts, citizens in a free society have an obligation to educate themselves to further the common good through the political process: this is the proper and necessary function of self-government.

The Rule of Law

Laws, not men, rule a free society. The Constitution of the United States, with its division of powers, is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government while preventing the concentration of power.

Free-Market Economy

Allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of a free society, and also the most productive and efficient supplier of human needs.

Traditional Values

The values, customs, conventions, and norms of the Judeo-Christian tradition inform and guide a free society. Without such ordinances, society induces its decay by embracing a relativism that rejects an objective moral order."

ISI Principles

ISI Societies

"Lead the campus counterculture. Start an ISI Society.

Want to defend freedom of speech at your school, bring together principled conservative students and professors, discuss big ideas, bring prominent speakers to campus, and stand up for truth and intellectual diversity in an increasingly hostile campus climate?

Then an ISI Society is for you.

What are ISI Societies?

ISI Societies are springing up on college campuses across the country. Find out how you can start an ISI Society at your school (or join an existing one). By doing so, you will not only become part of a national community of principled conservative students and friends; you will also receive from ISI the advice, mentoring, and even funding you need to make a difference on your campus.

As college campuses become more and more hostile to different viewpoints, ISI Societies stand up for the free exchange of ideas and the principles that make America free and prosperous. When you join an existing ISI Society or found one of your own, you will create a dynamic environment for you and other principled students and bring true intellectual diversity to your college community."

ISI Societies

ISI Inkling Society at CU

February 13, 2018

We're reading "Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy" [Regnery] this semester by Robert A. Sirico, founder of the Acton Institute [Acton]. Check out a conference held by the Acton Institute this May in New Orleans and apply to be there!

ISI Inkling Society at CU Facebook page

ISI Boulder Presents:

Tax Breaks for the Rich: America's wealthy are paying more than their fair share and its slowing down the economy.

Presentation given by Michael Huemer from University of Colorado, Boulder. A Q+A will follow the presentation, please come prepared to engage in respectful dialogue.

Michael Huemer (PhD, Rutgers, 1998) came to CU-Boulder in 1998 and works mainly in epistemology, ethics, and metaethics.

Professor Huemer has written on such topics as philosophical skepticism, the problem of induction, ethical intuitionism, free will, and deontological ethics, among others.

April 25, 2018
Hellems Arts and Sciences Room 252
6:30 PM

Tax Breaks for the Rich

An ISI Conference

American Education: True and False

"Join us as we explore the true meaning of a civic education -
and the consequences of a false one

In many ways, education determines America's future. Each generation proves education is a dynamic experiment - and not always for the better. It needs to be improved, but there are also permanent things which need to be conserved. Join us in Pittsburgh where we plan to explore competing educational philosophies and come one step closer to knowing what a true civic, liberal education looks like.

We will begin with the Great Tradition, so we can better identify those things assaulted by inordinately "progressive" culture. Once we have a fuller picture, we will discuss what a "civic" education can truly be. Lastly, pragmatic thinking is a must, so there will be a speaker to discuss how our principles might turn to practice. As with all ISI Conferences, you can expect the weekend at Pittsburgh to be filled with lively dialogue and thoughtful, energetic conversation. We hope you can join us!"

American Education: True and False

University of Colorado Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy

"At the dawn of the new millennium, American higher education faced a crisis. Dogmatic philosophies of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and statism were sweeping away thousands of years of Western thought. The academy was being scrubbed of free market economics, traditional attitudes toward Western civilization, time-tested methods of scholarship, and the general philosophy of liberty.

Into this breach stepped a new concept: privately funded academic centers that preserve and promote the knowledge and perspectives that are disappearing from the academy, with an emphasis on undergraduate education."

James G. Martin Center: Renewal in the University (p. 2)


The Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy is a rapidly expanding organization at CU Boulder under the leadership of CU President Bruce Benson.

The Center is the personal project of President Benson. He is the chief organizer and chief fund raiser for the Center. President Benson is also the chair of the Center's Advisory Committe and selects the members of that Committee.

The Center hosts Visiting Conservative Scholars to teach classes and give lectures, but its activities go well beyond that.

The Center's activities now include:

The Western Civ Dialogue Series
Conservative Thought & Policy Guest Speakers
Conservative Thought & Policy Outreach
The CWCTP Undergraduate Fellows Program
Foundations in Western Civilization Certificate
Student Grants
Faculty Grants

Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy Annual Report 2017-2018

These programs were implemented by President Benson without formal review or approval by the Board of Regents. The Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy operates in partnership with the Steamboat Institute, a conservative political advocacy organization located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

A Privately and Secretly Funded Center

University of Colorado Guiding Principles

2. Maintain a commitment to excellence.
3. Promote and uphold the principles of ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability.
4. Be conscientious stewards of the university's human, physical, financial, information, and natural resources.
5. Ensure policies, programs, procedures and practices encourage, honor, and respect teaching, learning, and academic culture.

University of Colorado Guidling Principles

Secret Donor Intent vs. Academic Independence

The founding documents for both the Visiting Conservative Scholar program and the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy are each a separate Memorandum of Understanding.

These Memoranda spell out the rules of operation for each program.

Priority of Donor Intent

"To support the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy, the university shall solicit private funds for operations and endowments from individuals and foundations.

It is imperative that the original purpose of any private gift or endowment is supported over time and the values stipulated in the written agreement are adhered to and the funds are not used for other purposes by the university. Donor intent is to remain the highest priority."

Memorandum of Understanding, Center for Western Civilization, May, 2015, p. 3

Influence of Major Donors on Academic Matters:
Conservative Thought & Policy Advisory Committee

"The purpose of the Conservative Thought & Policy Advisory Committee shall be to determine the individual to be appointed by the Dean of the College to hold the chair, and programming related to the Chair. The Conservative Thought & Policy Advisory Committee shall be composed of one tenured faculty member with interest in the principles underlying conservative political and social thought and policy from each of the following four departments (Political Science, Economics, Philosophy, History).

The Conservative Thought & Policy Advisory Committee shall also include five members (External) drawn from the population of donor representatives and possibly members of the Colorado political and business communities. Major donors will have the opportunity jointly to select the five External members of the Advisory Committee. Major donors are those who have contributed a minimum of $100,000 to the Chair. As vacancies occur among the External committee membership, current External members and other major donors will determine replacements for those vacancies. The Dean of the College shall appoint the individuals referenced above to serve on the Committee."

Memorandum of Understanding, Visiting Conservative Scholar, March, 2017, p. 1

Yet . . .  By Colorado law, Donor Identity and Donor Intent as expressed in any written documents relating to the donation, are to be held as secret:

The Colorado Open Records Act
C.R.S. 24-72-202(6)(b)(VII)

(b) "Public records" does not include:

(VII) For purposes of an institution [such as the University of Colorado] or an institutionally related foundation:

(A) The identity of, or records or information identifying or leading to the identification of, any donor or prospective donor to an institution or an institutionally related foundation;

(B) The amount of any actual or prospective gift or donation from a donor or prospective donor to an institutionally related foundation;

(C) Proprietary fundraising information of an institution or an institutionally related foundation; or

(D) Agreements or other documents relating to gifts or donations or prospective gifts or donations to an institution or an institutionally related foundation from a donor or prospective donor.

Colorado Revised Statutes 2017 Title 24

Donor Identity Secrecy in Practice

The following response was received from the University to an inquiry regarding the guests at a reception for the Conservative Scholars held at the home of CU President Benson:

"President Benson and Mrs. Benson held a reception at their home on April 11 [2017]. The following Visiting Scholars in Conservative Thought & Policy were in attendance:

2017-2018: Robert G. Kaufman
2016-2017: Francis Beckwith
2013-2014: Steven Hayward

Please note that donor identities have been redacted pursuant to C.R.S. 24-72-202(6)(b)(VII)(A) [Colorado Open Records Act]."

(see also Bradley Foundation Proposal)

Note: Some donor information is available on page 20 of the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy Annual Report 2017-2018.

Perspectives on Donor Funding and Influence at Public Universities

Billionaire's role in hiring decisions
at Florida State University raises questions

by Kris Hundley
Tampa Bay Times staff writer
Monday, May 9, 2011

"A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they've funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it's not happy with the faculty's choice or if the hires don't meet "objectives" set by Koch during annual evaluations."

Billionaire's role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions

Revelations Over Koch Gifts Prompt
Inquiry at George Mason University

By Anemona Hartocollis
The New York Times
May 1, 2018

"The president of George Mason University has ordered an inquiry into whether big-money donors are being given undue influence over academic matters, after documents were released showing that the Charles Koch Foundation had been given a voice in hiring and firing professors.

The university president, Angel Cabrera, wrote in an email to faculty Monday night that he was ordering the investigation after learning of documents revealing "problematic gift agreements." "

Revelations Over Koch Gifts Prompt Inquiry at George Mason University

2 Emails sent from George Mason University
President Ángel Cabrera to GMU Faculty

From: Office of the President
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2018 8:16:26 PM
Subject: A Message from President Ángel Cabrera

Dear Colleague:

As a result of a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request, last week I was made aware of a number of gift agreements that were accepted by the university between 2003 and 2011 and raise questions concerning donor influence in academic matters. The gifts were in support of faculty positions in economics and granted donors some participation in faculty selection and evaluation. Except for the most recent one, these agreements have expired.

The agreements did not give donors control over academic decisions, and all but the earliest of these agreements explicitly stated that the final say in all faculty appointments lies in university procedures. Yet these agreements fall short of the standards of academic independence I expect any gift to meet.

Since I arrived at Mason in 2012, I have made it a priority to have all gift agreements clearly uphold our commitment to academic independence. As I have stated before, gifts may be earmarked for programs, scholarships or faculty support, but donors may not determine what is taught, what student is funded, or what professor is hired. If these terms are not acceptable to donors, the gifts are kindly declined.

Fortunately, most donors understand and respect our firm commitment to academic independence, which has made it possible for our fundraising to reach unprecedented levels. Philanthropy is vital for achieving our mission of inclusive excellence. I am grateful to all donors who are willing to invest in our students and our university.



From: Office of the President
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2018 9:03 PM
Subject: A Message from President Ángel Cabrera

Dear Colleague:

Given the discovery of problematic gift agreements, which I communicated last Friday (see above), I have requested a thorough review of all active donor agreements supporting faculty positions throughout the university to ensure that they do not grant donors undue influence in academic matters. I have also ordered a comprehensive review of our gift acceptance policies and practices to ensure that they provide strong protection for our academic independence. I look forward to actively collaborating with faculty in this process and will work with Faculty Senate to explore how best to accomplish this.

If, in the course of the aforementioned reviews, we identify any agreements, policies or practices that compromise our academic independence, we will take swift and transparent corrective action.

With regards to the one still-active gift agreement in support of the Economics Department, which I mentioned in my earlier message, the donor has agreed to void the April 11, 2011 agreement and transfer the remaining $67,935 of the pledged gift to the university for general support.



George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera Emails to GMU Faculty

More Details for the Center's activities:

Undergraduate Involvement

"The Center has re-engaged students on a number of fronts. First, the Center conducted an initial outreach campaign to politically engaged students leaders on campus, getting to know each one personally, showing an interest in their organizations and opening the door towards collaboration. Secondly, the Center hired an undergraduate intern to assist in program marketing, event management, and data collection; this student has also increased the capacity of the Center to conduct additional programming." Center's Annual Report 2016-2017 (p.13)

Undergraduate Fellows

"This academic year, the Center created an Undergraduate Fellows program, modeled after the James Madison Center's Undergraduate Fellows Forum at Princeton. Undergraduate Fellows are offered special opportunities to engage with the Center, including intimate discussions with our visiting scholars, private receptions with prominent visitors, and advance notice about events and conferences. Our goal in creating the CWCTP Fellows program is to foster an environment of serious intellectual inquiry for all students who desire to learn more about the moral, economic, and political questions of our time." Center's Annual Report 2016-2017 (p.13)

Conservative Thought & Policy Outreach in the Boulder Area

"In addition to inviting guest speakers to give public lecture on campus, our Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought & Policy, Francis Beckwith [2016 - 2017], gave 6 lectures within Boulder and the surrounding area. This outreach helped expand our center's audience and interest." Center's Annual Report 2016-2017 (p.10)

"Community groups addressed this year include but are not limited to: the Center for Values & Social Policy, Colorado Christian University's Centennial Institute, The Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, Christian Caucus of the Colorado Legislature, St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, Americhiks Radio: The Heart of the Matter, The Denver Seminary, Boulder Republican Women, Douglas County Republican Women, Colorado Republican Business Coalition, Liberty on the Rocks- Flatirons, and The Steamboat Institute." Center's Annual Report 2016-2017 (p.10)

Conservative Scholar Outreach Tours of Colorado

In addition to Boulder campus lectures, and off-campus lectures in the Boulder area, the conservative scholars regularly travel throughout the state of Colorado speaking on conservative issues, often accompanied and introduced by the CU Boulder Chancellor.

Clockwise from upper left: CU Boulder Chancellor DiStefano introduces Brian Domitrovic in Sterling, Colorado, November, 2015 (Sara Waite / Sterling Journal-Advocate); Robert Kauffmann speaking in Fort Morgan, February, 2018 (Paul Albani-Burgio / Fort Morgan Times); Chancellor DiStefano introduces Francis Beckwith in Colorado Springs, February, 2017 (Westside Pioneer photo); Robert Kauffmann speaking at the Colorado State Capitol at CU Advocacy Day, January, 2018 (Trevr Merchant, CU Connections).

Center Expansion: CU Anounces 2 Conservative Scholars for 2018-2019

As part of the ongoing expansion of the Center, CU Boulder announced that for the fist time it will appoint 2 visiting Conservative Scholars to serve concurrently starting in the 2018 - 2019 acdemic year.

CU Boulder appoints W.B. Allen, Stephen B. Presser visiting scholars in conservative thought, policy

The 2 new appointments, W. B. Allen and Stephen B. Presser, are both fellows of the The Jack Miller Center for Teaching America's Founding Principles and History.

            JMC Fellows Named CU Boulder's Visiting Conservative Scholars

Jack Miller Center for Teaching America's Founding Principles and History

About the Jack Miller Center

"Supporting the scholarship, teaching and study of the central ideas and themes of American history and the broader traditions of Western Civilization"

The Mission of the Jack Miller Center

"To transform student access to education in American political thought and history"

What the Jack Miller Center Does

"The Jack Miller Center partners with faculty, administrators, and donors to transform student access to education in American political thought and history, an education necessary for informed civic engagement.

We aim to help provide coming generations the opportunity for an education grounded in a commitment to the values of liberty and equal opportunity. It's with this goal in mind that JMC works to:

- Build a community of professors committed to this education. Professors will be the engine for change, increasing student access to courses and other learning opportunities. JMC Summer Institutes, postdoctoral fellowships, regional events, such as our Jeffersonian Seminars, along with programs and panels at national conferences, allow us to expand and deepen our relationship with these professors.

- Develop a network of partner programs that will sustain this work on individual campuses. As the number of partner programs grows, we can leverage their impact through a networking effect, as professors find opportunities to collaborate and advance this vital education and scholarship.

- Conduct national programs that no individual professor or campus would be able to do alone. These include the Constitution Day Initiative, the American Political Thought Journal, and the annual National Summit on Higher Education.

- Support a community of donors with research and services that allow them to invest in this higher education intelligently and with an expectation of doing good and achieving their individual goals."

About the Jack Miller Center

      Jack Miller Center Annual Report 2016/17 (pp. 10 - 11 )

The University of Colorado - Steamboat Institute Partnership

"I want to say about the Steamboat Institute: what a breath of fresh air
in the state of Colorado! She is countering all the leftie groups
down south of here. . . .

I'm very proud that as Jennifer says we're working in collaboration
between us; the only thing wrong is we're not doing enough. . . .
Let's get together and do more. . . ."

-- Bruce Benson, CU President
Acceptance speech for Steamboat Institute
Courage in Education award

August 27, 2016

The Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy, a personal project of CU President Bruce Benson, continues to be actively engaged in an ongoing partnership with the Steamboat Institute, a conservative political advocacy organization, to promote conservative ideas at CU and around the state.

Jennifer Schubert-Akin, Chair of the Steamboat Institute, was selected by CU President Bruce Benson to be a member of the Board of Advisors for the CU Center for Western Civilization.
Center for Western Civiliation Board of Advisors

CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, a co-founder of the Free to Be Coalition, is a former member of the Steamboat Institute Board of Directors.

CU President Bruce Benson was a personal financial sponsor of the Steamboat Institute Campus Liberty Tour.

The Steamboat Institute is a regular stop on the Conservative Scholar outreach tours of Colorado


The Steamboat Institute regularly co-sponsors speaker events in Boulder with the Center for Western Civilization.

Top: Steamboat Institute Chair Jennifer Schubert-Aiken introduces speaker Jay Nordlinger on the CU campus, October 14, 2015; Bottom: Ms. Schubert-Aiken introduces speaker Yaron Brook at the British Studies Room of Norlin Libary on the CU campus, March 12, 2015.

The Steamboat Institute presented its 2016 Courage in Education Award to CU President Bruce Benson.

"The Steamboat Institute is proud to partner with CU by co-sponsoring speaker seminars on the Boulder campus and in Steamboat Springs, in conjunction with CU's Conservative Thought & Policy Program. This speaker series offers students and members of the Boulder and Steamboat Springs communites with an outstanding opportunity to meet and interact with the nation's leading experts on topics ranging from free market capitalism to Supreme Court appointments.

It is because of President Benson's leadership that the culture on the Boulder campus has evolved to welcome intellectual diversity and the free and robust exchange of ideas."

2016 Freedom Conferenve Program, page 10

    Jennifer Schubert-Aikin, Chair of the Steamboat Institute, presents the award
to Bruce Benson, followed by remarks from President Benson.

Advertisement promoting Steamboat Institute's 2018 Freedom Conference & Festival appearing on the Center for Western Civilization's web site and newsletter (here), featuring an appearance by Professor Robert Pasnau, Director of the CU Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy.

CU's two Visiting Conservative Scholars on tour around Colorado,
sponsored by the Steamboat Institute.

Swedish conservative Mattias Karlsson spoke at CU, and the following day at
the Steamboat Institute, on the need for the right to unite

The Center for Western Civilization Thought and Policy advertises (April, 2019,
CWCTP newsletter
) the annual Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference and
scholarships for students to attend

CU President Benson Discusses CU and the Center for Western Civilization

"Bruce Benson, President of the University of Colorado, was the featured speaker at the October [2014] Speaker Series for the Opportunity Coalition. Mr. Benson spoke on everything from tuition and financial aid, to diversity, to why CU joined the PAC 12."

Excerpts from President Benson's remarks:

"I would like to introduce a couple people here . . .

Shari Williams . . . an old political buddy of mine.

[Shari Williams, President of the Leadership Program of the Rockies ]

.    .    .    .

How do we run this university in a better way, a more sensible business way, than traditional higher education?

.    .    .    .

I'm going to stress another kind of diversity, and that's political diversity.

We need to have a balance.

Everybody knows 80 to 90% of the faculty are a bit more liberal than I am, you could put it that way.

But you'll find that most of them that are don't really care about that.

.    .    .    .

Then we had our conservative chair.

I told Phil DiStefano
[CU Boulder Chancellor] we're going to get this chair done whatever and just make it happen.

Betsy Hoffman
[former CU President] tried it. Hank Brown [former CU President] tried it twice, at UNC and Boulder, couldn't get it done.

By God we got it done.

.    .    .    .

So we got this in. We got it funded. We got a great guy Steven Hayward
[first CU Conservative Scholar].

I learned a lot from him about how you handle things.

I told him I've been working with Hoover Institute out at Stanford University trying to bring in those kinds of principles.

[ Hoover Institution ]

Hayward said you're doing the wrong one.

Go to Princeton and see Robby George.

[Robert P. George]

James Madison Program]

I don't totally agree with what he's doing.

.    .    .    .

Then a familiar name popped up.

There is something called the Bradley Institute which finances a bunch of that.

[The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation]

That was headed up until a few months ago by a guy named Terry Considine.

Terry and I have been been buddies and business partners and everything else for many years.

[ Terry Considine was the winner of Leadership Program of the Rockies Legacy Award in 2012.

2012 Leadership Program of the Rockies Legacy Award to Terry Considine

CU President Bruce Benson, identified by a prior political affiliation,
was one of several speakers in a 2012 tribute video to Leadership Program of the
Rockies Legacy Award winner Terry Considine

2012 Leadership Program of the Rockies Tribute Video to Terry Considine ]

So I said to Terry one night, You gonna fund me if I do this?

He said Yeah, give us a proposal. Let's see what it is.

So we're going forward with that.

[ A request to the University for a copy of the proposal sent by the University to the Bradley Foundation regarding the Center for Western Civilization received this reply (April 27, 2018):

"This email is to inform you pursuant to C.R.S 24-72-202(6)(b)(VII) [The Colorado Open Records Act], the information you request is not a public record."

(also see above: A Privately and Secretly Funded Center) ]

.    .    .    .

By the way - "Conservative Chair" - get rid of that name "conservative."

So we're gonna have a new word, we're probably gonna call it "chair in American values."

Because you don't want to have these hot button words.

Of course, you wouldn't have any idea of where that might lead, but we'll go on.

.    .    .    .

Throughout the time I've been here we're just putting in better business practices.

Because I am a business man not an educator.

[ see also: Bruce Benson's role as a business man in Wall Street Journal Editorial Board ]

.    .    .    .   "

CU President Benson's Talk at the Opportunity Coalition

Updated: April 16, 2019

CU Forum