In his 15 years as president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Dr. Everett Piper has become known for his passionate defense of intellectual freedom. Piper advocates tirelessly for cultural courage grounded in the conservation of time-tested truths, and is the 2016 recipient of the Jeane Kirkpatrick Award for Academic Freedom. His commentary on religion, education, leadership and politics is routinely featured in local and national and talk-radio, where persistently challenges the intolerant tolerance of today’s academic community.
Dr. Piper is the author of Why I Am A Liberal, and Other Conservative Ideas and the viral op-ed, “This is Not a Daycare, It’s a University”. His newest book on safe spaces and trigger warnings is the best-selling “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth.” Piper has been featured on variety of media outlets including FOX News, FOX and Friends, FOX Business Channel, the Glenn Beck Show, The Factor with Bill O’Reilly, NRA TV, the Dana Loesch Show, The Adam Carolla Show, and the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. He has also been a guest on dozens of talk radio programs from coast to coast. Piper is a weekly columnist for the Washington Times and his writing has been featured in multiple other newspapers and periodicals from coast to coast.
A native of Hillsdale Michigan, Dr. Piper grew up in a family that valued hard work, a mindset he carried with him as he moved from industry into pursuing a college degree. Dr. Piper attended Spring Arbor University for his undergraduate education, earned his M.A. from Bowling Green State University, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
The Pipers, along with their two sons—Seth and Cobi—have served as OKWU’s First Family since August of 2002. Dr. Piper actively participates in the Bartlesville community and the Wesleyan church, and serves on a variety of councils and boards relating to Christian leadership, public policy, and community service.
What has happened to the American spirit? We’ve gone from “Give me liberty or give me death!” to “Give me a trophy, or I’ll throw a tantrum.” Our colleges, which used to be bulwarks of free speech and now bastions of speech codes. Our culture, which once rewarded independence and virtue, now celebrates vice and victimhood. The fault, frankly lies at the doors of the ivory tower; in the halls and classrooms of our nation’s colleges and universities. We are reaping the consequences of teaching terrible ideas and embracing terrible education for the past several decades. We seem to think education should be safe, rather than good. We seem to be more interested in celebrating opinions rather than learning what’s true. We focus on feelings rather than facts. The color of our students’ skin has become more important than the content of their character. Faculty foment political conflict rather than personal forgiveness. Trigger warnings now must be issued before we express any contrary ideas. There is more division than unity. We have forgotten that “This is not a day care. Its a university.”
The answer to the campus riots sweeping the nation is not found in the tyranny of false “tolerance” or the ideological safety of “trigger warnings.” It isn’t found in more restrictions and more legalism. It isn’t found in perpetuating victimization, violence, or vengeance. It is found in returning to the age-old mission of the liberal arts academy: In veritas in the pursuit of truth. Berkeley argues that it is the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. I beg to differ. Human freedom, intellectual or otherwise, was not born in Berkeley, California but rather in a community called Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. The fundamental principles of higher education are grounded in the words: You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
GK Chesterton once told us, if you get rid of the big Laws, you don’t get liberty but rather thousands of little laws that rush in to fill the vacuum. Academic freedom has never been found in the urls of government, the power of professors or the temper tantrums of students, but rather, in the few and simple Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. There is a reason that dozens of universities were once emblazoned with the motto “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” There is no liberty with Law and there is no freedom if you stop teaching truth.
Should education simply be about what is common? Should it be about what is average or should it be about what is excellent? Should education be satisfied with simply preparing students for a career of should it be about helping them develop their character? Shouldn’t education be about morality as much as it is about math? What is the purpose of education? If we are educate a free man and free woman; a free people; a free culture and free nation, shouldn’t education be more than just dumbing it down to what is “common”?
When you teach victimization your are going to get vice and violence. Those who focus on their victimhood are self-centered and demand their “rights.” Those who focus on virtue are selfless and demand what is right. Veritas (latin for truth) frees a people from the bondage of their selfish motives. It results in a virtuous and free society. Victimization always digresses into vice and violence and ultimately must be controlled by the State.
Mission matters! If you are a friend to everyone and an enemy to no one, they you’re a leader of nothing, for no one is following. When turning around an organization, remember that its not about men and its not about money. Its about mission. When your mission is clear and bold, the men and the money will follow. But where there is no vision, the people perish and so does your organization and your career.
One of the most important questions of our time is that of human identity. We are told constantly by the academic and political elites that our identity is little more than the sum total of our inclinations; that we nothing more than what we are inclined to do; that our appetites, our proclivities, our passions, our desires define us. But aren’t we more than this? Are we really nothing more than animals that follow our every instinct or do we have personal responsibility and culpability for doing and being what is right? Are we the imago Dei or are we the imago dog?
Always remember that he who defines the words wins the debate. Culture is defined by idea and ideas are defined by words. Words mean something. Education is about words. Politics is about words. Culture is about words. Words mean something! The have definitions. Words like tolerance and intolerance, left and right, change and choice, right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral, and even words like male and female. Lying about words and with words is always wrong. There is power – ultimate power – in words.
There is no liberty without law and there is no freedom with fences. This is the grand paradox; the paradox of discipline and freedom. Human freedom has always been realized within the boundaries of the “self-evident truths that have been endowed to us by our creator.” If we tear down we don’t get freedom but rather fascism. We get the rule of the gang or the tyranny of the One.