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An Americanist dream come true: with its launch in the fall of 2005, Robert Welch University will begin to realize the dream of its namesake by offering an education that America's Founders would endorse.

While most of us are familiar with the distinguishing traits of the American Founding Fathers--the eloquence of Patrick Henry, the erudition and wisdom of Ben Franklin, and the character and leadership abilities of George Washington, for example--many of us do not fully appreciate the key role that a traditional liberal arts education played in molding those remarkable men. In the Founders' day, the "liberal" in "liberal arts" referred to the principles and ideas associated with human liberty. Liberty in the sense that the Founders understood it could only be comprehended in the greater context of Western Civilization, a context that only a liberal arts education could provide.

Robert Welch University is preparing to offer online the kind of liberal arts education that the Founders received. On February 15, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin's largest newspaper, reported that "the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board has given the green light to a new online university promising an education based on 'Americanist principles.'" The article briefly described Robert Welch University's commitment to limited, constitutional government and its relationship to the John Birch Society, "the well-known conservative organization" based in Appleton, Wisconsin.

The approval of Robert Welch University by the state of Wisconsin to offer an online Associate Degree in liberal arts may seem a small step, but it is the culmination of years of planning and effort by RWU's staff. With the online launch now planned for September 2005, Robert Welch University is finally within striking distance of achieving the dream of its founder, Robert Welch.

Adventure of Becoming

Robert Welch--businessman, scholar, writer, and founder of the John Birch Society--once pointed out that the rewards of education lie chiefly "in the mental adventure of becoming." Had he lived to see the creation of his long-cherished dream of an Americanist university, Robert Welch might have added that the chief reward of setting up an educational institution is the adventure of becoming, of watching the organization progress through each carefully planned stage of development.

Robert Welch University was originally incorporated as John Birch University in 1974. Robert Welch wanted to create an educational institution that would teach the elements of a traditional liberal arts education --history, classical studies, literature, abstract science, philosophy, and the arts--and would emphasize the principles of limited government as espoused by America's Founding Fathers. He envisioned his university becoming "a place where responsible young men and young women go to receive ... a fundamental education in the accumulated knowledge of history and science and literature and languages which we 'heirs of all the ages' have inherited." But when Robert Welch died in 1985, his dream of founding a full-fledged university was still unfulfilled.

By the mid-1990s, the power and potential of the Internet was becoming apparent. In 1994, John Birch University was renamed Robert Welch University, and plans were laid for creating an online university that would provide a liberal arts education from an Americanist perspective. By 2001, the funds were in place to begin moving towards a launch date.

As a first important step, RWU procured a new building equipped with state-of-the-art wiring for computer networking, as well as classrooms and space for RWU's ample book collection. RWU also commissioned the construction of attractive shelves to create a classical-library environment for the book collection. The finished library has been named the Binzel Library in honor of the late Dr. Philip Binzel, a former John Birch Society Council member, and his wife Betty.

RWU Online

Over the past decade, the online education sector has boomed, with organizations like the University of Phoenix and Cappella University leading the way. Because most successful online institutions have offered vocational and business training instead of humanities, arts, and sciences, the market niche for online liberal arts degrees is wide open. Robert Welch University developed a business and marketing plan targeting September 2005 for the launch of an online Associate Degree in liberal arts.

After an exhaustive search and recruitment process, RWU's staff found more than a dozen qualified and enthusiastic academics in various liberal arts disciplines--including history, philosophy, and classical studies--to prepare our curriculum. RWU now has a completed roster of courses that includes American history, Western Civilization, literature, writing and composition, political philosophy, constitutional law, economics, and classical languages (Latin, Greek, and Hebrew).

Students working towards RWU's Associate Degree in liberal arts will receive an introduction to American and Western history, taught from a perspective seldom found in today's institutes of higher learning. They will be required to take 12 credits' worth of a classical language, and will also be introduced to free-market economics and the principles of American government. They will even take a course on The Federalist Papers, which will give them an in-depth introduction to this most fundamental founding document.

RWU's marketing plan will showcase the new degree program nationwide in publications for home-schoolers, websites, and other venues that will reach a politically conservative audience.

RWU will follow the launch of the Associate Degree program with a full BA in history. Among our faculty adjuncts we already count a number of qualified historians, including Dr. Thomas Woods, the best-selling author of A Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, who has prepared an introductory series of courses covering American history from the Colonial period to World War II. Other BA offerings and, eventually, a Master's (MA) in American Studies, will be developed down the road.

"Robert Welch University is a dream come true for students who want the rigor and standards of a traditional university education without the politically correct nonsense," notes Dr. Woods. "That doesn't mean students at RWU won't have to do any critical thinking: to the contrary, they'll be exposed to a wide range of perspectives that they're encouraged to discuss and critique. They'll learn everything a student in the typical college classroom learns, but they'll also learn the facts the typical class leaves out. And they'll be taught by distinguished faculty with prestigious degrees. What more could a parent ask for?"

Once RWU is fully fleshed out as an online university, the final step for development will be procuring a bricks-and-mortar campus for the institution. Someday, in the not-too-distant future, somewhere in the United States, a university campus will exist where young Americans will receive an education that the American Founders would endorse. Someday, young leaders--with a solid understanding of the foundational beliefs of the American Founding Fathers and an appreciation for the neglected values and accumulated wisdom of Western and American civilization--will emerge from the online and bricks-and-mortar classrooms of Robert Welch University. Taking full advantage of this unique education, they will be a major force in leading America back to the limited constitutional government, free civilization, and moral culture of our forefathers.

ROBERT WELCH UNIVERSITY STAFF

Education. Principles. Freedom.

Gene Ritter

Web and Graphics Design

Jacob Lovell

Systems Administrator

Alan Scholl

Administrative Services Director

Dr. Steve Bonta

Executive Director

Wendi Hermsen, CPA

Director of Accounting

David Spilker

Manager of Office Operations

Jesse Frickenstein

Director of Marketing

Dr. Steve Bonta, a contributing editor to THE NEW AMERICAN, is Executive Director of Robert Welch University.
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Opinion Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Education
Author:Bonta, Steve
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U3WI
Date:Mar 21, 2005
Words:1174
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