There is a place, which I have only known about since 2007, which has become in the intervening years, very dear to my heart. That place is Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan. The College has been in existence since 1844, celebrating its 175th Anniversary in October of 2019. Besides being an exemplary Liberal Arts College, Hillsdale’s main claim to fame is their refusal to accept one penny of Government money. Their students may not take any form of government scholarship or loan money. The College learned many years ago, that, if they accept any kind of government funding, they are subject to all the many rules and regulations and strictures imposed by every level of government on educational institutions.
Hillsdale has been wildly successful in its educational mission, “Pursuing Truth, Defending Liberty, since 1844”. The college, while still relatively small, has supported many programs that seed classical charter schools (Barney Charter School Initiative); act as a laboratory school for education majors on campus (Hillsdale Academy); hold classes for Federal Government employees and members of Congress in Washington, DC (Kirby Center); begun graduate programs, both on campus and in DC (Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship, and Van Andel Graduate School of Government); disseminate a monthly speech digest, called Imprimis, that has millions of recipients; and sponsor dozens of free online courses available to the public, in subjects from Ancient Western Civilization, to Great Books, to Economics, to the Constitution.
Since the college accepts no government funds, it must cultivate a wide field of friends and donors, both large and small. All of Hillsdale’s supporters have been quite generous, enabling the college to build a new chapel on campus, staff and renovate the Kirby Center in DC, maintain a Shooting Sports Center, and Luther Lodge on Lake Michigan. The college runs a “lifetime learning” program for retirees and students in the summer months, which my husband and I attended in the summer of 2010. We drove from our home in Washington State to Hillsdale and back, going through states we’d never seen, and some that I had been through before.
The Hillsdale Campus is very beautiful, in semi-rural south-central Michigan. Here are some photos I took in the summer of 2010, on campus.
Below is the entrance to the college. It’s quite inviting.
This is Central Hall, one of the first buildings built on the Hillsdale campus. It has been very well-maintained over the 175 years of its existence, and shows the college’s Classical leanings.
Around campus, the college has placed statues of famous defenders of Liberty, some of whom were US Presidents.
Not just humans and statues are present on the Hillsdale campus. They have a bunch of black squirrels, which we had never seen before.
In 1860, nearly the entire senior class of male students left college to enlist in the Union Army. There is a monument to them on campus, from not too long after the war. This college has History!
Not all of those seniors survived the war, but the College can testify to its mission of Defending Liberty.
The Library and Student Union buildings reflect the college’s Classical sensibilities.
In October of 2019, for the school’s 175th anniversary, we went to campus for the dedication of the new Christ Chapel, and its organ, which was built by an organ builder from Tacoma, Washington!
The organ is truly a work of art, aside from its wonderful sound. We were given a “tour” by the organist.
We discovered one more of the statues on campus, in the basement of the student union building. One other feature of the Hillsdale community is its wonderful President, Larry Arnn. One of his major accomplishments in life was taking over the huge project of collecting the entirety of the papers and writings of Sir Winston Churchill, from its initiator, Martin Gilbert. That project is finished now, and it includes dozens of very thick books of speeches, writings, and history. So, they honored the great British Prime Minister.
Hillsdale College is truly a unique wonder in America. My husband and I are endowing a scholarship there, in Music. It will take a few more years before it is funded, but once that happens, we will get to meet whichever students are chosen, and follow their progress. And, in my retirement, I have become a Hillsdale Associate, which is a remote resource for the college, and I am available to speak to prospective students, parents, and donors.
Welcome to my new world.