National Association of Scholars

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{{#badges:Climate change}} The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is a non-profit organization in the United States that opposes multiculturalism and affirmative action and seeks to counter what it considers a "liberal bias" in academia.[1]

In 2010 and 2011, its president was espousing climate contrarianism under the group's auspices, with no evident expertise in the climate science field.[2]

The Association's officers are not answerable to its membership: according to its 2009 IRS Form 990 (Part VI Section A), the Association doesn't have members (line 6), members don't elect the officers (line 7a), and the decisions of the governing body are not subject to members' approval (line 7b).[3] Mid-2000s IRS filings also indicate that the Association was controlled by 0 or 1 person.

The Association's major foundation donor is the Sarah Scaife Foundation. By 2009, the majority of the Association's revenue came from "educational partnerships", the funding for which is winding down. While the NAS continues to describe itself as "an independent membership association of academics..."[4], in late 2009 membership was opened to all.[5]

Anyone interested in a more thorough report on this organization should read the later parts of John Mashey's 34pp "Bottling Nonsense" pdf, in the Resources section below.



The group was founded in 1987[6] by Herbert London and Stephen Balch[4][7] with the goal of preserving the "Western intellectual heritage".[8], or perhaps in 1982 with Barry R. Gross[9] and Peter Shaw[10],[11] It was originally called the Campus Coalition for Democracy[4].


Former mission: to protect academe from outside influence

In 1995, "The National Association of Scholars describes itself as dedicated to keeping outside political influences from tainting teaching and learning on campuses", according to a New York Times article.[9]

De jure independent, de facto right

Against political correctness

While the Association's mission statement says it is "an independent membership association of academics" working to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate", a 1996[12] report by People for the American Way[13] pegs the mission as "to unite right-wing faculty against 'politically correct' multicultural education and affirmative action policies in college admissions and faculty hiring that take race or gender into account."

1960s cultural shift threatening study of Western Civilization
"In addressing issues that are of academic concern across the political spectrum, the N.A.S. has recently been successful in attracting a small number of liberal and moderate faculty, but the overall thrust of the N.A.S. remains conservative. In lecture halls and on the op-ed pages of many prominent national papers, N.A.S. members across the country put forward the idea that multicultural education, gender studies and affirmative action policies are simply trendy endeavors or throwbacks to 1960s "radicalism." 112 Invariably, these programs are described as threats to the study of Western civilization. As of 1996, the organization has approximately 4,000 members (faculty and graduate students), with 38 state affiliates; it has representatives in the American Sociological Association, the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association."[13]

Agnostic on - but participating in - climate science rejection

See "Actions" section below.


As of 2009

In its 2009 filing, the Association received ~80k from membership dues, ~600k from foundations and ~1.8 million from "educational partnerships", according to its 2009 IRS Form 990 filing.[1]

70% came from educational partnerships - Teaching American History (TAH)

In 2009, ~70% of Association funding came from "educational partnerships"; these reportedly involve providing teaching materials, speakers etc. to schools who contract with them, using monies from the U.S. Department of Education's "Teaching American History" program.[14]

"The program supports competitive grants to local educational agencies.... Grants are used to improve the quality of history instruction by supporting professional development for teachers of American history. In order to receive a grant, a local educational agency must agree to carry out the proposed activities in partnership with one or more of the following: institutions of higher education, nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums."[2]

Foundation funding

Scaife has been heaviest donor

The Sarah Scaife Foundation, a heavy and consistent donor, appears to have been the Association's biggest foundation donor from 1991-2005MediaTransparency site and likely beyond: it gave $200k in 2009, $250k/yr from 2000-2008, $300k/yr from 1994-1999, and various amounts before then.[15]. The 2005+ Scaife funding does not show up on Media Matters.

Other foundations

As of 1996, PFAW said

"The N.A.S. is heavily backed by the Olin, Bradley, Sarah Scaife, J.M., Coors and Smith Richardson foundations, among others, receiving a combined total in excess of $348,000 from these foundations alone in 1990-91."[13]

Shifts over time

2002-2009: rise of "educational partnerships", decline of membership dues

Association funding has come to be dominated by revenue from "educational partnerships". Revenue from these partnerships rose from nothing in 2002[3] to $30k in 2003[4], to $440k the following year[5], and since has grown to $1.8 million in 2009[6].

Over this same 2002-2009 period, membership dues declined by a third, from ~120k down to ~80k.

2011,"educational partnerships" TAH funding going away

Funding for the Teaching American History program is winding down; it dropped by over half in 2011, and and no new grants are being awarded.[16]


Board of Directors

As of July 2011 there were 34 members:[18]

Daniel Asia, Evelyn Avery, Jay A. Bergman, Philip J. Clements, George W. Dent, Jr., Candace de Russy, William A. Donohue, Kenneth O. Doyle, Norman Fruman, Bernard K. Gordon, Gail L. Heriot, Christina Jeffrey, E. Christian Kopff, Michael I. Krauss, Dorothy Lang, Barry Latzer, Thomas K. Lindsay, Herbert I. London, John N. Mathys, Wight Martindale, David D. Mulroy, Anne D. Neal, B. Nelson Ong[19], Jeffrey J. Poelvoorde, Edward A. Rauchut, Glenn M. Ricketts, Norman Rogers, Michael Schwartz, Philip Siegelman, Barry Smith, Sandra Stotsky, Jeffrey Walllin, Bradley C.S. Watson, Keith Whitaker

Confusingly, these names don't show on the 2002-2009 Form 990 filings[7]; although several have told me they've been board members for years or decades[20].

Advisory board

The only advisory board member I've corresponded with reports having joined at the NAS's invitation, but never being tapped for advice, and the board never meeting.[21]


As of 2009's Form 990, the advisory board consisted of 27 individuals:

2000 or earlier

As of 1996, "Its advisory board lists right-wing intellectuals such as Jeane Kirkpatrick, co-director of Empower America and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Irving Kristol; Leslie Lenkowsky, president of the Hudson Institute; and Chester Finn of the Edison Project, a corporation formed to privatize public education."[13]

Is NAS a one-man operation?

Governance information

Governing body had 0 votes; inconsistent answers on 990 filing

Since at least 2005, IRS Form 990 has asked how many members of the nonprofit's "governing body" actually have a vote; and the answers NAS has given are suggestive:

2005, 2006 and 2007: 0; with a roughly 10-member board.
2008: 1, with 32 being independent(???); this 2008 board had shrunk to 5.[23]
2009: 27, with 27 independent; yet the 27 "board members" listed were the advisory board.[24]


Science shift, from sanity to...

2006 and earlier, Science Insights

The association used to publish Science Insights, on science matters. It was edited by the late John Wenger, and before that, by Patricia Hausman. From the Form 990 filings, it appears to have stopped publication by 2007.

2003, Excoriating intelligent design

In a now-defunct publication called Science Insights , Paul R. Gross wrote a 2003 piece pointing out that intelligent design was bogus science.[8]

2003, Concerns about Bush censorship of climate scientists

John Wenger wrote in 2003, "Waxman...makes factual charges that, if true, are extremely serious and troublesome...if they are true, they document a shocking breach of the public faith."[9]

2010,2011: Dismissing climate science

As of 2010[25] and 2011[2], writings appearing under the byline of Association president Peter W. Wood have attacked sustainability, climate science, and recent efforts exposing the PR push to cast doubt on climate science.

Association member and climate scientist Kerry Emanuel objected to this effort in mid-2010, noting that "A true test of NAS’s commitment to reason and scholarship is whether it is prepared to take on an attack that this time is mounted largely from the Right." [26]

Affiliate chapter heads' views: agreement with their President, or silence

A question arose: do the association's affiliate chapters share the national group's president's views on condoning and acting to protect outside political influence on climate science?

50 affiliate chapter heads were emailed[27] an invitation to share their views on their president's climate writing. By 4 days later, three had weighed in on this topic, all to express agreement:

"I couldn't agree more with Dr. Wood's approach to the issue of global warming as presented in the academic environment." - Asia, AZ;
"I am sympathetic to Mr. Woods' view. The problem of ideology posing as science is real as is the demonization of those who do not accept revealed truth from the left." - Glamser, MS;
"Peter Wood's commentary ... is a lucid, brief, compelling and altogether logical essay." - Geshekter, CA.

Minorities and civil rights

1990, U of Texas course covering civil rights

"The association first gained notoriety in 1990 at the University of Texas, at Austin, where N.A.S. faculty succeeded in blocking the inclusion in an English course of civil rights readings that had been proposed in response to increasing racial and sexual harassment on campus. During the controversy, the faculty group also encouraged a right-wing student group to lead an ultimately successful campaign to defund the university's Chicano newspaper."[13]

199?, U Mass minority enrollment

As of 1996, "More recently, the N.A.S. released an update of a 1994 report urging the University of Massachusetts system to abandon its goal of expanding minority enrollment to 20 percent of the freshman class, and to end a program that encourages the hiring of women and minorities. The report focuses on SAT scores to claim that minority students are below average, and therefore unfairly take the place of qualified white students. The University of Massachusetts chancellor countered that the practice is based on the philosophy that "the class should reflect the diversity of seniors graduating from the high schools."[13]

1996 survey, back to basics

"The N.A.S. has also come out with a 1996 survey, heralded in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by William Simon, president of the Olin Foundation and major N.A.S. backer. The survey asserts that the decrease in core requirements at the top 50 universities and colleges since 1914 threatens "the common frame of reference that...has sustained our liberal, democratic society," according to N.A.S. president Stephen Balch. The N.A.S. fixes much of the blame on student activism in the 1960s "when the rage in higher education was a radical libertarianism based on notions of 'relevance.'" [13]

Contact details

As of July 2009:

1 Airport Place, Suite 7
Princeton, NJ 08540-1532
Tel 609-683-7878

Former address

221 Witherspoon Street, 2nd floor
Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-683-7878

Articles and resources


  1. National Association of Scholars From the website of People for the American Way. Accessed July 17, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Peter Wood (2011-06-30). Bottling Up Global Warming Skepticism. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on 2011-07-14.
  3. 2009 Form 990
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Who We Are. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-11. “NAS is an independent membership association of academics working to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America’s colleges and universities.”
  5. NAS Membership Form. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-11. “NAS membership is open to all. This is a change as of October 2009. Before that NAS restricted membership to academics. We now encourage anyone who agrees with the principles we espouse to join.”
  6. Who We Are. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-11.
  7. Wilson, John (1996). The Myth of Political Correctness. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822317133. 
  8. Patricia Cohen (September 21, 2008). "Conservatives Try New Tack on Campuses", New York Times. Retrieved on September 22, 2008. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 David Stout (1995-07-21). B. R. Gross, 58, A Professor Of Philosophy -. New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-07-12. “The National Association of Scholars describes itself as dedicated to keeping outside political influences from tainting teaching and learning on campuses. Its predecessor organization, begun in 1982, was the Campus Coalition for Democracy, and Professor Gross was one of the organizers.”
  10. ROBERT McG. THOMAS (1995-08-21). Peter Shaw, 58, Literary Scholar Who Rallied Neoconservatives. New York Times. Retrieved on 2011-07-14. “At his death, he was chairman of the National Association of Scholars, a group he helped found in 1982 to oppose what he saw as an oppressive trend toward political correctness on college campuses.”
  11. Gross (then NAS national program director and treasurer) and Shaw (then NAS chairman) died in 1995 at 58, a month apart.
  12. Full Report Archive. People For the American Way. Retrieved on 2011-07-25. “Full Report Archive ... Buying a Movement 09/11/1996”
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Buying a Movement - Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics (pdf). People for the American Way (1996-09-11). Retrieved on 2011-07-09.
  14. Glenn Ricketts, phone conversation 2011-07-25
  15. Sarah Scaife Foundation Form 990s on ERI, accessed 2011-08-04
  16. Teaching American History. Department of Education. Retrieved on 2011-07-29. “Funding for the Teaching American History (TAH) grant program was decreased in the FY 2011 full-year continuing resolution completion. As a result, there are sufficient funds only to support continuation grants for the TAH program to current grantees. Therefore, we will not be making any new awards in FY 2011 for this program.”
  17. Peter Wood (2009-01-12). A Tribute to Stephen H. Balch. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-11. “A Tribute to Stephen H. Balch”
  18. People. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-11.
  19. B Nelson Ong. Professional Development International, Ltd.. Retrieved on 2011-07-12. “Dr. Ong serves as the national secretary of the National Association of Scholars and is a member of both its board of directors and the executive steering committee.”
  20. Latzer, Mathys, Mulroy, in email
  21. Mary R. Lefkowitz, pers. comm.; she also recommends FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) as meeting the need that NAS was originally created to address.
  22. Eugene W. Hickok (2006-05-21). More Children Left Behind. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2011-07-11.
  23. 2008 Form 990, page 6
  24. 2009 Form 990, page 6
  25. Peter Wood (2010-03-16). Climategate Deniers. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-14. “Climategate Deniers”
  26. Emanuel did note that NAS printed his response "word for word". Kerry Emanuel (2010-07-19). “Climategate”: A Different Perspective. National Association of Scholars. Retrieved on 2011-07-10. “NAS stands at a crossroads: is it truly committed to upholding standards of objective scholarship and free inquiry untainted by political agendas, or is it merely a particular brand of political passion masquerading as high principle? If the former, it should stop attacking climate science and turn its guns against those who are politicizing it.”
  27. sent 2011-07-12 a.m.

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