In an essay on the NAS blog, Glenn Ricketts proudly declares that NAS' principled opposition to all hiring or admissions preferences: “This means that faculty hiring, student admissions, scholarship awards or any aspect of the academic enterprise should be guided by individual merits without regard to racial, ethnic and sexual criteria, or any other a priori ascriptive criteria. That includes some recent proposals for giving preference to conservatives or to male undergraduate applicants. Nope, no preferences based on group identity however it’s defined, period. That’s been the NAS position since our founding in 1987, and we’re sticking to it.”
This claim of a principled position might be more plausible if it were actually the NAS position. It's not. Less than a year ago, the NAS published an exchange between me and NAS head Peter Wood, in which Wood endorses David Horowitz's proposal for political preferences for conservatives in the hiring of visiting professors. As far as I know, no one in the NAS has ever criticized this stand of affirmative action hiring for conservatives. Wood defended his claim with the absolutely absurd position that visiting professors aren't real faculty. As I pointed out, that's not true, and even if it weren't factually wrong, I'm appalled that Wood thinks politically-based hiring of anyone at a college should be acceptable.