In 1993 Dr.
Richard J. Bishirjian visited with me and told of his vision for an internet
university which would teach traditional economic and cultural ideas. The idea
was that YorktownUniversity.com would offer a Master of Arts in Government at a
fraction of the cost of traditional brick-and-mortar schools but with a faculty
equal to those of the finest universities in the nation. I
enthusiastically supported the idea and personally invested in this for-profit
corporation. I disregarded the criticism others had for the idea, especially
after Bishirjian assembled an impressive faculty. Bishirjian asked me to serve
on the Board of Directors, which I also agreed to do.
To say that Yorktown nearly did not
succeed would be an understatement. Thanks to the sacrifices of Bishirjian and
his wife, who used every penny of their life savings to try to make this work,
along with Gilbert K. Davis, who is Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Yorktown
University has thrived. Davis is a well-known attorney and political figure in
Virginia. He continued to support Yorktown University when many others did not.
Initially the school could not secure accreditation. One would assume that the
Administration of President George W. Bush would have welcomed the emergence of
Yorktown, given the well-documented left-wing bias of the faculties of many
major universities. But entrenched, sometimes ideological, bureaucracy often can
be a stumbling block to positive change. The Department of Education repeatedly
hindered the accreditation of Yorktown. Bishirjian is a better man than I am, as
I would have given up long ago. It seemed to me that if accreditation did
not occur during the eight years of President Bush’s Administration, it likely
would not happen.
To my surprise Bishirjian recently sent
a notice to Yorktown’s investors that the school finally has received its
accreditation. Now it is officially a degree-granting university. Anyone can
take courses at this institution for a fraction of the cost of a traditional
graduate education. The school’s directors have been busy holding a series of
conference calls introducing the faculty to each other. During these calls
Yorktown is laying concrete plans for the fall semester. This is a dream come
true for many and I am proud to be associated with Yorktown. There are only a
handful of schools where traditional American political thought still is taught.
Now people all over the world will have access to the great ideas upon which
this country was founded.
How many times have you heard that in
the United States one man can still make an enormous difference? Yorktown
University is a tribute to that idea. Dr. Bishirjian is a first-rate tribute to
that idea; he deserves our praise and adulation. If you know of young people who
are not sure where they should pursue their graduate studies, point them to
Yorktown. Who knows? One day a graduate of Yorktown University may prove
that an internet-educated man or woman can be elected President of the United
States of America.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.