The South/education: Fighting the Brain Drain

The South was the "Sahara of the Bozart"—mediocre, stupid, lethargic. So insisted Supercynic H.L. Mencken. Even Virginia, the "most civilized" state in the South, was an "intellectual Gobi or Lapland," where education "had sunk to the Baptist-seminary level; not a single contribution to human knowledge has come out of her colleges in 25 years."

Since Mencken published his notorious essay in 1920, many oases have bloomed in that Sahara, among them the present-day Universities of North Carolina, Texas and Virginia as well as Duke, Vanderbilt, Rice and Tulane. Nevertheless, when indices of excellence...

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