Carnegie Mellon University and Hillsdale College have both chosen to celebrate an influential person this year. Their choices couldn’t be more different.

Michael Cook writes at The American Spectator:

A Tale of Two Colleges

Like CMU, Hillsdale is experiencing a relatively prosperous moment in its history — but for different reasons. The college enrolls 1,450 undergraduates, compared to 1,000 twenty years ago. The school is oversubscribed, and many more young men and women than the school can accommodate wish to enroll there. Hillsdale has attracted a very large and very loyal group of private donors, and the school distinguishes itself by providing its students with something that has largely vanished from the landscape of American higher education: an authentic, traditional liberal arts curriculum.

It will come as no surprise, then, that Hillsdale College has chosen to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass. Born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, Douglass fled north to freedom in 1838. Eventually, he became a celebrated orator, and a leading figure in the abolition movement. He embraced, as did the founders of Hillsdale College, the revolutionary principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. All men are created equal. All men are endowed, by operation of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, with certain unalienable rights, including liberty.

During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass became friendly with, and an informal advisor to, President Abraham Lincoln. Douglass also became a friend of Hillsdale College. He was twice an honored guest of the college. His first visit took place in January 1863, a few weeks after the final issuance of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. On that occasion, Douglass delivered an address entitled “Popular Error and Unpopular Truth.”

It is rather more surprising — indeed it is jarring — to learn that Carnegie Mellon University, a school established and sustained to this day by exemplars of American capitalism, would choose to mount a year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. This celebration, denominated “Marx@200,” takes the form of a series of lectures and symposia, sponsored (ironically enough) by the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.