While the nation's established universities struggle with closing budget gaps, maintaining ethnic studies departments, confronting student debt, and simply staying relevant, one new start-up aims to fill the gap: [Glenn] Beck University. The unaccredited online institution, formally launched Tuesday, charges $9.95 for one month of streaming courses or $74.95 for the year. Bloggers are entertaining themselves by rifling through the vague syllabus, the professors, and even the motto. Liberal bruiser Keith Olbermann leads off on the latter:

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  • 'University' Is a Stretch  Brian Montopoli of CBS News explains. "To be clear, calling it a university is more than a stretch: It is actually simply an opportunity to watch online classes taught by three men, among them the controversial David Barton."
  • About That David Barton  Davenoon at Lawyers, Guns and Money gives a colorfully unflattering portrait of the professor whose arguments were criticized by Senator Arlen Specter as "proceed[ing] from flawed and highly selective readings of both text and history." Davenoon calls Barton "a conveyor belt for millennialist pseudohistory whose lack of relevant academic credentials made him a perfect fit for one of the teams selected by the Texas Board of Education to revise the state's social studies curriculum. (His contributions to the process were, it seems, scrupulously dishonest.)"
  • One Traditional Professor  Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed takes a more gently-worded look at Beck U's other professors. "Two of the three original faculty members (all called professors) are not traditional academics, but one is: James. R. Stoner Jr., a professor of political science at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge...the LSU scholar has strong scholarly and conservative credentials." Jaschik connects this background to Beck's desire to correct the leftward bias he perceives in the academy.
  • The Courses  The description provided by Beck University gives the broad strokes: "Through captivating lectures and interactive online discussions, these experts will explore the concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity and show you how they influence America's past, her present and most importantly her future." Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones provides a joke list, inviting reader suggestions. Some highlights:
    • Theories of Self and Other in the Autobiography of Ronald Reagan
    • Semiotics of Tricornered Hats
    • Mythology 101: Fossils
    • Presidential History From Harding to Coolidge
    • Oath Keeping