The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

January 21, 2019

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Milione, E. Victor
Lee Edwards - 12/11/12

E. Victor Milione was the guiding force of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for thirty-five years, from 1953 through 1988. As executive vice president and then president, Milione initiated ISI’s most important programs, including the Weaver Fellowships, the Intercollegiate Review and other publications, the campus clubs and lectures, the seminars, the summer schools, and the regional offices. He oversaw the steady increase of the institute’s annual budget from a miniscule $12,000 in its first year of operation to just under $1 million in his final year.

Under his leadership, ISI forged enduring relationships with students, professors, trustees, and donors that enabled the Institute to survive the apathetic fifties and the revolutionary sixties and attain significant influence in the receptive Reagan years. Through all the ups and downs, it was Vic Milione who ensured that ISI stuck to its mission of educating for liberty, of helping students and professors to acquire the knowledge and understanding of the values and institutions necessary for a free society to endure.

Born in Penfield, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, Milione attended public and private schools and served in the air force during World War II. He graduated from St. Joseph’s University in 1950 with a B.S. in political science. He worked for Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System before meeting in 1953 the libertarian author-journalist Frank Chodorov, who persuaded him to become the first campus organizer of a new youth organization—the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (the name was changed to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 1966).

Although not a trained political philosopher, Milione more than held his own in correspondence and conversation with the prominent intellectuals associated with ISI. He became known for providing apt quotations from thinkers and writers such as Richard Weaver, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Jacob Burckhardt, Jacques Barzun, and John Henry Newman.

On ISI’s tenth anniversary, newly installed President Milione stated that liberty could only be maintained if the people “accept individually the responsibilities” that liberty imposes. ISI’s primary emphasis was on youth, he explained, because as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “Every fresh generation is a new people.” Whenever he was asked for the answer to the problems of the academy—whether the radicalism of the sixties or the political correctness and postmodern nihilism of the nineties—Milione always had the same answer: “stand firm upon the truths, standards, and institutions of our culture that are time-tested and of proven worth.”

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