Academic freedom

Why are they letting him get away with this?

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

10 thoughts on “Academic freedom

  1. The university should turn down this pledge……. I think I have read something like this happening at LSU with the oil companies.

    In an unrelated note, rumors are circling in the West Georgia area that Newt Gingrich is reconsidering donating his papers to the University of West Georgia where he used to teach. The story goes that his fee-fees got hurt because the administration will not name a building after him.

  2. I’d be more impressed if he bought that privilege at a good school, not a joke party school like FSU.
    Anyway, “Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

  3. Here’s another one that’s currently flying a bit under the radar:

    States all over the country are taking a backdoor approach to killing teachers’ unions by ending the practice of “LIFO” (Last in – first out) for layoffs due to budget cuts. This practice is now mandated by law in most (maybe all? not sure…) states, but many state legislatures – in what sure seems like an orchestrated efforted – are working on bills to end the policy. That means any public school district would be free to fire its most experienced teachers if it needed to reduce its budget.

    Interestingly, an email that’s circulating here in PA in support of ending LIFO comes from the StudentsFirst PAC, an outfit that is supposed to be backing the”Vouchers for Charter Schools” frontal assault on public education. I guess that anything that weakens public schools is something they want to see…

  4. we’re getting a peek at what stage two looks like. after stage one, where governors cut funding for public universities, wealthy patrons swoop in to rescue the schools with generous grants. of course those grants come with strings…

    academia is the one place where the left is strong in the u.s. it’s sure to be the next target.

  5. BB&T bank has been doing this for several years. They give $1 million dollars to schools to set up a program to have a course that teaches Ayn Rand and the virtues of capitalism against the vices of socialism. They give a free copy of “Atlas Shrugged” to each graduate of the business school. Its real. They have one of these at my university (

    Back around the late 70’s, after a hundred years of whining about the liberal left in the colleges, they realized that they could pay college teachers to teach anything they want, as they can pay news reporters to write anything they want. Once you have accumulated enough money, you can buy anybody you want to vote for anybody you want and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

  6. So, Ideology Teaching to Spec does not result in schools or departments losing accreditation?


  7. Killing public education has been a fundamental policy of the Anti-American, anti-democratic conservative corporatists since the beginning of democracy. Keep ’em stupid and you get the Tea Party. Allow them knowledge and they may figure out who’s fucking them.

  8. $1.5 million is awfully cheap. Were the school trustys who approved this working street corners before they were hired?

  9. Well, the Koch brothers really only need to spend 1.5 million to spread the Libertarian/Galtian philosophies to young minds. I think there is an underground that spreads that stuff around on campuses already. Shoot, I read “Atlas Shrugged” one summer semester myself. REALLY BORING! I mean, really, this underground must be effective in making young minds think they are intellectuals and give the young minds the tools to persuade others to think these “intellectuals” are the smartest people in the room……… Look at Alan Greenspan……

Comments are closed.