ERIC Number: EJ895385
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
"Universities, the Major Battleground in the Fight for Reason and Capitalism"
Jones, Gary H.
Academe, v96 n4 p34-37 Jul-Aug 2010
At the turn of the twentieth century, the presidents of Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago issued declarations bolstering institutional resistance to attempts by external agencies to influence a faculty member's stance on issues of the day. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) emerged some fifteen years later out of the climate of those times, and one of the AAUP's first official documents, the "1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure," addressed the same concern. This article discusses the recent donations from the charitable arm of BB&T, one of the nation's largest banks, which have raised the issue of external influence anew, sparking concerns about academic integrity and the role of the faculty in decisions about accepting gifts that come with curricular or other strings attached. At the center of the concerns about these donations is the requirement that objectivist Ayn Rand's novels be taught in special courses extolling capitalism and self-interest. In belated response, a handful of universities across the country, including several in the Southeast, where BB&T was founded, have tightened institutional policies governing the acceptance of gifts. These new policies are certainly a step in the right direction: the BB&T gifts raise questions of both substance and procedure. Faculty members at several universities did not even know of the gifts or that BB&T's donations had curricular implications until after the agreements were signed. Determining the exact stipulations involved in agreements between donors and university foundations is difficult, because the agreements are not considered public documents and are typically kept private. Larger gift amounts range from several hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars or more, doled out over five to ten years, and often contain a provision for matching funds. Stipulations range from the seemingly benign--funding for faculty and student research and support for a speaker series on capitalism, leadership retreats, and the establishment of Ayn Rand reading rooms--to the sharply contentious.
Descriptors: Research, Social Systems, Academic Freedom, Integrity, Universities, College Faculty, Political Attitudes, Tenure, Novels, Educational Finance, Ethics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A