All too often these days I open the newspaper and become quickly convinced that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But this little snippet (April 14, a Bloomberg story) really got my goat:
The University of North Carolina (which was a reputable institution, the last I checked) has accepted a $1 million donation from BB&T Corporation (an investment bank), that came with one tiny strong attached:
The University must agree that Ayn Rand’s libertarian novel, Atlas Shrugged, will be required reading for UNC business students. Apparently two other universities (Marshall University in WV and Johnson C. Smith University, also in NC) signed similar deals.
Corporate funding of universities is lamentable and insidious, and always carries an implied sacrifice of true independence. But this is nauseating.
Worse yet, the Bloomberg story on this hardly even touched the tip of the ethical iceberg that this type of arrangement creates. The main debate is over whether or not Rand’s writing is truly worthy of unversity-level inquiry (“Rand could not write her way out of a paper bag,” scofs one English prof contacted by the reporter for comment). No-one even asks if it’s appropriate for corporations to be dictating curriculum on the basis of their paltry, incomplete donations.
What billionaire will endow a university to teach business students Marx, Keynes, Kalecki, or Minsky? (Some might actually want to learn about Minsky, I suppose — to guide their short trading strategies.)
Excuse me now while I go and throw up.
- Globe and Mail on higher education in Canada (October 9th, 2012)
- Time to Rethink The Way We Fund Higher Education (October 9th, 2012)
- Student Employment Rate Sinks (July 6th, 2012)
- Canada’s Self-Imposed Crisis in Post-Secondary Education (June 7th, 2012)
- Seven reasons why you should support the Quebec students’ call for low tuition fees (May 31st, 2012)