I was wrong: it’s not just a Koch problem. The problem is much larger. It’s the selling-off of higher education to the highest bidder.
In Kentucky, the two major public universities—the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville—have been undermining the idea of the university since at least 2003, when BB&T Corporation and the BB&T Charitable Foundation pledged $2.5 million to the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics to
support a learning laboratory on capitalism, a speaker series, an annual student paper competition, and annual fellowship and research grant awards.
The original agreement included giving out free copies of Ayn Rand’s novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
This past November, BB&T donated another $500,000, which
will establish the BB&T Program for the Study of Capitalism, which will be headed by BB&T professor John Garen, who already teaches at Gatton. According to the new agreement, the program will “provide financial support for research, education and outreach programs to engage both the academic community and the public in a sustained examination of capitalism from economic, historical, legal and social perspectives,” according to a news release.
And, of course, we have the more recent donations by “Papa” John Schnatter and Charles Koch to Louisville ($6 million) and Kentucky ($12 million).
All of this is simply too much for lifelong Louisville resident and retired insurance executive Mike Gossett [ht: db]:
Since Greek antiquity of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, distinguished universities have been one of the last bastions for intelligent free inquiry and pursuit of truth. Herculean efforts go into striving for intellectual honesty and excellence in academic scholarship at least at credible institutions. And for good reason since it is critical and necessary to live up to a reputation deserving of both the large capital outlay and years of hard work invested by students to be “educated.”
Thus, one would think it would be unthinkable, even laughable for a university to do anything in terms of harming its academic reputation by debasing and/or cheapening its course offerings. One cannot even imagine Harvard, Yale or Princeton offering intellectual pursuits in astrology, palmistry, creationism, etc.
And yet, today, powerful special interests are afoot with less than honorable intentions that are brazenly seeking to change how people view certain pseudo academic course offerings that offer no intelligent scholarship but rather amount to sinister promotion of politicized extremist utopian economic propaganda. . .
Right-wing extremist libertarians, including local pizza magnate John Schnatter and billionaire businessman Charles Koch, who is shamefully known as a staunch supporter of extreme right-wing political candidates who actively fight against the economic interests of the working class and their families, are gifting millions of dollars to UK and U of L business schools in exchange for establishing so-called free enterprise programs of learning into their business school curriculums.
If that takes your breath away, consider also that complicit in this disgraceful public university gaff is BB&T Bank, a bank that obviously shares the same libertarian utopian worldview and is the chosen propaganda minister for the new centers of study or, more aptly, spin mills. . .
One finds no better example of what to expect from this new free enterprise program at U of L than a recent commentary in the Courier-Journal authored by a faculty member of the new center. The professor is actually referred to as a “BB&T Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise.”
For god’s sake, what buffoonery. A BB&T Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise? What’s next, a Looney Tunes Distinguished Professor of Politically Correct Cartooning at the U of L Art School. How about a Darryl Issacs Distinguished Professor of Ambulance Chasers at the U of L Law School. Or we could have a Pat Robertson “700 Club” Distinguished Professor of Elmer Gantry Televangelism in the Theater Arts Department. How about a Glenn Beck Distinguished Professor of Scorched Earth Politics in the Political Science Department. (Stop me, this is too much fun.)
Well, you get the idea. It’s obvious there might be just a tiny bit of conflict of interest and credible scholarship since this business instructor comes by his academic accolade of distinguished professor from a member of an Ayn Rand smitten bank and his article rife with affirmation of her nauseous egoist worldview.
Ah, nothing like principled, academic pursuit of truth and applied tenets of the scientific method. The same kind one might find, say, from academics in the science labs of tobacco industries or even the science and archeological academic inquiry at the Creation Museum. Oh, and let’s not forget that minuscule number of climate scientist that sell out to the highest bidder in return for discrediting the science of climate change in favor of the fossil fuel industry.