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Should America's richest citizens be able to purchase the faculty hiring rights at state universities?
In other words, in a democratic society, should one rich person decide who teaches at a state university and what the curriculum of that state university will be?
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."
Florida State is a state university, funded with public money. What about academic freedom?
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.
Is buying the rights to choose a university's faculty members, you know, standard operating procedure?
Most universities, including the University of Florida, have policies that strictly limit donors' influence over the use of their gifts. Yale University once returned $20 million when the donor demanded veto power over appointments, saying such control was "unheard of."
Jennifer Washburn, who has reviewed dozens of contracts between universities and donors, called the Koch agreement with FSU "truly shocking."
Said Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on industry's ties to academia: "This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing."
Read the entire linked article....it's really hard to believe....but it's true.
Buying the rights to propagandize students in a state university's economics department in order to...
advance their belief,..... that government taxes and regulations impinge on prosperity.
Maybe Operation Rescue, the radical forced pregnancy lobby, should be permitted to purchase faculty hiring rights and determine the curriculum for a state university's pre-med department.
Think of the many possibilities.
Exxon-Mobil could own our university's geology, energy and scientific research departments......paying for the right to screen faculty and determine what is and what is not taught. Goldman Sachs could buy the rights to all the universities finance and business departments.....choose the instructors and streamline the courses to fit their preferred biases.
Is this simply more evidence that if a citizenry wants to maintain their democracy.....they must control the wealthy few who would take it away from us?
Or is this evidence of the way forward for a modern republic? A republic where he who has the gold makes the rules....just as the divine "market" intends.
I am interested in hearing what readers have to say about this.