Sponsored by the Right Wing
These days, rich conservatives want a lot more than their names on university buildings in exchange for big donations. The Koch brothers recently endowed two economics professorships at Florida State University in exchange for a say over faculty hires. Banker John Allison, long-time head of BB&T, has donated to 60 universities in exchange for their agreeing to teach Ayn Randâ€™s Atlas Shrugged--some agreements even include the outrageous stipulation that the professor teaching the course â€śhave a positive interest in and be well versed in Objectivism.â€ť
The economic crisis has opened American universities to ever more brazen--and at times decidedly strange--attacks on the hallowed principle of academic freedom. Conservative efforts to shape hearts and minds on campus, however, are far from new. Like anything in a capitalist society, academia is a place where people with money fight for power, and take their advantage where they can. Indeed, the effort to mold higher education--which the Right has long caricatured as a hotbed of revolutionary agitation--in the image of the establishment has been central to the rise of modern conservatism.
â€śConservatives have been funding such efforts for a while, but usually fairly quietly and without the rough touch of the Koch brothers,â€ť says David Farber, a professor of history at Temple University and author of The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism.