The Corner

Education

Wake Forest Faculty Throw a Tantrum

It’s a depressingly common story by now — supposedly “liberal” college faculty getting all hot and bothered over a non-leftist campus center funded by the Koch Foundation. The latest outburst is at Wake Forest, where the faculty senate has recommended extraordinary measures to curtail the work of Professor James Otteson and his Eudaimonia Institute. In today’s Martin Center article, Jenna Robinson looks at this nasty little fight.

Professor Otteson is a famous classical-liberal scholar. Among his books is The End of Socialism. While college professors can get away with espousing classical-liberal ideas (although they might get sneered at by “progressives”), when they do so with any money from the Koch Foundation, the Left erupts in fury. Last September, a $4 million Koch grant to the Institute was announced, but the Wake Forest faculty is demanding that the grant be rejected on the grounds that Koch money somehow undermines academic freedom and the university’s reputation.

Robinson explains:

Specifically, the Faculty Senate recommended freezing current hiring, canceling internal and external presentations, and even restricting the publication of any material to do with the Institute. Going forward, the Faculty Senate wants all of the Eudaimonia Institute’s academic decisions to be reviewed by an external committee — presumably so the committee can apply some sort of progressive litmus test to the Institute’s work.

There are leftist-funded centers at Wake Forest, but of course they elicit no complaints from these university “guardians.”

It’s as clear as anything can be that the academic Left just doesn’t like any expressions of sympathy for the free market and limited government, even if they might advance human flourishing, which is what the Greeks meant by “eudaimonia.” Any excuse to silence scholars who aren’t part of the “progressive” movement is good enough.

Stay tuned. We will keep on top of this.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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