Organizers of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund had aspired to make of their new program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a nationwide campus model for advancing more free market ideals and ideological diversity.
But a faculty committee, reports Inside Higher Ed, is now complaining that
· portions of the agreement would have restricted funds to research designed to reflect certain points of view
· donors were given control over matters traditionally left to academics
· the agreement to accept the center was made without faculty consultation and
· many details were kept secret until recently.
In response, Chancellor Richard Herman has agreed to do back to the drawing boards and renegotiate the arrangement.
James Vermette, an investor who was one of the founders of the center, denies that the original agreement sought to favor some views above others, and our own Anne Neal, a member of the advisory board for the capitalism program and president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, stated that “it goes without saying that the principle of neutrality is central to academic research. Donors cannot condition their gifts on preordained conclusions, and any language that suggests otherwise should be modified.”
Neal also doubts that departments and programs at Illinois are held to the same standard, citing “ideological terms” in the African American Studies and Research Program at Illinois, and pointing out that the women’s studies program presumes that people should “integrate feminist theory into their professional work and everyday lives.”
The odds are, as Neal opines, “that the committee’s concern about ‘ideological predispositions’ goes only one way — and that its problems with the Academy on Capitalism, underscored by its repeated, snide footnotes on the benefits of Sweden’s state-run economy — expose its own ideological predispositions rather than a genuine, consistent concern about a free marketplace of ideas.”
It will be a great loss to UIUC and the nation if left-leaning faculty succeed in eliminating or colonizing the Academy on Capitalism.