Betsy Speicher

Founders College News

36 posts in this topic

Founders College issued a web-based press release (here) describing their Fine Arts program and including a video of the teaching method and content.

There was a news item headlined "College at historic Berry Hill ready for first class" in the Danville (VA) Register & Bee on September 6, 2007 and you can read it here.

On September 9, 2007 there was a syndicated Associated Press article you can read here.

"Founders College Begins School Year with Ten Students" was featured on the WSLS NewsChannel 10 web site on September 10, 2007 (here).

A much longer news article which includes quotes from representatives of Founders College and discusses their development plans was in the Lynchburg News & Advance on September 11, 2007 (here).

There was a 2-minute news story about the first classes at Founders on TV on WDBJ, Channel 7, in Roanoke, VA that will be available for viewing for a short time (here). It even includes a few words from a member of THE FORUM who teaches psychology there.

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Betsy this news I think is great! Fantastic! 10 students on the one hand is disheartening, but on the other hand it's a completely surreal that this college has made it, is an actuality, will work just like any other actual college in the States, and unlike so many other projects has truly made it from pipe-dream into reality! It can only go up from here, in my view.

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Dear Betsy:

Thank you for continuing to post updates on Founders College. Although we are not an objectivist college, our rational model for higher education has been a source of inspiration, curiosity and skepticism for many Objectivists. Your readers can now view our entire opening ceremonies at http://www.founderscollege.com/OpeningCere...mingvideos.html

When we first launched our website a year ago, I was shocked to discover the large number of Objectivists who were outraged by the very thought of Founders College. Since that time, I’ve learned to take ill-informed speculation in stride, but at first, I was quite confused and discouraged. Your husband’s objectivity, enthusiasm and willingness to give us a chance provided me with a great deal of the moral support I needed in order to complete this mission.

As I rode over the rails of my own Rearden Metal last weekend, I wished Stephen could have shared in the celebration. I wanted you to know that the program distributed at our opening ceremonies ended with the following special acknowledgement:

Finally, a posthumous thank you to Dr. Stephen Speicher, whose lone, reasoned voice in a wilderness of doubt provided encouragement and fortitude when it counted the most. He would have loved this day.

I hope that you and your FORUM bloggers will enjoy the video, and visit us sometime soon at Founders College.

Sincerely,

Tamara K. Fuller

Owner, Chairman & CEO

Founders College Education LLC

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Speaking personally, while I've been among the skeptics, having more concretized information about the current status of FC, including the faculty, makes me more optimistic about its prospects. I hope that it grows and provides a much needed alternative to conventional modern madness.

I do remain disappointed that FC is "not an objectivist college", and as the CEO of the college, you're the logical person to ask several questions, if you want to respond:

1) What would define an Objectivist college?

2) Would you hire faculty who teaches subjects/subject matter that is inconsistent with the principles of Objectivism?

3) If the faculty is comprised of Objectivists (which seems to be largely or entirely the case) and they are in fact using the principles of Objectivism, what's wrong with saying so?

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Speaking personally, while I've been among the skeptics, having more concretized information about the current status of FC, including the faculty, makes me more optimistic about its prospects. I hope that it grows and provides a much needed alternative to conventional modern madness.

I do remain disappointed that FC is "not an objectivist college", and as the CEO of the college, you're the logical person to ask several questions, if you want to respond:

1) What would define an Objectivist college?

2) Would you hire faculty who teaches subjects/subject matter that is inconsistent with the principles of Objectivism?

3) If the faculty is comprised of Objectivists (which seems to be largely or entirely the case) and they are in fact using the principles of Objectivism, what's wrong with saying so?

I haven't been involved in this issue before, but it would seem that if one were to label one's college as an Objectivist college, one would be teaching and advocating Objectivism, in much the same way as the OAC. This would probably limit the appeal of the College to the general public. More importantly, it would most likely kill any chance of getting a government sanction to operate within it borders.

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Thanks for posting Tamara and please accept my congratulations to your accomplishments along with all the others that have worked to bring the vision of Founders College to reality. I also look forward to raising a glass in celebration of your achievements many more times.

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When we first launched our website a year ago, I was shocked to discover the large number of Objectivists who were outraged by the very thought of Founders College. Since that time, I’ve learned to take ill-informed speculation in stride, but at first, I was quite confused and discouraged. Your husband’s objectivity, enthusiasm and willingness to give us a chance provided me with a great deal of the moral support I needed in order to complete this mission.

I too would like to extend my congratulations to Tamara and all the others who have accomplished so much (especially in such a relatively short period of time). The commitment you all have demonstrated to your principles and values in the face of irrationality and injustice by Objectivists (against which I railed, especially on NoodleFood) is an inspiration to all of us. I look forward to reading of your progressive successes in the future as you continue pursuing your excellent goal.

You have my persistent well wishes and now my earned regards for Founders College. clap.gif

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When we first launched our website a year ago, I was shocked to discover the large number of Objectivists who were outraged by the very thought of Founders College. Since that time, I’ve learned to take ill-informed speculation in stride, but at first, I was quite confused and discouraged. Your husband’s objectivity, enthusiasm and willingness to give us a chance provided me with a great deal of the moral support I needed in order to complete this mission.

I too would like to extend my congratulations to Tamara and all the others who have accomplished so much (especially in such a relatively short period of time). The commitment you all have demonstrated to your principles and values in the face of irrationality and injustice by Objectivists (against which I railed, especially on NoodleFood) is an inspiration to all of us. I look forward to reading of your progressive successes in the future as you continue pursuing your excellent goal.

You have my persistent well wishes and now my earned regards for Founders College. clap.gif

What Brian said.

Tamara Fuller,

I never thought I'd live to see something like Founders College come to pass. You've no idea how grateful I am just to know that it exists. For that alone, I thank you.

I'll add that I wish I'd been a beneficiary of your curriculum.

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I haven't been involved in this issue before, but it would seem that if one were to label one's college as an Objectivist college, one would be teaching and advocating Objectivism, in much the same way as the OAC. This would probably limit the appeal of the College to the general public. More importantly, it would most likely kill any chance of getting a government sanction to operate within it borders.

Funny, I wonder who bought those 30 million copies of Ayn Rand? (Plus over 100x the number of CD-ROMs than one Objectivist professional originally predicted.)

Who *does* the College appeal to, if not those looking for an alternative to modern madness, but who also don't want to go to one of many Christian schools? Are they the kind of people who hate Ayn Rand and Objectivism? Somebody explain how that works, I'm not seeing the logic.

Re: government sanction, I don't buy it. As pessimistic as I am about American culture today, I do not think that it's so degraded that an explicitly Objectivist school would not be licensed anywhere in the country. Some places are so statist that it would be unlikely or undesirable (Maine comes to mind.) But it's a big country and those 30 million books went somewhere. By that logic, no high school in America would promote the Anthem or Fountainhead essay contests; but in fact, thousands of even *public* schools post the notices of the contests year after year in growing numbers, and it isn't as though everybody there is too stupid to understand the books are radical. Objectivists now routinely speak on national television and talk shows, and articles and op-eds are published in major newspapers. Objectivism is rapidly becoming *mainstreamed*.

Christianity has put its name on, and influenced, countless schools in this country, explicitly dominating the curriculum; everybody knows what a Christian school implies. I just think that it's about time that the opposite philosophy had at least one school explicitly in its name - reality and morality are on its side. I prefer a ratio of 10,000/1 rather than 10,000/0; the first is big, but the latter is even more daunting. :D

My basic position is simple. Objectivism is the world's greatest philosophy and it's something to be proud of promoting by name, in itself and explicitly as an alternative to both religion and Kantianism. It is not something to hide or disguise, and it would be a great assist to marketing to the best, most rational students who've read Ayn Rand. (Just the self-descriptive name of the Ayn Rand Institute serves as marketing itself. That was surely deliberate.)

That said, if FC is an Objectivist school in everything but name, it will still be a good thing.

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I haven't been involved in this issue before, but it would seem that if one were to label one's college as an Objectivist college, one would be teaching and advocating Objectivism, in much the same way as the OAC.

I should have explicitly addressed this point in my previous post, though it's implicit throughout all of it.

A school adopting Objectivism as its explicit philosophy does not imply that the subject matter is just Objectivism!! Yes, there's a need for specialized classes in the philosophy, but it's the *application* of the ideas that is the most relevant here, which boils down to using the right epistemology (and also derivatives, ethics and politics.)

An Objectivist physics professor should not teach quantum mechanics with the notion that contradictions exist at the most fundamental level of nature and we should "just accept it"; the empirical observations that he notes, and the math he teaches, will be the same, but the philosophic underpinnings and implications will certainly differ. Or such notions as literal singularities, etc. I mean, see the late Stephen Speicher's posts on those subjects. He studied the same books and the same physicists, but the right philosophy makes a big practical difference in interpretation of observational facts and mathematical equations.

An Objectivist history professor can teach the same historical facts as a Marxist, but their interpretations of those facts will be light years apart.

An Objectivist English professor should focus on great literature, on what makes it great, etc., even if the same books have been used by other professors. Etc. etc. etc.

The whole point of recognizing the importance of philosophy is that it touches EVERYTHING, especially cognitively/educationally. That doesn't mean that one can/should teach particular subjects without a deep grasp of that particular subject; it means that, of the many people who *do* know that material, you find ones who are also rational thinkers with a knowledge of Objectivism. In 2007 I do not think that that's as hard to do as some assume, and it will get easier over time.

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I agree with the spirit of Phil's post, but not with a few points.

A school adopting Objectivism as its explicit philosophy does not imply that the subject matter is just Objectivism!! Yes, there's a need for specialized classes in the philosophy, but it's the *application* of the ideas that is the most relevant here, which boils down to using the right epistemology (and also derivatives, ethics and politics.)
An undergrad education is supposed to prep the student for his goals, whether a profession or further studies in grad school. There is a place for learning Objectivism, and ARI/OAC does a good job from what I've seen. As Phil says, the two are not identical. But I think there's more to an education than just epistemology or thinking methods; there's also a large amount of concrete facts to learn. The study of a field isn't reducible to philosophy.
An Objectivist history professor can teach the same historical facts as a Marxist, but their interpretations of those facts will be light years apart.
Actually, what a professor considers relevant depends on his philosophy. Should one focus on the ideas of the American revolution, or the struggle of labor unions? George Washington or Che? Edison or some average blue-collar worker? The ideas of Jefferson, or his romantic affairs? Historical eras (such as the Renaissance) or the events of a typical day for some Native American? In this way, the choice to include or omit certain facts is affected by philosophy, just as is the interpretation of those facts.

Aside from that, I want to reiterate the point that philosophy is very important, but it isn't the only thing to study. A college run by Objectivists has the potential to provide a broad and deep improvement over contemporary colleges. This isn't the same thing as a program that teaches Objectivism, which is what one would get through ARI and OAC. Both have their place.

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I haven't been involved in this issue before, but it would seem that if one were to label one's college as an Objectivist college, one would be teaching and advocating Objectivism, in much the same way as the OAC. This would probably limit the appeal of the College to the general public. More importantly, it would most likely kill any chance of getting a government sanction to operate within it borders.

Funny, I wonder who bought those 30 million copies of Ayn Rand? (Plus over 100x the number of CD-ROMs than one Objectivist professional originally predicted.)

Who *does* the College appeal to, if not those looking for an alternative to modern madness, but who also don't want to go to one of many Christian schools? Are they the kind of people who hate Ayn Rand and Objectivism? Somebody explain how that works, I'm not seeing the logic.

Then why aren't there thousands enrolling in OAC? Let's not forget, that it takes time to build up a reputation. I sure that FC will accomplish that. Although there are Christian universities, they attract people by being top-notch educational institutions. For example, TCU's mission and core values says nothing about Christianity.

----------------

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Then why aren't there thousands enrolling in OAC? Let's not forget, that it takes time to build up a reputation.

This may be redundant from my second post, but one reason that there aren't thousands enrolling because the number of people wanting to be philosophers is a tiny fraction of those who need to be rational and to use Objectivism in other fields. Also, I seriously doubt that there are enough Objectivist philosophers (distinct from Objectivists in other professions) to be able to handle even 100 serious students, today. I don't think it would be difficult to have a situation where more applied than could be accepted. Even in a fully rational society I would not expect to see nearly as many philosophers/philosophy professors as professors in engineering or the sciences.

It would be nice to live to see the day when there are hundreds enrolled in such programs, though.

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An Objectivist history professor can teach the same historical facts as a Marxist, but their interpretations of those facts will be light years apart.
Actually, what a professor considers relevant depends on his philosophy. Should one focus on the ideas of the American revolution, or the struggle of labor unions? George Washington or Che? Edison or some average blue-collar worker? The ideas of Jefferson, or his romantic affairs? Historical eras (such as the Renaissance) or the events of a typical day for some Native American? In this way, the choice to include or omit certain facts is affected by philosophy, just as is the interpretation of those facts.

Exactly. A teacher should be a subject-matter expert but how they present the facts and integrate those facts is conditioned by their philosophy; to me, that's the meaning of "An Objectivist school" (at any level), not whether Objectivism is explicitly taught in a philosophy course, though at high school on up, that makes sense too.

Either John Galt or Robert Stadler could teach, with expert subject-matter grasp, almost any level of physics, from grade school through Nobel Prize territory; but who would you want as a teacher?

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I remember reading all the complaints, from the fact that FC isn't an Objectivist school, to the concern that the world wasn't ready for even a school as Objectivist as FC. There were those who "know something about it" that say the school is bound to fail (for whatever reasons given). I'll just say right out front that I don't have a clue about starting a college. I've done no research into the matter. I know nothing of teaching methods, except that those practiced in progressive schools, whether government or private, are erroneous and detrimental. I know that I would have given almost anything to be offered such a curriculum when I was going to school.

What I do know is that these people are starting a business. They are taking an enormous risk; I don't pretend to know just how great, but I know it involves their lives and fortunes, just like our Founders (although, thanks to our Founders, I think we can forget about hanging for failing :D). Whether it is everything I would have it be doesn't bother me much--I admire the vision, and the courage it has taken to act on the vision. This college represents an enormous step forward. That fact alone makes me smile. As I said above, I never would have guessed that I would see such a place within my lifetime, and I am enormously grateful. It is like the young man on a bicycle who drew inspiration from the fact of Roark's work. I wish them all good fortune.

Phil, I understand your impatience. I've felt it, and feel it. There is damned little about the world that is as I would have it. But I've learned that the world is not going to move any faster because of my frustration. The world will only move forward one individual at a time--and now there's a place that didn't exist before, where some of them can go to learn how to do so. Those who want to go forward in the science of philosophy have OAC, where I trust that they will be learn about Objectivism in a way no school could or would manage right now.

Frankly, I don't care if the whole world is Objectivist. I only care that individuals be reasonable. If FC is successful, the world will have many more reasonable people in it.

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I do not know the specific demands on the founders of Founders College. But I know what it takes to start with a knew idea, put it into the market and then make it work. I know what it takes to convince customers that your ideas, although radical, will work if given time. I know what it takes to have no customers your first day and worry about how you are going to pay back the loans. I know what it takes to look at your finances at 1:00 A.M. the day your rent is do and wonder how you are going to come up with the extra one hundred dollars needed to pay your rent. I know what it is like when a client finds out that you are an atheist and then quits while taking their friends and relavtives with them, even though they recognize that you are moral and they have made amazing progress. I also know many other hardships that those that never take a huge risk will never know.

But, I do not consider any of those things that I mentioned to be the most important. What is important is that something GOOD has been created and it has the chance of being something GREAT. If we know it is fundamentally good we should be supporting it with everything that we can not condemning it. Cheer, clap, scream hooray, drink a toast, what ever one does it should be to recognize the achievement of something sublime.

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What I do know is that these people are starting a business. They are taking an enormous risk; I don't pretend to know just how great, but I know it involves their lives and fortunes, just like our Founders (although, thanks to our Founders, I think we can forget about hanging for failing :D). Whether it is everything I would have it be doesn't bother me much--I admire the vision, and the courage it has taken to act on the vision. This college represents an enormous step forward. That fact alone makes me smile. As I said above, I never would have guessed that I would see such a place within my lifetime, and I am enormously grateful. It is like the young man on a bicycle who drew inspiration from the fact of Roark's work. I wish them all good fortune.

Wonderfully stated, Janet. While I think my comments have real-world practical consequences to future success, I'm encouraged by the current status and faculty of Founder's College and some very recent changes that occurred which I think are positively important. I also wish them good fortune and growing success. And I hope someday they explicitly relate themselves to Objectivism. :D (If merited.)

I do not know the specific demands on the founders of Founders College. But I know what it takes to start with a knew idea, put it into the market and then make it work. [...]

Ray, I agree - I've been there. Starting a new college is clearly a risky and difficult proposition. I suspect that their greatest work lies ahead of them.

But, I do not consider any of those things that I mentioned to be the most important. What is important is that something GOOD has been created and it has the chance of being something GREAT. If we know it is fundamentally good we should be supporting it with everything that we can not condemning it. Cheer, clap, scream hooray, drink a toast, what ever one does it should be to recognize the achievement of something sublime.

As I mentioned in my reply to Janet, I originally had one particular reason to be quite skeptical of the success of the College (and it actually wasn't the issue of not being an explicitly Objectivist school), but that reason has apparently gone away. I am also a "show me" kind of guy; until very recently there was little to actually observe in terms of concrete results. Now it appears to be a good start, and I hope they'll continue to grow from that start.

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There are very significant issues raised in this thread, but for the time being, I HIGHLY recommend watching the streaming video of the Opening Ceremony.

And be sure not to miss the closing part -- the solo by Jennifer Gellings (sp?) of the Bocelli song "Because We Believe" -- wow!

Hard to say what the future holds, but I can't help thinking Ayn Rand would be proud of what they have done already.

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A very sad update on what would seem to be the deteriorating state of affairs at Founders College in today's News Record:

The News Record: School of Hard Knocks

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I agree with Vespasiano, in that it seems things are deteriorating. But, to start a company from nothing and also one that goes against the current, I am not surprised with the difficulties they are are going through. I do not personally know Tamara Fuller so I do not know what stress she is under. I also do not know why Gary Hull left. But, I know what type of stress one accepts when starting a business, and would like to send my best regards to her (and the others that are still there) in overcoming all the difficulties of a start-up.

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A very sad update on what would seem to be the deteriorating state of affairs [...]

That's an understatement. It's clearly a completely hopeless meltdown.

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I cannot speak to all the things in that article, as I don't have all the details on them. There are a number of things I could speak about, but I don't think it would be appropriate. I'll suffice it to say not everything in that article is true, although I'm sure the reporter(s) were simply indicating what had been said by sources.

One thing that has been fascinating, although often in a negative way, is to see what gets put out to the public vs. what I have seen firsthand or learned about through reliable sources. It is almost as though many people, including some Objectivists, want Founders to fail.

So many people complain about academia, identify it as the primary source of irrationality in the culture, and allegedly revel in the idea, let alone the reality, of the creation of a college that is meant to answer that. Sadly, this is not the case.

I am leaving this Thursday for South Boston. My first class begins Monday, January 28th at 9:50 a.m.

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My one question is how this was ever going to work if the tuition was going to be over $30,000 a year. That just seems to be way too high of a price to ask someone to pay for an experimental university still in the making that is not yet accredited.

This is very sad news, and I hope it doesn't cast Objectivism or it's associated movement in a bad light.

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I cannot speak to all the things in that article, as I don't have all the details on them. There are a number of things I could speak about, but I don't think it would be appropriate. I'll suffice it to say not everything in that article is true, although I'm sure the reporter(s) were simply indicating what had been said by sources.

Scott - my comment was based on the content of the article, which does all, objectively, add up to one bleak picture if it's substantially accurate. Of course difficulties are to be expected; but not being able (or willing) to pay bills and employees (that's a very big deal), having a large number of faculty/staff leave, an already tiny student body halved, broken promises, are a very inauspicious start. Actually, I'm surprised and disappointed by the reported extent of the problems. I'd rather be reading that enrollment is increasing and all involved were eagerly looking to the future.

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