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Marshall University teaching Atlas Shrugged to business students

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Marshall University and BB&T joint press release on the new BB&T Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism at the Lewis College of Business at Marshall University. The program will include teaching Atlas Shrugged for the moral foundations of capitalism.

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For further information, contact: Office of University Communications

Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090

Voice: (304) 696-NEWS Fax: (304) 696-3197

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153

BB&T awards $1 million gift to Marshall University College of Business

Huntington, W.Va. - The BB&T Charitable Foundation announced today the contribution of $1 million to establish The BB&T Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism at the Lewis College of Business at Marshall University.

BB&T West Virginia Group/State President Phyllis Arnold said a key component of the BB&T Center will be to provide students with a solid grounding in the workings of capitalism and free market forces. Components of the Center's curriculum include but are not limited to:

  • An upper level course focusing on the principles set forth in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.
  • A Lecture series known as the BB&T Lectures with speakers advocating public policies that promote economic and political freedom.

"There is overwhelming evidence that capitalism produces a higher economic standard of living," said Arnold. "John Allison, our chairman and chief executive officer, passionately believes there needs to be a deeper understanding of the moral defense of capitalism and its causal relationship to economic well being."

"We find that many students that graduate with a business degree, while understanding the technology of business, do not have a clear grasp of the moral principles underlying free markets. It is with great pleasure that we make this contribution to enhance the educational offerings of the University and look forward to seeing the successes that result from Marshall's business students, not just in the next semester, but in the years to follow," Arnold said.

According to Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, president of Marshall University, Cal Kent, vice president for Business and Economic Research, will serve as director of the Center. Kopp said the University is thrilled to incorporate this Center into the Lewis College of Business.

"This College produces hundreds of graduates each year, all with the knowledge and skills to enjoy successful business careers," Kopp said. "We are confident this Center will enhance the business acumen of our students and broaden their educational foundations of the fundamentals in free market capitalism. We greatly appreciate BB&T's contribution to Marshall, which will establish this important center."

"This is a very exciting opportunity," Kent said. "It will better inform our students regarding the benefits of the market economy and will enable us to better prepare our graduates for the workplace."

With $132.6 billion in assets, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corporation is the nation's 14th largest financial holding company. It operates nearly 1,500 financial centers in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

For more information, please visit www.bbt.com or www.marshall.edu.

A group of activist professors has mounted a PR campaign to oppose the university's decision to accept the $1 million donation from BB&T, claiming it violates "academic freedom". Never mind that the university is willingly accepting the donation for a program it wants to include, run by a professor who wants to do it. The leftists, who are notorious for suppressing views they don't like while exploiting their tenured positions with a blank check to control what a university teaches, don't think a donor has any right to decide what his own money will be used for, which they claim is "unethical".

Here is their spin promoted in the name of "ethics" by a slanted article in Inside Higher Ed:

Buying a Spot on the Syllabus

Some professors at Marshall University believe that the institution has crossed an ethical line by accepting a gift that requires that a specific book — Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged — be taught in a course.

Full article

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From what I read in the link at the bottom of the page this has more to do with preserving the autonomy of the University to determine what is taught rather than the financial gift givers.

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Well done BB&T! I only wish they were in my state :rolleyes:. They would surely have my business.

/start rant

Rush actually brought up a good point the other day. No matter how many times you hear the left swear to the idol of Free Speech, they turn right around and scream and whine if anything is said that does not agree with their view; similar to the Orwellian statement, "All pigs are free, some are just more free than others", the liberals whine, "All have the right to freedom of speech, our speech is more free than yours." This is especially funny when they attack conservatives (and people like BB&T, Ayn Rand, etc.) as being "fascist" who are "against free speech", when Rush found that in fact it is these (conservative) people who actually promote freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Conservatives cry out, akin to Voltaire, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Disgusting liberal swine.

/end rant

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From what I read in the link at the bottom of the page this has more to do with preserving the autonomy of the University to determine what is taught rather than the financial gift givers.

What you read is the spin on behalf of leftist activists distorting the facts and attempting to morally intimidate people into going along with them. Read the joint press release by the donor and the university stating what they are doing. No one is dictating anything to the university. The donation was willingly accepted by the university for a new center within the business school that it wants to establish, run be a professor who wants to do it. The article quoted activists who have nothing to do with it, many of them not associated with the university at all. The left is notorious for denying academic freedom themselves as they prohibit views they don't like from being taught. They exploit their tenured positions to control what universities can teach, accustomed to having a blank check to do whatever they want in the name of "academic freedom", then posture in the name of "ethics" as they attack the right of a donor to decide what his own money will be used for in limiting it to recipients who agree with his purpose. The existence of an independent "Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism" teaching ethical views in support of a business school within the university is driving them crazy because they can't control it to turn it into another attack on capitalism, and they have nothing better to argue with than smears likening it to "neo-Nazis ... saying that you have to teach Mein Kampf". Inside Higher Ed should be ashamed of itself for promoting that campaign in a biased article on behalf of the agitators trying to morally intimidate people into going along with them. Members of this Forum especially, ought to be able to see through that not take at face value the phony "conclusions" expected to be swallowed.

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A group of activist professors has mounted a PR campaign to oppose the university's decision to accept the $1 million donation from BB&T, claiming it violates "academic freedom". Never mind that the university is willingly accepting the donation for a program it wants to include, run by a professor who wants to do it. The leftists, who are notorious for suppressing views they don't like while exploiting their tenured positions with a blank check to control what a university teaches, don't think a donor has any right to decide what his own money will be used for, which they claim is "unethical".

Here is their spin promoted in the name of "ethics" by a slanted article in Inside Higher Ed:

Buying a Spot on the Syllabus

Some professors at Marshall University believe that the institution has crossed an ethical line by accepting a gift that requires that a specific book — Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged — be taught in a course.

Full article

Huh... So, let me get this straight: If someone donated money for a course to be taught on the Koran, say, or "The Economics of Karl Marx," or "The Tragedies of Shakespeare," it would be unethical to insist that the students be taught from, respectively, the Koran, Das Kapital, or the Works of William Shakespeare? And note that Adam Smith hasn't come under fire here. Where are the Feminists and their detestation of Dead White Males? If these "intellectuals" cared a rip about "ethics" and "ethical lines," they might want to start by stating theirs explicitly. This is an interesting example of a package deal: The use of "ethical line" to package an emotional dirt clod of moral rectitude and indignation coupled to a word that is supposed to stand for the Good. And there's the threat in there that somehow, requiring a book be read as part of a course might be construed as illegal.

These people draw ethical lines in chalk wherever it gives them a momentary advantage and carry erasers with them wherever they go ("what line?"). [end of rant]

But the real story is the wonder of a business school actually teaching rational Ethics. So many have destroyed the very concept of Ethics by tying it to the heavy rock of Altruism and Pragmatism, so that it sinks to the bottom and they can go on out into the world without giving it another thought.

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The existence of an independent "Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism" teaching ethical views in support of a business school within the university is driving them crazy because they can't control it to turn it into another attack on capitalism, and they have nothing better to argue with than smears likening it to "neo-Nazis ... saying that you have to teach Mein Kampf". Inside Higher Ed should be ashamed of itself for promoting that campaign in a biased article on behalf of the agitators trying to morally intimidate people into going along with them. Members of this Forum especially, ought to be able to see through that not take at face value the phony "conclusions" expected to be swallowed.

Members of this Forum especially, ought to go over to http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/02/27/marshall and leave a comment at the bottom of the article.

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Some of the Marshall faculty members are opposing Atlas Shrugged on the grounds that the book is immoral and unChristian!

Full article.

The university is in West Virginia. We are seeing echoes of Ashland University in its treatment of John Lewis.

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These people draw ethical lines in chalk wherever it gives them a momentary advantage and carry erasers with them wherever they go ("what line?"). [end of rant]

Now that is a great line! :rolleyes:

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I've submitted a comment, but it looks like there's some verification to do first before it will show. This is what I posted:

The donation is to create a BB&T Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism, not the Center for the Advancement of Straw Men Against Capitalism, which is exactly what it would become without some insurance against Marxist professors (and let’s not kid ourselves, the university has become the new home for Marxism).

If the professors are interested in ethics, as they claim, they should be interested in honesty. Honesty means not faking reality, it means accepting the facts as they are and not as you wish them to be. If Capitalism is so immoral, if you don’t want your students “poisoned” by it, then refute it! Present the case for Capitalism and refute it with facts and reasons. Attempting to intercept and keep from students a knowledge of what Capitalism is – and the philosophic nature of Capitalism is at the heart of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – is nothing short of fraud. Don’t pretend to be crusaders for truth and then protest at being “forced” to teach it!

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Just posted on The Parthenon. I wish the comments would display in descending order though, the more recent ones are at the bottom.

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Huh... So, let me get this straight: If someone donated money for a course to be taught on the Koran, say, or "The Economics of Karl Marx," or "The Tragedies of Shakespeare," it would be unethical to insist that the students be taught from, respectively, the Koran, Das Kapital, or the Works of William Shakespeare? And note that Adam Smith hasn't come under fire here. Where are the Feminists and their detestation of Dead White Males? If these "intellectuals" cared a rip about "ethics" and "ethical lines," they might want to start by stating theirs explicitly. This is an interesting example of a package deal: The use of "ethical line" to package an emotional dirt clod of moral rectitude and indignation coupled to a word that is supposed to stand for the Good. And there's the threat in there that somehow, requiring a book be read as part of a course might be construed as illegal.

These people draw ethical lines in chalk wherever it gives them a momentary advantage and carry erasers with them wherever they go ("what line?"). [end of rant]

Brilliantly stated!

These people are hypocrites. They exclude what they don't want taught, it's as simple as that. The Koran, hey no problem, Das Kapital, sweet with them, but Atlas Shrugged, why that’s too “radical”. It is radical of course, but “radical” is not their problem.

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I’m kind of angry that the school would “balance” a course on Capitalism by teaching Marxism along with it. As if students don’t already know all about Marxism from their pinko professors?? However the important thing is that Ayn Rand’s work has finally started to break through the academic blockade in the schools, and I’ve been very impressed with BB&T’s support for the spread of Objectivism.

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I'm kind of angry that the school would "balance" a course on Capitalism by teaching Marxism along with it. As if students don't already know all about Marxism from their pinko professors??

Has anyone seen a description of what the course is? That would determine whether reading Marx is appropriate for the course or if it is supposed to focus on the justification of capitalism. The AP writer, not the professor, characterized the use of Marx as "balance":

Kent says he will balance Rand's strongly individualistic ideas with those of other authors...

As a counterpoint to Rand, Kent will present his senior-level, optional class with the works of communist Karl Marx, among others.

An education for business students should be "balanced" by covering different views so the students will understand what they will be confronting, but not in the sense of a course on mathematical physics being "balanced" by including numerology, let alone a promotion of it. I suspect that the kind of "balance" to be provided in the course coverage will not be the way the anti-Atlas Shrugged activists want socialism promoted, and could therefore be of educational value to counter the usual presentations elsewhere.

However the important thing is that Ayn Rand's work has finally started to break through the academic blockade in the schools, and I've been very impressed with BB&T's support for the spread of Objectivism.

Even without a fully objective treatment of the course subject matter, it will be like the spread of Aristotelianism slipping in through Acquinas.

Clearly, for all their spin and smears about "academic freedom", "ethics", and "industry-backed philanthropists dictating what's taught in classrooms", the leftists are motivated to keep Ayn Rand out of the university. That comes through very loudly in all of these articles and in the online comments supporting the leftists.

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Here's an AP wire story about the Marshall controversy.
Officials at BB&T refused interview requests from The Associated Press, instead providing a lengthy statement which read, in part:

"'Atlas Shrugged' ranked second only to the Bible in terms of influencing readers, but there is practically no discussion of (Rand's) philosophy in the academic community. We have tried to encourage that discussion by supporting professors who have an interest in Rand. We believe this is a natural part of the concept of academic freedom."

Is the full statement available publicly?

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I suspect that the kind of "balance" to be provided in the course coverage will not be the way the anti-Atlas Shrugged activists want socialism promoted, and could therefore be of educational value to counter the usual presentations elsewhere.

It could be, I agree, and hopefully that's the intent of the course. It would be amazing if Capitalism and Socialism were presented as either/or, as moral opposites, rather than "extremes" on a continuum demanding "compromise". It's not the presentation of Marx that worries me, but the idea that by teaching his ideas students would be expected to reach a more "balanced" view of Capitalism. That's obviously not what BB&T had in mind.

I'm a bit cynical about college professors, and it would be great if this one proved to be the exception to the rule.

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I’m kind of angry that the school would “balance” a course on Capitalism by teaching Marxism along with it. As if students don’t already know all about Marxism from their pinko professors?? However the important thing is that Ayn Rand’s work has finally started to break through the academic blockade in the schools, and I’ve been very impressed with BB&T’s support for the spread of Objectivism.

The student's don't know "all about Marxism". They know only the interpretations of Marxism held by their "pinko professors" and the other academic intellectuals who ram them down their throats day-in and day-out.

I think a comparative course, in which students are able to read for themselves cover-to-cover (and with as little editorial interjection on the part of the professor as possible) . . . say . . . Das Kapital and Atlas Shrugged, would be a marvelous opportunity. The contrast alone should prove eye-opening. If this course at Marshall has anything resembling this kind of honest, primary source comparison about it, it could be a very good thing indeed -- Miss Rand's ideas will certainly rise to it triumphantly, even as Marx's can't.

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The student's don't know "all about Marxism". They know only the interpretations of Marxism held by their "pinko professors" and the other academic intellectuals who ram them down their throats day-in and day-out.

I think a comparative course, in which students are able to read for themselves cover-to-cover (and with as little editorial interjection on the part of the professor as possible) . . . say . . . Das Kapital and Atlas Shrugged, would be a marvelous opportunity. The contrast alone should prove eye-opening. If this course at Marshall has anything resembling this kind of honest, primary source comparison about it, it could be a very good thing indeed -- Miss Rand's ideas will certainly rise to it triumphantly, even as Marx's can't.

This was my sense of it too. Teaching Ayn Rand side by side with Karl Marx shows the winner clearly.

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The student's don't know "all about Marxism". They know only the interpretations of Marxism held by their "pinko professors" and the other academic intellectuals who ram them down their throats day-in and day-out.

It's Capitalism that has been misrepresented in schools, not Marxism. Students today only know of Capitalism as a system where the rich exploit the poor; they have been thoroughly programmed to accept socialism as moral and to regard its failures as issues of management. They may not know where the bromides they repeat come from, and in that sense they may not know Marxism, but they are certainly familiar with the ideas implicitly.

I think a comparative course, in which students are able to read for themselves cover-to-cover (and with as little editorial interjection on the part of the professor as possible) . . . say . . . Das Kapital and Atlas Shrugged, would be a marvelous opportunity. The contrast alone should prove eye-opening. If this course at Marshall has anything resembling this kind of honest, primary source comparison about it, it could be a very good thing indeed -- Miss Rand's ideas will certainly rise to it triumphantly, even as Marx's can't.

I agree.

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You will find a thoughtful analysis of the controversy, with links to many articles written about it, in this article by Craig Biddle from The Objective Standard blog.

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More from Craig Biddle:

Monday, March 31, 2008

More on the Propriety of Donations with 'Strings'

Posted by Craig Biddle at 5:30 PM

The latest attack on BB&T’s educational donations—and on academic freedom—comes by way of this Charlotte Observer editorial, which opens with the obvious truth that “A public university's faculty and administration—not donors—should have the final say on the content of courses.” The editorial closes with the obvious truth that “it’s wrong to strike fund-raising deals that suggest a university's curriculum can be shaped by the highest bidder.” Unfortunately, what lies between those two undeniable truths is a series of non sequiturs, non-principles, and nonsense having nothing to do with the factual nature of BB&T’s grants.

Entire article

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