Friday, May 13, 2011

College Fund

As Digby pointed out, the story about the Koch brothers basically telling Florida State University who to hire and fire with their massive donation is only shocking because they’re so blatant about it. Colleges and universities have always been deferential to big donors, and it’s not just by naming buildings after them. Any college development officer (i.e. fundraiser) will tell you stories about the strings attached to big donations, and some of them pretty strange. They say that as long as it’s legal and doesn’t violate the school’s policies — which can be flexible — they’ll take the money and run. It’s how they do business. Florida State University is just being shameless about it.

It also puts the lie to the notion that all colleges and universities are hotbeds of leftist/Marxist philosophy and packed to the gills with anti-capitalist professors who indoctrinate our precious children with communism and Che Guevara t-shirts. The Koch brothers are the norm, not the exception, and for every Volvo-driving Birkenstocked professor of wymyn’s studies and God-is-dead philosophy professor, there are two or three right-wing Randians at the college of business or law school. And when those impressionable college graduates get out into the world and launch their careers, who is going to have a larger impact on the day-to-day life of the average American; an MBA on Wall Street, or a guy with a PhD. in playwriting?

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Footnote: The University of Miami, a private institution, is so devoted to donors that they will name anything after someone who gives them a truly interesting sum of money. For instance, the Ring Theatre, so named in the early 1950’s because it is round, is now the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, not to be confused with the Alvin Sherman Family stage within the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, and the foyer, which is named for someone else. As the Old Professor once said, one day they’re going to have a ceremony honoring the naming of a door closer.