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June 18, 2008
Battling Diversity at the University of Chicago
In a perfect example of Edward Bernard Glick's scenario, an outspoken, hostile but decidedly minority (so far) group of professors at the University of Chicago are protesting against the following proposal from other professors to name a new research center:
The Milton Friedman Institute, proposed by faculty members who included three Nobel Prize winners in economics, is intended to attract visiting scholars who will conduct research on topics related to economics, business and law. It will promote workshops, seminars and lectures.
And just why are the dissident professors -- none of whom are Nobel Prize winners yet --protesting naming an institute after a Nobel Prize winner, a noted thinker and researcher of free market economics whose ideas were successfully utilized by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and a host of leaders in formerly socialist South American and European countries?
In an Orwellian statement
... to U. of C. President Robert Zimmer, 101 professors -- about 8 percent of the university's full-time faculty -- said they feared that having a center named after the conservative, free-market economist could "reinforce among the public a perception that the university's faculty lacks intellectual and ideological diversity."
Got that? Suppression leads to "intellectual and ideological diversity." Only liberal professors residing in an isolated ivory tower could sincerely belch such twisted logic. And make no mistake about it, the University of Chicago is an isolated ivory tower situated in the city's relatively affluent Hyde Park neighborhood surrounded by crime ridden neighborhoods carefully, but not always successfully, kept out.
Listen to the liberal arts professors whine at the dire consequences of being associated with such an outstanding individual.
"It is a right-wing think tank being put in place," said Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religions and one of the faculty members who met with the administration Tuesday. "The long-term consequences will be very severe. This will be a flagship entity and it will attract a lot of money and a lot of attention, and I think work at the university and the university's reputation will take a serious rightward turn to the detriment of all."
Hmmm but its often "serious" leftward reputation is not a detriment as is this denial of different ideas.
"I don't think any institute of any educational institution should be so strongly aligned behind a single ideological program," said U. of C. music professor and department chair Robert Kendrick.
Perhaps music just isn't ideological.
"For many people who travel around the word, the university has had a pretty bad reputation that is tied to the Chicago School and economic principles that Milton Friedman advocated," said Yali Amit, a U. of C. statistics and computer science professor. "We don't think it's a great idea to strengthen this reputation."
Thatcher and South America and numerous Nobel Prize winning economics professors apparently constitute "a pretty bad reputation" in Amit's part of the world, which is apparently a closed liberal one.
Cowed by these closed minded academics, university administrators stress the proposed center's impartiality and non partisan bent.
[Provost] Rosenbaum said the center will not push any particular point of view.