Koch Brothers Buy Professorships at Florida State, I Can Has Academic Freedom?

This went down in 2008, but this is the first that I heard of it via BoingBoing: Billionaires role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions – St. Petersburg Times. Apparently, Charles G. Koch, tea party and anti-union hobbyist, pledged $1.5 million to Florida State University in exchange for influence over the hiring of economic professors as well as for the creation of objectives that must be met if FSU wants to keep the cash. It is unfortunate that FSU administrators sought the further erosion of academic freedom of their faculty by taking this Trojan Horse from Koch. It undermines the economic faculty’s ability to shape their department’s direction, but it also creates a precedent that administrators will likely want to replicate in other departments. Granted, the sciences already accept these kinds of deals with the Devil where the corporate sponsor has final say over the release or publication of acquired research data. The case with Koch, however, is different in that it directly targets faculty decision making and academic freedom. Have similar deals gone down at other universities? Let me know in the comments.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

Reach him by email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu.


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