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uh, what exactly is that "Karl Marx" professor, a professor of?


Posted by michael strangeways | March 24, 2008 2:33 PM

They don't have to take the money.

Posted by ahava | March 24, 2008 2:38 PM

What a badass Mr. Allison is. Every point he makes in the article is valid, and he's totally within his rights to request that his money go to something he believes in (it's called standing up for your values, folks...). I'd probably do the same thing. Deal with it, you whinning communist hippies: like everything else, universities are businesses, too.

In a perfect world, Ayn Rand's philosophy would already be required reading for young adults in any institution of higher learning. Mr. Allison should be applauded for his courageous lease he's doing his part to push America forward.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | March 24, 2008 2:54 PM


Posted by 108-77 | March 24, 2008 2:54 PM

They don't have to take the money. But if I were a professor there I would be extremely pissed off. Ayn Rand is to a university what a pacifist is to the Marine Corps. And I understand the Karl Marx room point quite well. Few universities would be up for building a room devoted to Marx's works given their ideological content, so why the fuck should there be a room for a lesser ideological thinker? Universities are free inquiry, not indoctrination.

Posted by Jay | March 24, 2008 2:55 PM

And by "whinning," of course, I meant "whining."

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | March 24, 2008 2:55 PM

#3: Case in point. See kids, this is what an fully indoctrinated person looks like.

Posted by Jay | March 24, 2008 2:56 PM

I don't know what UNC is worried about. All they have to do is make Atlas Shrugged required reading in a course entitled "Money and its Effects in Academe." The final exam will have questions like "How much do you think it's worth to have to have read Atlas Shrugged?"

Posted by Easy | March 24, 2008 2:59 PM

Simple - create a course called Doorstop Novels of the Twentieth Century. Serve it up right after Finnegan's Wake and before Musil's A Man Without Qualities.

Posted by kinaidos | March 24, 2008 3:02 PM

But both Finnegan's Wake and A Man Without Qualities have their merits, and repay study. Not true with Rand. You'd learn a lot more reading Jackie Collins, who at least knows a thing or two about pacing and characterization.

"In a perfect world, Ayn Rand's philosophy would already be required reading for young adults in any institution of higher learning." Ayn Rand didn't have a philosophy; she had a mental disorder.

Posted by Fnarf | March 24, 2008 3:08 PM

@1 - he's a professor of Rovian Theology.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 24, 2008 3:09 PM


"Indoctrinated" mean with common sense and reason? Guilty as charged.

Saying that Rand's values are counterintuitive to those of a university (which you implied with your 'pacifist/Marine' comment) is one of the least educated statements I've ever heard. Did you even think that statement through in your haste to click POST? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | March 24, 2008 3:11 PM

Interesting. I used to work at BB&T, which is a very conservative bank.
...Anyway, #4 is correct. UNC, which is in Chapel Hill, UNCC is in Charlotte.

Posted by Tony | March 24, 2008 3:15 PM

@8 made me laugh. only problem is no one would sign up for the course.

Posted by arduous | March 24, 2008 3:23 PM

@12: I don't know if you've read any of the other anti-Rand posts here, but if not, I'll let you know, its probably not worth wasting your time arguing about her on the Slog.

It's unclear if a lot of people here have ever read anything she wrote or condemn her out of hand, but either way save your time and your frustration for a venue that might actually listen.

Posted by Dawgson | March 24, 2008 3:27 PM

Me! Me! I've read The Fountainhead. All the way thorough. I'll listen. Promise. Tell me why I should read Atlas Shrugged. Please?

Posted by elenchos | March 24, 2008 3:39 PM

So have I: I read The Fountainhead all the way through. One of the most painful (and longest) experiences of my life. The woman simply could not write; and she had about as much understanding of human relationships as your average LaRouchie. But seriously, it's the terrible writing that sticks in the mind.

Posted by Fnarf | March 24, 2008 3:44 PM

just stick the book in a comparative lit class and read atlas shrugged and then read notes from the underground and let the students make up their own mind where they fall.

"It's going to make us look like a rinky-dink university," UNCC religious studies professor Richard Cohen said Thursday after UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois told the faculty council about the gift. "It's like teaching the Bible as a requirement."

and i don't know what the hell that is about. just because you have to include a book on a list doesn't mean you have to agree with it. you could include the bible in a comparative religions class where you read the koran, the torah, and the bible and see how all three share a lot in common. heaven forbid!

it sounds to me more like these academics don't like having some rich guy say they should include a book in order to get millions of dollars.

if they were smart, they'd take the money, and then build a curriculum whereby any thinking student could make their own value judgment on the matter.

i mean... isn't that the whole point of education?

Posted by some dude | March 24, 2008 4:14 PM

Education existed long before the university was invented. Teachers existed. You could go to school to learn a job or become a priest. The point of this new thing they called a "university" was that you got a bunch of professors together and didn't tell them what they had to teach. Outsiders didn't control them; they had academic freedom. That's a university.

So telling a professor that they have to include Ayn Rand does kind of miss the point of a university.

Posted by elenchos | March 24, 2008 4:24 PM

The "Ayn Rand School for Tots" - from parody to reality.

Posted by Nicole | March 24, 2008 4:49 PM

12: Rand is a hack, a poor philosopher and a shitty writer. To me, it's pretty easy to see why Rand doesn't belong in a University. Her novels read like a "how not to write a decent novel" manual, and her objectivist "philosophy" is simplistic narcissistic, sophistic and egotistical bullshit masquerading as common sense.

What value could an Ayn Rand reading room possibly have to a University, other than as a tool to indoctrinate students to Objectivist philosophy (which is pretty much a cult of personality)? If I professor wants to assign her novel for whatever crazed reason, that's perfectly fine. If I were teaching a course on 20th century political satires and allegories, I'd probably assign "Atlas Shrugged" myself, albeit contextualized by the gag reflex it inspires in me. But a reading room? Compulsory reading assignments? Fuck that shit. Is it really necessary to torture students with her writing?

Imposing books based on financial contributions stands against the very idea of universties. But of course most randroids don't really believe in anything outside the profit or power motive.

Posted by Jay | March 24, 2008 4:51 PM

I've read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, and We The Living.

The human product of her ideas is the most horrendous thing about writing -- people use her ideas to justify their own greed and selfishness (no, not the Rand version of selfish), instead of finding inspiration to be the best that they can possibly be as a conscious member of our society.

It's sad that so many greedy fucked up people have been provided a handbook to new and better justifications to screw over even more people.

Posted by Dan | March 24, 2008 4:54 PM

"about *her* writing"

Typo in that in the second sentence there.

Posted by Dan | March 24, 2008 4:56 PM

Fucked her.

Posted by Frank Sinatra's Reanimated Corpse | March 24, 2008 6:22 PM

If I was on the UNC Board of Regents,T the Atlas Shrugged course should be a three-quarter, year-long sequence. During Fall Quarter, the class would read the book in its entirety. For Winter Quarter, the class will be subjected to repeated listenings of Rush's Moving Pictures LP, at terrorist-torturing volume, non-stop for the entire ten weeks of the quarter. Spring Quarter, I'm not sure. Maybe we'll force the class to stare at a portrait of Ronald Reagan until they finally go insane? A little help here?

Posted by Jeff Stevens | March 24, 2008 6:36 PM

What would be great is if the university agreed to the deal but made the reading required in a class on critical thinking, etc., in a way that would be extremely critical of her ideas. I'm sure there's some way to have it both ways.

Posted by David E. | March 24, 2008 6:47 PM

Ok, I know that I'm taking a risk even getting involved in this thread, given my open Ayn Rand-bashing and art-stabbing history here. But the real issue is this: no donor can mandate a professor's syllabus in a real university or college. Parallel: if some idiot from the Discovery Institute were to offer to donate a pile of cash provided the university getting it gave Intelligent Design its own course, that university would be a laughingstock if they were fool enough to take the money.

Posted by Bill | March 24, 2008 6:48 PM

Moving Pictures is one of the ten best rock'n'roll albums ever. The first nine notes of "Limelight" are sublime.

Posted by Big Sven | March 24, 2008 6:48 PM

Its no coincedence that someone who has a million dollars to donate to a University is a fan of Ayn Rand.

Posted by Mikeblanco | March 24, 2008 7:27 PM

Maybe you guys could put a dollar at the tip jar at your counter culture coffee shop and they'll let you leave a copy of the Village Voice there.

Posted by mikeblanco | March 24, 2008 7:29 PM


This is a kind of adulteration, parallel to what Jonothan Golob describes. Parents want the prestige of a university education, but they don't like having their ideology undermined. So they send their kids to Bob Jones "University" or whatever. It looks like a number of schools took the money, and some agreed to put in Ayn Rand.

You can sell the fake university education for a while, but eventually the word becomes diluted and people look harder for the mark of a real university education.

Posted by elenchos | March 24, 2008 7:45 PM


One! Million! Dollars!

Wow! Altruism sees Objectivsim's one million and raises $24 million.

Posted by elenchos | March 24, 2008 7:56 PM

@29 - Yeah, it's not. Makes you wonder what her fans are doing right, no?

Your jealousy that this guy has that kind of money to give away is SO transparent. Go project somewhere else.

Posted by Ayn_Randian | March 24, 2008 8:30 PM

I always thought Rand was the atheist side (the Bible being the other) of the justification coin right-wing nut jobs use to screw over anyone who ain't them.

Really, the only difference in methods is instead of "Jebus says O-tay! Gimme gimme gimme!", Randites say "I thought of this myself! Gimme gimme gimme!"

That being said, if dude wants to toss his money at you, go ahead and take it. Like most religious texts, there are a few good points surrounded by a lot of craptacular homilies and narrative. Public universities have religion departments; offer the course as an elective, and offer it to the professor that hates her the most.

Posted by drewl | March 24, 2008 8:30 PM

Before I step in it here, I'm wondering -- if a university accepts a donation that comes with a catch like this one, does the university have the power to dictate to a professor, "You *will* teach this course, whether you like it or not"?

Should that be the case, I can understand why a professor would balk at the idea.

And, really, in today's economy, is one million dollars such a tempting donation that a university would grab for it, even if it meant teaching a course in Intelligent Design, Homeopathy, or some other make believe?

Posted by Dorothy B. Tyler | March 24, 2008 8:43 PM

How about a Jackie Collins Room? Or a Barbara Cartland Room?

And "Valley of the Dolls" would be a much more informative book with much more relevant life lessons.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | March 24, 2008 8:58 PM

required texts aren't uncommon. in recent years, some universities have had novels that all incoming freshmen are required to read. so the professors have to teach it.

i don't dig rand, but i would think that a smart prof could teach the course and include the rand text while making it interesting as a contrast to other novels.

so what's the big deal? the school can do a lot with a million dollars or whatever.

Posted by some dude | March 24, 2008 10:20 PM

UNC Charlotte isn't a rinky-dink university?

Posted by CP | March 24, 2008 10:43 PM

Somewhere, Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard are laughing their asses off.

Posted by Becca | March 25, 2008 12:11 AM

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