Ashland U Rejects Objectivist Professor:

Ashland University, a church-affiliated school denied tenure to an Objectivist historian because he did not support the "Judeo-Christian tradition." A religious institution certainly has every right to enforce its ideology, but only in accordance with the contracts it signs with faculty. In this case, it appears that Ashland's academic regulations made it far from clear that the professor, John Lewis, was violating university policy. To make matters even more dicey, the university had accepted 100k in funding from an Objectivist organization to support the research of Lewis and another professor. In the end, Lewis was granted tenure, but agreed to resign from the faculty. Thanks to F.I.R.E. for alerting me to this story.

Per Son:
Interesting. I know that Prof. David N. Mayer has an appointment there and he is a bigtime objectivist. I wonder if he will walk out on that.
7.18.2007 4:42pm
John Robinson (mail):
I didn't know Objectivists did research?
7.18.2007 5:20pm
BladeDoc (mail):
Umm, I'm not in the academy but getting tenured and fired at the same time seems a Pyrrhic victory no?
7.18.2007 6:05pm
AK (mail):
They'd be on far better grounds if they just noted the obvious: that Objectivism is a load of garbage, and dismissed him on the grounds that anyone who falls for that tripe is too stupid to be a tenured professor.
7.18.2007 11:19pm
AK - I didn't study philosophy at all in school, but suspect that what you mean is that the version of Objectivism described by its critics is garbage. I'm not sure if that version is the same as that which students describe. When I've met people who froth at the mouth at the mention of Ayn Rand, they usually haven't read anything by her, and also seem to be angry about a caricature of her beliefs and stories. More angry than most thinkers get about ideas they disagree with. So I tend to question the reaction and seek the nugget of truth which is present in every philosophy. But please feel free to explain yourself. Yes, people call capitalism (and collectivism) tripe and garbage too.
7.19.2007 12:53am
Lewis may indeed be properly labeled here by his belief, but this makes me continue to worry about the academy. How much do profs conform to conventional campus "wisdom?" Would a neutral observer studying communism be labeled communist? Or only acceptable if he started out thinking that he was studying nonsense? It doesn't sound like most schools these days would have a problem with a professor who published a criticism of objectivism or even taught that viewpoint in a an overview or related class...
7.19.2007 1:01am
Mr. Underhill:
Objectivism? Ha ha. They should have refused to hire him on the grounds of it being an uncommonly silly "philosophy" most people grow out of by the end of middle school.
7.19.2007 10:05am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Note that he wasn't fired because the school objected to his ideology per se, they objected to the fact that it's an atheist philosophy that rejects the Judeo-Christian tradition. ANY philosophy with those attributes would apparently make one ineligible for tenure at Ash U.
7.19.2007 12:17pm
It's rare that AAUP and FIRE end up on the same side. For all of FIRE's good work in defending conservatives in academia, I have to wonder if FIRE would have defended the professor in question had he been left-wing instead of a Randian conservative. There have been numerous cases at religious schools in the last 4-5 years that FIRE has ignored.
7.19.2007 1:10pm
an (o)bjectivist:
Probably not, and that's ok. FIRE isn't a govt program and can pick and choose who it defends. More importantly, what's wrong with Ash U. discriminating in its hiring policies (so long as it doesn't receive govt aid)? Why objectivists are funding people to work there is the strange part... where's their due diligence?
7.19.2007 2:06pm
From what I can tell of FIRE's position is that they are for promotion of first amendment rights, especially speech rights, on campus, and that while many of their recent cases happen to be in defense of "conservative" victims, they are just as ready to defend "liberal" victims as well. It just happens that in the current atmosphere on most of today's campuses there are more "conservative" victims than "liberal" ones, hence the preponderance.

Apparently FIRE does not usually get involved in cases in private schools unless a school claims to be a free speech campus and then demonstrates otherwise. Many religious schools are quite up front that they are NOT free speech campuses, and FIRE will not get involved cases at these schools, since the students knew what they were getting into when they chose those schools. Perhaps that may account for some of the "numerous cases at religious schools in the last 4-5 years that FIRE has ignored"?

In this case, it appears that their involvement comes from the fact that the professor was apparently fired for doing his job! He was hired because he was an objectivist scholar (and it should not be surprising that he holds objectivist views), and this because the school was taking money which was earmarked for "objectivist research". One wonders what the school administrators were thinking when they chose to accept this money with these kinds of strings attached.
7.19.2007 6:04pm
theobromophile (www):
Objectivism? Ha ha. They should have refused to hire him on the grounds of it being an uncommonly silly "philosophy" most people grow out of by the end of middle school.

Except for corporate CEOs, who routinely list it among the top three books which most influenced them.
7.19.2007 8:32pm
I'll take Objectivism over the vacuous claptrap that is Feminism, Marxism, African Studies (whatever that is), etc....
7.19.2007 9:11pm
One can only be disappointed with the infantile and anti-intellectual tripe of John Robinson and AK. If you don't have a serious philosophic argument to make, just go to the ad hominem.

Somebody should do a psychological study of why it is that so many conservatives hate Ayn Rand in such an irrational way. They just seem to lose it and resort to name calling without addressing the arguments of her philosophy. Sure, some don't like the fact that she wasn't religous. There seems to be more, though. It may have something to do with the fact that Ayn Rand developed an absolute, certain, principled moral philosophy that demands of its adherents that they act morally all the time, whereas the neocons want a moral philosophy that is, well, less demanding, that allows for lots of wiggle room.

In the end, what they can't stand is the idea that one should actually live a principled life day-to-day.
7.20.2007 12:10pm