Florida State is among the victims of a savage budget attack from the state government; in their case $100m in the last four years. The football team is doing fine and making money, so there’s no real crisis at hand. But a university is a large and complicated enterprise, with dozens of specialized activities affecting narrow interest groups, and two of these – research and teaching – are feeling some real hurt. If they get in serious trouble, it might reflect badly on the team, maybe even tap its revenues a bit, and that would be a real shame.
The economics department, though, is thinking outside the boxes of academic freedom and free intellectual inquiry, perhaps a light for other departments, and has sold the right to choose faculty to the Charles Koch Foundation, ensuring Koch the freedom of a direct line into the heads of students in at least eight courses. Over at the National Review, a veto over hiring has a softer, fuzzier feel: “some input”, they call it. Like what a DS offers his Marine recruits. When they ask. What’s most amazing about the story is the dean, a David W. Rasmussen, doubling down deadpan on the rightness of the deal, perhaps not surprising as a bank has already paid FSU to teach a course pitching Ayn Rand’s views; you have to read the story to get the whole sordid picture. What’s second most amazing is how cheap FSU sold out: $1.5m over six years, apparently revocable if the foundation doesn’t like anything any economics prof says.
Again; no need to panic yet, as the Seminoles are set to have another great year on the gridiron. But if you read anything by an FSU prof, you might want to keep in mind that if the school still has the Koch money, the article passed a Koch political test. Especially a junior prof, as it might be awkward at tenure time if calling them like you saw them cost the school a million and a half dollars.