Academic Controversy Amidst the Cornfields:

The creation of a new fund to support the study of entrepreneurship, free market capitalism, individual liberty and limited government at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has sparked controversy at the midwestern campus. Some Illinois faculty are concerned the creation of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government represents an end-run around faculty governance to advance a right-wing ideological agenda. As Inside Higher Education reports, some faculty see the Academy as

a move by conservative alumni with influential national support to bypass normal faculty governance, create new courses and impose ideological tests on who gets certain pots of money. The alumni who have given the money for the effort, currently housed at the university’s foundation, are explicit that they want a formal role in who gets money from the fund, the views those people should have, and the eventual goal of creating a new version of the Hoover Institution at a top public university, with the ambition of inspiring others to follow their model.

As a result of those statements and other concerns, professors at the university are debating whether the new academy is appropriate for the university. Some like the program, others think it could work with certain oversight provisions, and others find the entire idea questionable.

The Academy officially launched this past week with a half-day conference featuring Steve Forbes and UIUC alum Robert Novak. For more on the controversy, see here, here, and here.