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Monday, June 23, 2008

U. of C. and intellectual diversity

At the University of Chicago a new research center might carry the name of Milton Friedman, the nobel winning economist who was a staunch supporter of free markets and free minds. Alas, some 100 professors at the university are afraid that naming the center after Friedman would lead many to believe that all the faculty at the University of Chicago were free-market, free-minded people, which, as these faculty so conveniently point out, is definitely not the case:

In a letter to U. of C. President Robert Zimmer, 101 professors--about 8 percent of the university's full-time faculty--said they feared that having a center named after the conservative, free-market economist could "reinforce among the public a perception that the university's faculty lacks intellectual and ideological diversity."
How the name of one person on one research center equals a lack of intellectual diversity is lost on me. Perhaps the building should be named after a group of people instead of one person, for example the "Professors Research Center" or the "People of all Intellectual Pursuits Research Center" or "Research Among (the) Intellectually Deverse" or RAID for short.

How many buildings are named after individuals who might have engaged in questionable activities but are nonetheless unknown to faculty, students, administrators, and the public at large? About 99%, that's how many. Perhaps the good folks at U. of C. are a bit spoiled and are arguing about angels on pin heads.

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