FIRE’s recent case at Ashland University has caught the attention of several blogs. As we revealed yesterday, John Lewis, a professor of classical history at Ashland, was hired with the understanding that he would devote part of his time to the study of Objectivism. In contract with the university, the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship paid part of Prof. Lewis’ salary. Ashland University subsequently denied John Lewis tenure on the grounds that his Objectivist scholarship was in conflict with the university’s values.
The incident has received insightful coverage from several outlets: The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the story last week; Reason Magazine picked up the story on their blog; Minding the Campus linked to FIRE’s blog on its prominent “Latest Commentary” section; and Townhall’s blog A Different Planet discussed the incident.
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism picked up the story as well, arguing that given Prof. Lewis’ specialty in classical history, his Objectivist scholarship cannot hinder the university’s stated commitment to Judeo-Christian values. It’s not like he’s teaching a Bible class. Furthermore, they make an outstanding point FIRE has hammered home time and again: a university cannot advertise one thing to its students and faculty, namely freedom of speech and research, and then deliver another. If Ashland promised Prof. Lewis the freedom, indeed the obligation, to study Objectivism, it is unconscionable that such scholarship was used as an excuse to deny him tenure.