Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'Gary's Gulch'

As covered by ARCHNblog over the last week, the latest Chronicle of Higher Education now carries (subscription required) the Founders College/Objectivism connection in some detail, wittily calling it "Gary's Gulch."

While the CHE notes the Ayn Rand Institute orientation of founder Gary Hull and Philosophy Professor Robert Garmong, and that Art History Professor Lee Sandstead is an Objectivist, it has overlooked that Business Professor Steve Gedeon is also an Objectivist, and that both the latter also have ARI affiliations. (It is unlikely that the CHE would know much about the significance of this in Objectivist politics). The CHE also overlooks that, contrary to claims of the college's ideological neutrality, ARI-friendly Objectivists make up at least 50% of the faculty announced to date.

In the latest twist in this somewhat murky saga, the CHE semi-confirms what an anonymous commenter suggested here a few days ago: "More surprising than Founders' public move away from objectivism (sic) is that Mr. Hull has largely cut his ties with the institution. He remains a shareholder in the founding corporation and will serve as a consultant to the college, but Ms. Fuller says he will not have a role in day-to-day operations."

This, however, seems to still clash with the statement on Founders website from March 14 that since stepping down as CEO, Founders' founder Hull has the role of "Chief of Educational Research and Development with responsibilities for cultivating the faculty, developing the curriculum and teacher training, and maintaining the highest level of academic standards."

This role seems hardly like that of a mere "consultant," so it seems that Hull has wound his involvement back even further since March. The CHE report sheds no light on why:
"'It's his personal choice,' (CEO Tamara K. Fuller) says, declining to elaborate. Mr. Hull has been mum, not returning repeated calls and e-mail messages from The Chronicle over a six-month period."
The CHE report also mentions that scholar Eric D. Daniels "has also backed out of the venture" and that he, like Hull, is also mute, saying only, "I am not and will not be involved, and have not been for about a year." The CHE does not mention the fact that Daniels is another ARI-friendly Objectivist. However, the CHE does mention that "Mr. Daniels taught in Duke's Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace, which Mr. Hull directs. It is one of several programs supported by the BB&T Charitable Foundation, an arm of a financial-services company whose chairman and chief executive officer, John A. Allison IV, describes himself as an admirer of Rand."

This turns out to be yet another ARI connection, as ARCHNblog notes that John A. Allison IV is a "major contributor to the Ayn Rand Institute."

While an official relationship between the ARI and Founders does not seem to exist, given the accumulation of clear yet less formal relationships between Founders and the Ayn Rand Institute, it seems difficult to countenance claims that there is "absolutely no connection."

The CHE takes a somewhat skeptical approach to the project:
"But even before the doors open, Mr. Hull's dream looks like it's beginning to crumble. He has backed out of the project's day-to-day operations, the college's chosen accreditor is in hot water with the government, and enrollment has fallen far short of the 140 students the college hoped to open with in September....The college has reduced the anticipated size of its first class from about 140 students to between 15 and 20. Ms. Fuller plans to supplement the college's revenues by continuing to operate an inn on the South Boston property and by building a retirement and lifelong-learning community nearby.

To float the enterprise, Ms. Fuller and several anonymous investors have put up $10-million, according to documents submitted to the state council. The investors have also taken on $17.1-million in debt, according to the documents, including the purchase of a former plantation, with a 160-year-old mansion, for a campus....The campus also has a spa, swimming pool, a Doric-columned mansion, crumbling slave quarters, and, according to local lore, no fewer than 30 ghosts. This fall the ghosts may outnumber the students. So far, just 10 have enrolled."

5 comments:

Neil Parille said...

As one commentator mentioned on the link I gave, why would a student attend Founders College as opposed to a Great Books school? Even Objectivist students are likely to think there are better schools to attend.

Daniel Barnes said...

Pass the dynamite...;-)

Anonymous said...

well you know What They Say: I don't care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right... BTW, Andy Bernstein is scheduled to lecture on heroism in October - doesn't get more ARI than that...

Anonymous said...

Someone told me that Gary Hull disappeared. Is that true? I heard him speak at Middle Tennessee State University in the early 90's. He gave a very inspiring talk.

Anonymous said...

The last free news available on the Internet is that August 5, 2015 Gary Hull was arrested for embezzlement (from Duke University) and identity theft, ironically after having been the director of Duke’s Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace.