Bank Stops Paying Colleges to Teach Ayn Rand

BB&T, a banking firm, has apparently stopped its multi-million dollar campaign to buy space in college curricula for the work of Ayn Rand. For years it had provided gifts to colleges and universities called “Moral Foundations grants,” which came with various provisions for bringing attention to the work of Rand. According to a study discussed at Inside Higher Ed, “at least 63 colleges and universities received Moral Foundations grants, averaging about $1 million each.” The grants were a project of former BB&T executive John Allison, but when he left the firm about five years ago, new grants stopped being issued (though payouts from previously issued grants will continue at some institutions for a few more years).

The study, “BB&T, Atlas Shrugged and the Ethics of Corporation Influence on College Curricula,” appears in The Journal of Academic Ethics. According to IHE, it documents how the agreements between BB&T and the schools accepting their funds happened “under a veil of secrecy, often without the knowledge of faculty members” and with the aim of correcting what people at BB&T see as “an overly liberal curriculum.”

Though the program has stopped, it is not clear whether the curricula and institutions (such as “Ayn Rand Reading Rooms”) created by its grants will continue at the funded schools. Nor is it clear what effect BB&T’s programs have had as a precedent for other corporate interactions with universities.

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8 years ago

Wow. I had no idea about this. For years I’ve been struggling to understand why Rand is taken seriously by anyone and now it is at least partly explained. Was this an acceptable deal or a betrayal of philosophy and philosophy students? It looks like the latter from here.

Manyul Im
8 years ago

I actually thought for the past few days that the title of this post was “Banks Pay Colleges to Stop Teaching Ayn Rand.” Wishful perception, I guess.