But Vaidhyanathan is right about one thing, which our weekend guest blogger hit on yesterday as well: limited sources of public funding don’t just promote “innovation,” “creativity,” and “competition” so many of the things that are good about capitalism and make America great. Promoting innovation is one of the frequent reasons cited to privatize public things. In the last decade, public funding per in-state student at UVA has gone from $15,247 to $8,310. Does this make the university innovative, or just desperate?
It looks like when public funding dries up, this simply makes the institution really, really beholden to random rich people and their whims and fads. So Dragas and Kiernan want a new president who will take full advantage of the “Internet and technology advances.” Why? Is that something UVA should focus on? Is that what makes UVA great?
When Thomas Jefferson founded the university in 1819 he wrote that “this institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
Perhaps I’m missing something here, but it seems that maintaining rigorous classics and German departments is primary to fulfilling that mission. The Internet seems decidedly secondary.
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