Chancellor John W. Bardo
The Changing Role of the University in the Marketplace of Ideas
Faculty, staff, students, colleagues. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today and to have a chance to talk with you about the future. As we proceed with higher education in the 21st century, we must challenge our long-held, and increasingly obsolete, attitudes about the role of the university in society. And in that regard, I want to talk around the notions of change and expected impacts on education because, as all of you already know, our future is defined by change.
Change is something we can fear, or something we can embrace.
Change is something we can be a part of, or something we can merely observe.
Change is something we can cause, or something we can simply wait for.
The recent $1 million gift from BB&T has set an important precedent for Western Carolina University. By allowing BB&T to shape the business school curriculum, with a new emphasis on the novels and, I daresay, the novel philosophies of Ayn Rand, we serve a valuable role in influencing beliefs about leadership, ethics and capitalism. As a result of our responsiveness to gifts such as this, we enhance the educational experience of our students, the intellectual development of our faculty, and the financial robustness of the institution.
This incredible partnership between the university and the business world is exactly the sort of change we need as we move into the future. It gives new meaning to that old phrase, “the marketplace of ideas.” Moving forward, we recognize that Western is uniquely positioned to be a change-agent in the marketplace of ideas.
Today, I am pleased to announce that change is not only coming, but that change has come.
Today, I can tell you that we are embarking on a new initiative. We are offering the business world a chance to shape the syllabus of every class in every department. In light of our mutually beneficial partnership with BB&T to establish the teachings of Ayn Rand in the business school, we recognize that other corporations would find it attractive to dictate course content across the broad range of all our departments, and would be eager to participate generously in making that possible.
These are challenging times for business and to thrive in the 21st century, business must find ways to influence thought and shape the leaders of the future. In challenge is opportunity and we see the opportunity in the unique convergence of interests shared by both the business world and the university. These are changing times and changing times demand that Western Carolina University assume a more proactive stance as a broker in the marketplace of ideas.
While we are still in the early stages of this process and I am constrained from naming any of the corporations with whom we are engaged in discussion, I want you to know that we have every reason to be excited about the potential of this initiative.
We are already negotiating with household names in the utility, pharmaceutical, finance, food service and chemical industries, and that is just the beginning. We are identifying the ways that their message can be delivered in every classroom of every department on campus. And the university will reap the rewards of this effort, I assure you. By reshaping our curriculum at their behest, Western demonstrates how it can play a valuable role in a changing economy.
There is a great deal that remains to be done. Change is difficult, but the alternative would be much harder on all of us. Well, I hope that this talk has stimulated some thinking regarding what might be accomplished as we move ahead to boldly reposition ourselves in the marketplace of ideas.
We are all engaged in the most important work there is: preparing young people for the future. I thank you very much for having me here today and for the opportunity to spend some time sharing with you my thoughts on the future of this institution. Best of luck in the rest of the academic year. Thank you.