August 14, 2007
CCU prof reportedly fired for criticizing capitalism
"What the university stands for, among other things, is free markets."
Andrew Paquin is executive director of the 10/10 Project, a Colorado-based international development and advocacy organization focusing on Africa. He was also professor of global studies at Colorado Christian University, and last year was named faculty member of the year. (He also wrote a 2006 op-ed for Christianity Today on Saddleback Church's PEACE plan.)
Monday's Rocky Mountain News reports that CCU fired Paquin "amid concerns that his lessons were too radical and undermined the school's commitment to the free enterprise system." (No one at the school has tenure.)
School president Bill Armstrong wouldn't talk about Paquin's case in specific, but emphasized the school's commitment to capitalism. "What the university stands for, among other things, is free markets," he explained. He pointed to the school's recently adopted "strategic objectives," which include a commitment to "impact our culture in support of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, Biblical view of human nature, limited government, personal freedom, free markets, natural law, original intent of constitution and Western civilization."
Paquin told the paper he likes capitalism. The 10/10 Project, in fact, largely focuses on microenterprise. Capitalism, he says, has "obviously been one of the greatest wealth generators in the world. But I'd stop short of deifying it."
I hope we'll hear more, because the story seems very incomplete. The News article suggests that Paquin was fired because he assigned books by Jim Wallis and Peter Singer, but it's not at all clear that Paquin actually endorsed the books, and the college library carries many books by both Wallis and Singer. Armstrong insists that it's okay to teach about alternative viewpoints, so long as they're not endorsed, but it's not evident that Armstrong takes issue with Wallis.
One also wonders about how to read, define, and enforce those strategic objectives. Does Armstrong's support of a constitutional amendment banning "desecration" of the U.S. flag violate the school's commitment to "limited government," for example? As one often wonders in these stories of lines in the sand, How far is too far?