Erfurt, GermanyMay 23, 2000
By Robert M. Berdahl
University of California, Berkeley
President Bergsdorf, distinguished faculty and students, honored guests, government officials. It is a great privilege for me to be here today, to capture some of the excitement and enthusiasm for this new university, located at the geographic center of the new Germany. As a historian of Germany, it also gives me great pleasure to visit this historic city, this historic university town with the claim of being the third oldest university in Germany. The symbolic fusion of the old and the new that is represented in this institution is powerful. I have followed with great interest the plans for the development of this university, in part because of its somewhat conscious emulation of aspects of American universities, but also because it represents an effort at structural reform that promises to put the learning experiences of students at the center of its purpose. Who cannot be excited at the prospect of Erfurt once again fulfilling Martin Luther's claim: "Wer gut studieren will, der gehe nach Erfurt."?
From reading an interview with Dean Schluster I am also struck by the fact that this university should lay claim to the tradition of Max Weber, one of the truly great social theorists of the last two centuries. Weber does not directly inspire my subject for today, the privatization of public universities, to be sure, and my analysis can never match the sophistication he might provide, but Weber has elucidated so profoundly the relationship between the spirit of capitalism and the cultural institutions of society that it seems entirely appropriate that I should talk about this subject at a place in which Weber was born.
Let me begin by offering a brief general history of American universities, for an understanding of the evolution of higher education in America is essential for any discussion of its current state and, indeed, is also important for those studying at an institution that is somewhat modeled on the American university. Like all major institutions in society, the structure of universities reflects the economic and social structures and needs of the society. At each stage of their evolution, changes in the nature of American universities came with major changes in the needs of the society.
American universities have their roots in the establishment of the colonial colleges -- institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, William and Mary -- that were founded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or shortly after the American Revolution. These colleges drew on medieval sources and the tradition of Cambridge and Oxford to offer a prescribed curriculum of ancient classics, rhetoric, mathematics, Christian ethics and philosophy. Their purpose was to educate a small, elite group of leaders for the church, the learned professions and citizens for the new nation. Their goal was the preservation of learning and its transmission through teaching to the next generation. The large number of private liberal arts colleges in the United States today, which offer only four-year baccalaureate degrees, continues the tradition of these colonial colleges today in America.
During the last third of the nineteenth century, either just prior to or immediately following the American Civil War, an entirely new kind of university appeared on the American scene. This new university accompanied the spread of American settlement to the west, both to the Great Plains of the upper Midwest, and to the new states of the West Coast. New lands were brought under cultivation, and the continent was connected by the transcontinental railroad. The United States was entering the industrial age.
The emergence of new universities to serve this new society began with the passage of the Morrill Act, legislation passed in 1863 and signed by President Lincoln, according to which the federal government granted large tracts of land to each of the states, the sale of which was to provide the money for the establishment of universities in each of the states. Thus was born a uniquely American institution, the public, land-grant university - universities like the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, the University of California and many others. These state universities had several functions. They were intended to educate a larger percentage of the population for life in a democratic society. And, without ignoring the classical disciplines, they were intended to conduct research and provide training in applied fields, above all, in agriculture and engineering. These "land-grant" universities were similar to the technical universities in France and Germany. With the addition of the agricultural extension service later, these institutions were responsible for "extending" the knowledge of modern agriculture to the farmers in all of the states.
These "land-grant" universities, as they were called, became the backbone of public higher education in America. They were enormously successful in educating the new immigrant population pushing westward across the continent. It is no accident that, outside of the West Coast, the most successful of these universities were located in the upper Midwest of the United States, from Ohio to Iowa, where the primary industry was agriculture. The land-grant universities developed substantial schools of agriculture and through their research in modern methods of agriculture and new crops, they helped make American agriculture so productive. In places like California, where the mining of gold caused the initial settlement of the state, mining and engineering were important as well; indeed, one of the oldest and finest buildings on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, is the mining engineering building. The land-grant university combination of applied research and learning with the traditional classical disciplines, together with a substantial mission to improve all aspects of rural life, is one of the truly original contributions that the United States has made to higher education. I happen to believe it offers an excellent model for the new universities being created in developing countries.
At roughly this same time as the land-grant universities were being founded, the influence of German universities also began to be felt in America. As Germany emerged as the center of learning in the nineteenth century, an increasing number of American scholars studied in Germany and came to appreciate the importance of Humboldt's ideal of combining the discovery of new knowledge with the transmission of old knowledge. Under the leadership, first of Daniel Coit Gilman, who later founded Johns Hopkins, and later that of Benjamin Ide Wheeler, my own university, the University of California, was heavily influenced from its outset by German universities. Both of these leaders of the University of California had studied in Germany, both were strong Germanophiles, and both consciously tried to emulate German universities. Indeed, in his speech made at the time of his installation in 1872, as the first president of the University of California, Gilman, commented:
If [the scholar] . . . looks toward the continent, he may see scholastic Germany -- the United States of the Old World -- now engaged in the foundation of a new university in Strasbourg, the greatest boon which can be given by a triumphant nation to a recovered province: a university which, in its comprehensive faculties, its liberal structure, its probable power, approaches the University of Berlin, and may well serve as an example to those in California who desire completeness and want it quickly.
This remarkable statement demonstrates Gilman's admiration for both Germany and German universities.
In addition, the historic colonial colleges - Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. - each also began to absorb the German model to become research universities. During the final decades of the nineteenth century, each of these universities began to subdivide the broad classical disciplines into specialties and the faculty became increasingly organized departmentally and active in the national organizations of disciplines. In these years, the various national organizations of disciplinary specialties appeared - the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1885, the American Historical Association in 1884, the American Chemical Society in 1876, the American Political Science Association in 1889, and many others in this same period. With this growth of academic specialization there came the growth of curriculum, the creation of the "elective system" that allowed students to select courses rather than study prescribed curriculum. Following the German example, an increasing number of these universities began to offer graduate degrees, with Johns Hopkins leading the way under Gilman's leadership.
By the end of the first third of the twentieth century, therefore, the American system of higher education comprised a fusion of these elements from the past. Some universities were private, dependent on tuition from students, gifts and income from endowment for their support; others were supported by state governments, charging little or no tuition from their students and possessing few endowments. Liberal-arts colleges continued the tradition of the colonial colleges, but the emerging public and private research universities also incorporated some of the ethos of the baccalaureate colleges in addition to introducing graduate degrees. And American universities also embraced applied research and professional education to a much greater degree than any of their European antecedents. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that universities, built upon the German model, existed primarily for the benefit of faculty. On the other hand, baccalaureate colleges, adhering more to the English model, existed primarily for the benefit of students. To a very large degree, these two models have lived together in an uneasy tension throughout the recent history of American universities.
During the inter-war years, another interesting new phenomenon appeared. It became common to believe that the rise of communism and fascism in Europe threatened the foundations of the West, that the United States bore a special burden to sustain the continuation of Western Civilization. At Columbia, the program in Western Civilization was introduced, required of all undergraduates; in some form, this curriculum spread to campuses all across the United States. This became part of the central mission of building a democratic society.
World War II brought the beginnings of significant changes in American universities. Scientists and engineers were called upon to contribute their expertise to the war effort. Radar was developed in laboratories at MIT, the first controlled atomic chain reaction took place at the University of Chicago, while the Manhattan Project drew scientists from universities all across America to Los Alamos to develop the atomic bomb. The success of the Manhattan Project demonstrated the role that science could play in national defense. The direction of the Manhattan Project was given to J. Robert Oppenheimer, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and thus began a connection between the University of California and the government defense laboratories that continues to this day. Three of the major government laboratories -- Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, are all still managed by the University of California. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, located on the Berkeley campus, does no weapons research, and all three of these laboratories do basic research, but all three are clear examples of what has been called the "Cold War university."
The "Cold War university" has its roots in the closing months of World War II. In 1945, as the War was ending, a scientific advisor to President Truman, Vannevar Bush, submitted a report to Truman, entitled Science, The Endless Frontier: A Report to the President on a Program for Postwar Scientific Research. Bush distinguished between "basic" research, "research performed without thought of practical ends," and "applied" research, which emanated from basic research and had practical applications, above all to industry and defense. In his formulation, basic research was the fundamental activity from which all else derived. As a consequence, he argued, the federal government should fund basic academic research, while universities should couple scientific research with graduate education. This was the fundamental formula for the development of the American research university over the last half-century. From the Vannevar Bush report was born the National Science Foundation and the provision of university research support from the Department of Defense, later the Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health.
The second phenomenon produced by the Second World War was the enormous growth of American universities immediately following the war. In part to reward returning veterans for their service during the war, and in part to prevent a large influx of returning veterans from entering the job market simultaneously, thus driving up unemployment and stimulating a return of the depression of the 1930s, the federal government introduced the GI Bill, which provided veterans with the money to attend college for four years. The GI Bill, I believe, came closer to being a social revolution than any event in American history in the twentieth century. It democratized universities by providing access to vast numbers of young men who would never otherwise have received an education. Equally important, it opened the doors of elite private universities to a much broader spectrum of the population. It produced an educated workforce that revitalized the American economy. Universities expanded in size and importance.
There was debate on the Berkeley campus in 1947 about the wisdom of accepting federally sponsored research. This was very similar to arguments today about industrial funding. The Cold War brought a significant expansion of federal government investment in American universities, not only in scientific research that may have had implications for national defense. In 1958, Congress first passed the National Defense Education Act, which extended well beyond work in science and engineering. It also funded work in the humanities and social sciences, above all in foreign languages, history, economics, political science, and sociology. The government provided generous graduate fellowships in all of these fields, for national defense was deemed to be dependent on the study of foreign cultures, especially Russia, Eastern Europe, China, and ultimately, Southeast Asia. The large expansion of universities in the 1960s came both as a result of dramatic population growth, but also federal investment during the Cold War.
One of the most prescient observers of American universities at this time was Clark Kerr, Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and later President of the University of California. In a book, published in 1963, entitled, The Uses of the University, Kerr coined the phrase "multiversity" to refer to the complex nature of the modern research university in America with the multiple disciplines and different cultures that had developed within it, breaking apart the unity implied by the traditional definition of the university. Kerr recognized that the modern university operated in the service of both government and the corporate sector of America and that its own organization more clearly resembled the organization of corporations. He also recognized that the educational mission of the university, especially as it pertained to undergraduates, suffered as a consequence.
The multiversity is an inconsistent institution. It is not one community but several - the community of the undergraduate and the community of the graduate; the community of the humanist, the community of the social scientist, and the community of the scientist; the communities of the professional schools; the community of the nonacademic personnel; the community of the administrators. Its edges are fuzzy - it reaches out to alumni, legislators, farmers, businessmen, who are all related to one or more of these internal communities. As an institution, it looks far into the past and far into the future, and is often at odds with the present. It serves society almost slavishly - a society it also criticizes, sometimes unmercifully. Devoted to equality of opportunity, it is itself a class society. A community, like the medieval communities of masters and students, should have common interests; in the multiversity, they are quite varied, even conflicting. A community should have a soul, a single animating principle; the multiversity has several - some of them quite good, although there is much debate on which souls really deserve salvation.
Kerr's definition of the university came under fire at Berkeley, his own university, during the student revolt, shortly after the publication of his book. The student revolt, beginning in Berkeley in 1964 and spreading across the United States and Europe shortly thereafter, criticized the linkages between the government and the university, especially during the Vietnam War. Using the imagery of the corporation attributed to Kerr, the leader of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, Mario Savio, powerfully appealed to the students to insist on change:
Now, I'll ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr is the manager, then I'll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean . . . to be made into a product, that don't mean to be bought by some clients of the University, be they government, be they industry, be they organized labor . . . . There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon the whole apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.
These were powerful words of resistance by student activists against the organization of the University, which are now so much a part of Berkeley's history and lore and appear on the walls of the undergraduate library.
During the last quarter century, several fundamental changes have altered the nature of higher education in America, especially among public universities. The first of these recent changes relates to the changing public mood regarding support for higher education. During the great expansion of higher education during the 1960s, there was great public support for universities. It was assumed that universities were a "public good," that investment in them served the public interest, and that the chief beneficiary of that investment was the public itself. Beginning around 1980, a conservative mood swept the country, resulting in the election of President Reagan; Reagan led a tax revolt that systematically reduced public investment in everything except national defense. Whereas in the 1960s universities had been seen as central to national defense, that assumption dissipated in the 1980s. Moreover, under Reagan, the federal government transferred many costs related to health care and welfare to the states. In the midst of the tax revolt, state governments, the primary source of public funds for public universities, found it impossible to continue investment in universities at levels previously established. The notion developed that the chief beneficiaries of universities were the students educated, not the public at large, so that it should be the students themselves who bore a larger portion of the cost of education. Faced with substantial inflation and declining support, universities increased fees. From the early 1980s to the present, for example, annual fees at the University of California have risen from zero in 1960-61, to $450 in 1971, to $3600 at the present time, down from two years ago. State support for Berkeley's operating budget has fallen from over 60% in 1980 to 34% at the present time. In the process of privatization of public universities, the largest single group of private contributors is the students, who now contribute about 15% of the operating budget of the University.
A second assault on universities has come in the form of intensive critique from the conservative movement itself. This is an interesting and revealing story that warrants some extended commentary. The story was first brought to my attention by my colleague at Berkeley, Professor David Hollinger, who has written thoughtfully about recent currents in American universities.
During the Cold War, American conservatives were always troubled about universities even as they realized that the nation depended upon them. From the McCarthy era through the anti-war movement of the 1960s, conservatives undertook a direct assault on universities, insisting on loyalty oaths by faculty, seeking to limit political action by students and faculty. They did not succeed in changing universities, but only in assaulting some sacred principles of academia, above all the academic freedom of faculty and students. By the late 1960s, it was clear a new strategy would be required. The development of this strategy fell to Lewis Powell, later appointed to the Supreme Court by President Nixon.
At the request of a friend and neighbor, an officer of the National Chamber of Commerce -- the organization that represents the business interests in the United States, Powell outlined a strategic response to the perceived liberalism of universities. Powell's response was a memo entitled, "The Attack on American Free Enterprise System" and it summarized this "attack" as coming from Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, and the people who were bombing banks, all of whom Powell linked to teachings of such university professors as Herbert Marcuse who taught at the University of California, San Diego. In dealing with this attack, Powell suggested that "Big Business" -- a term that Powell used, apparently unselfconsciously -- finance and direct a comprehensive program of cultural reform designed to undermine and diminish the influence of "liberal" and "radical" professors.
Powell called for several efforts by the Chamber. First, the Chamber should find the means of financing the work of humanities and social science scholars with "conservative" views. These scholars would then have a base independent from the liberal universities that were hostile to their points of view. Second, Big Business should establish a network of popular speakers and media personalities who would popularize the conservative point of view, above all through television. Third, business interests should try to influence the governing boards of universities concerning the "imbalance" of the universities and the left-leaning nature of the faculty. Fourth, conservatives and business interests should influence the curriculum by insisting that business schools within universities should hire their own social scientists, and offer their own courses on "business ethics," etc., thus insulating their students from the liberal ideas of social science departments.
Powell's effort differed from earlier conservative efforts to remove "liberal" or "radical" faculty members, an effort that had failed. Powell's was not a frontal assault; instead, he argued for a conservative alternative. To a very large extent, his program has been successful. Conservative foundations have been created, supporting the work of conservative scholars -- the Olin Foundation, the Free Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Society, for example. A network of conservative speakers, like Bill Bennett, has hit the airwaves. They have managed to portray academic liberals as closed-minded thinkers, insisting on a "politically correct" orthodoxy. In what has been an extremely clever and effective political campaign, these conservatives have preached a conservative doctrine that is relatively doctrinaire, while managing to persuade the public that universities are themselves held captive by liberal ideologues who countenance no other points of view. And they have succeeded in broadening the curriculum of business schools and other professional schools with a less liberal curriculum.
All of this has had an impact on universities. During the 1980s and 1990s, a large number of books appeared attacking universities. Alan Blum's The Closing of the American Mind, was perhaps the most famous, but others also did their work: Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education, Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals, Charles Sykes' Profscam were but a few of the many that attacked American universities, claiming that the faculty taught too little, were largely interested only in research, and possessed a thorough-going liberal bias.
Professor Hollinger, in commenting on Powell's memorandum observes the manner in which universities have themselves been infected by the forces defined by Powell's memorandum:
I do not want to make Powell sound more like 'one of us' than he truly was, but I believe it is fair to say that within the academy during the last few decades there has been a widespread reluctance to assign to universities a positive cultural function unique to them, rather than merely in the service of one set or another of economic, ethnoracial, technological, or political interests. This reluctance is often covered by a certain toughness of posture, an unwillingness to appear too idealistic about higher education, a worldly acceptance of the status of the university as a bundle of outcomes rather than as an agent in its own right.
Such studied realism is easy to understand, and has much to recommend it. The truths that support this realism are accessible even to the simplest of minds. But the people who built modern universities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw beyond these obvious truths. Had those academic pioneers succumbed to this easy realism, had they been incapable of a robust, risk taking idealism, had they been unwilling to proclaim the university to be an independent cultural agent, they would not have been able to put in place the chief ideological defenses of universities upon which we still rely.
It is difficult to argue with some of Hollinger's contentions. American universities have defined themselves over the past quarter century increasingly as agents of economic change and economic development. I would argue with him that to some large extent, this "realism," perhaps more accurately, pragmatism, has always been central to the mission of American universities, certainly from the founding of land-grant universities in the nineteenth century and with the evolution of the federal supported research university since World War II. But there is a significant shift that has taken place over the last few years that is worth noting, because it may signal an entirely new phase in the historical development of American universities. This new phase can be summarized -- or characterized, depending on one's viewpoint -- as signaling the emergence of an industrial-university research partnership.
The evolution of this partnership has been especially evident in California, above all in Silicon Valley, and in Massachusetts, in the industrial region known as the Route 128 corridor, outside of Boston. But university research parks, intended to attract industrial partners have sprung up everywhere. These are the centers of high-technology industries dependent both on the intellectual capital -- the ideas generated in research universities -- and the human capital -- the students educated in these universities. Many of the new companies that have developed in California have been founded by faculty or students from Stanford or the University of California. One-third of all of the biotechnology companies in the world are in California and an equal percentage have been founded by faculty at the University of California. Both Stanford and Berkeley have faculty actively engaged in founding new companies, both are investing some portion of their endowment in venture capital, and Stanford has just announced that it will take an equity interest in a company founded by its faculty.
By far the most controversial decision we have made at Berkeley since I became Chancellor three years ago has been to enter into an agreement between the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute and the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University. According to this agreement, Novartis will provide $5 million per year in support of basic research in the department. The decision about which applications for funding are approved is determined by a five-person committee; two of the members of the committee are from Novartis, three are from the University. Novartis may not dictate which research proposals are funded.
Novartis, in turn, is given the right to license patents held by the University of up to one third of the patentable intellectual property developed by the department of Plant and Microbial Biology, with the University retaining the patent rights and earning normal patent royalties from the patents. Participating faculty, in turn, receive access to proprietary databases held by Novartis.
The critics of this contract argue that the University has struck a Faustian bargain with Novartis. One critic has argued that by allowing Novartis to participate, even as a minority on the funding committee, the University is allowing a private company to chart the course of research at the University. He argues:
There is a voice, even a small one, helping to chart research. There is a seat at the table for interests who very rightly expect a return on the dollar . . . . The University is one of the last bastions of research that is not invariably tied to profit. By its nature, the University has been a place where one could say unpopular things, work on unpopular ideas, cut against the grain, and still prosper.
Those who defend the arrangement, and I am one of them, point out that the Novartis arrangement is not qualitatively different from other arrangements into which faculty are permitted to enter with private companies. Many engineers, for example, have their research funded by contracts with private companies that are far more directive and protect the interests of the University far less than the Novartis agreement. Moreover, it would be absurd to believe that faculty applying for research support from the federal government do not also tailor their applications to the interests of the government so as to secure support. Faculty are also free to spend one day per week during their contract year consulting for pay with private companies.
There are many things that can be said in favor of the agreement, or by way of arguing that the agreement with Novartis is not a new departure for universities, public or private. Still, the Novartis agreement cannot help but be somewhat disquieting to those of us who believe that it represents one more example of the seemingly inexorable shift toward the privatization of public universities. There is evidence that the increasing dependence on private support leaves public universities vulnerable to influence from private sources. Last month, for example, the Chairman of Nike announced that he would withdraw his $30 million pledge to the University of Oregon because it had chosen, after much careful deliberation, to affiliate with the Workers' Rights Coalition to monitor conditions under which American companies were producing goods in Third World Countries. Critical of the decision and the political values he believed it represented, he simply withdrew his gift.
This noon, over lunch, we were discussing the study of President Eisenhower that Professor Schumacher has just completed. Professor Schumacher commented on the irony of the fact that Eisenhower presided, as President, over the largest growth of the military in the peacetime history of the United States, but in his "farewell" speech felt compelled to warn Americans about the growing military-industrial complex. In a similar fashion, as a university chancellor who is witnessing the emergence of a substantial "university-industrial complex," it seems appropriate to offer some warning comments about its impact, although I hope this is not taken to be my "farewell address".
What are the dangers of a university-industrial complex?
First, there is the danger to which Clark Kerr alluded nearly four decades ago, and about which Professor Hollinger has written recently. And that is the loss of common ground, common unity, common purpose within the university. This has already been severely tested by the specialization within the modern research university and it has only intensified as the "two cultures" to which C.P. Snow referred have grown apart. But the university-industrial complex brings market forces into the university to an extent never before contemplated. American universities have always tolerated some salary differences between disciplines. Today those differences have grown enormously. At the level of assistant professors, there can be as much as 100% between humanists and business school faculty, for example.
Second, with the large market differentials, and the new capacity for some faculty -- biologists, engineers, computer scientists, and business school faculty -- to earn substantial amounts outside the university, there can be corresponding devaluation of the work of humanists and social scientists. Humanists and social scientists, of course, have always felt that their work was not sufficiently valued in the university, but that threat today is greater than ever. When the new president-elect of Stanford, John Hennessy, an engineer, was first interviewed after his selection, he was asked what was his greatest challenge. He replied that his greatest challenge was to convince Silicon Valley's wealthy contributors to Stanford that the humanities were vital to the well being of Stanford.
Moreover, it is worrisome that the great challenges posed by the advent of the new technologies -- above all by the technological capabilities introduced by the revolution in biology -- these great challenges are fundamentally issues of ethics and public policy. Who will guide us through the moral and policy thicket of this new age if the humanists and social scientists are weakened by the overwhelming drive of market forces in a university-industrial complex?
And third, the university-industrial partnership, productive as it is, lucrative and essential as it is for much of the basic research of the university, can undermine the belief in the basic objectivity of the research of our faculty. The issue is not that Novartis may direct the research exclusively to topics that may yield profits for the company; it is, rather, that the perception of the objectivity of our faculty may be compromised and with it the confidence that their research is dedicated to the public good. Few would put a great deal of confidence, I suspect, in the objectivity of lung cancer research funded by tobacco companies. That is an extreme example, but it illustrates the questions that arise. Drawing the line is not easy.
The research in genetically modified agricultural crops, which has caused enormous public concern here in Europe, and faces growing criticism in America, could have tremendous impact on the nutrition for many parts of the world. But the early uses of genetic modification have not been to create, for example, vitamin-rich strains of rice that would benefit the health of much of the world's population, because that is not where the profits are to be had. Instead, the earliest applications of genetic modification has been to produce crops that are resistant to herbicides and pesticides because the companies providing the herbicides and pesticides are also investing in the development of crop strains that can tolerate their herbicides and pesticides.
Likewise, the much-touted bio-medical revolution that is underway is targeting the diseases that kill Americans and Europeans. However, mortality in the rest of the world is not brought about by the same diseases that kill Americans and Europeans. Most of the people in the world die from malaria or various diarrhetic diseases uncommon in the developed world. But that is not where the market for drugs exists. So, the question is not whether a company tells a researcher what research to conduct; it is whether there will ultimately be any significant investment in research that is simply in the public interest, rather than the private interest.
American universities, public and private, are growing increasingly alike. Private universities all receive some form of public subsidy; public universities have long been the beneficiaries of private support. But, today, private universities rely on public support, in the form of federal grants, to be truly excellent, and public universities cannot be truly excellent without private support.
In the discussion period, we can talk about what example or warning this may provide for German universities. For American universities, there is no turning back; we will have to continue to raise large amounts of private funds. But we must do so while recognizing that few gifts are free of some obligation, few sources of support are without some strings, and all courses of action contain some dangers.