Blum, Debra E. "An Outspoken Critic of Higher Education's Ties to Industry Crusades Against

 

Blum, Debra E. "An Outspoken Critic of Higher Education's Ties to Industry Crusades Against
Government-Sponsored Military Research," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 July 1991,
pp. A14ff.

David Noble has been a critic of industry's ties to higher education for years. His criticisms at
M.I.T. probably cost him his job there. He believes that the greatest threat to the public interest in
higher education is the commercialization of science - the control that corporations have
increasingly gained over scientific research at universities. To him, "Universities have been
transformed from ‘educational enterprises to money-making and big-business enterprises.'" (p.
A14)

Noble's opposition to M.I.T.'s Industrial Liaison Program in 1989 brought him Congressional
attention. Representative Ted Weiss (D-NY) had him testify at his 1989 hearings on the subject.
His rhetorical question: "Is Science For Sale?" He pointed out that most of the participants in the
M.I.T. program are foreign owned corporations and they were being an edge on research which
had been supported by the American taxpayer.

In his department's vote on tenure for Noble, the vote was 5 of nine against tenure. Clearly a split
vote. Did M.I.T. put pressure on the faculty to deny tenure? Noble has given up his battle for
money in return for the release of the documents in the tenure matter. Clearly there is much going
on besides granting tenure to an associate professor. There is a great deal of money involved in
research and when money is involved, the whole process breaks down.

Noble has been critical of other schools as well. When he was given a position (with tenure) at
Drexel, he was critical there of the decisions to improve research by gutting undergraduate
education.

His new job is at York, Canada, where, he suggests, schools have not sold out to business.