These occurrences, combined with the academic concerns, have led some schools to think twice before expanding to the Gulf. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas — yes, the city of sin! — turned down an offer by the government of Dubai, reportedly “because of concerns about human rights,” according to the CHE. UNLV represents an important, even if surprising, objector to this money-trumps-all mentality, for at least one American institution of higher learning has realized that academic and political freedom might be a pre-requisite for serious Western-style scholarship and teaching — regardless of whether the host country’s check is sure to clear. It has realized that the corporate pursuit of profit and academic culture may not be the best mix. But we’ll have to wait to see how well ivy grows in the oil-soaked soil of the Persian Gulf.

Harvey Silverglate, a Cambridge-based lawyer and writer, is the co-author, most recently, of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses (HarperPerennial). His next book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, is forthcoming next year from Encounter Books. Kyle Smeallie assisted in the preparation of this piece. Read Harvey Silverglate's blog, The Free-For-All,at

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