Jason Riley’s Invitation and Disinvitation Emails

May 04, 2016 |  NAS

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Jason Riley’s Invitation and Disinvitation Emails

May 04, 2016 | 

NAS

Yesterday NAS president Peter Wood and director of research projects Rachelle Peterson broke the story that Jason Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, had been disinvited from speaking at Virginia Tech. Prof. Robert Sumichrast, the dean of the Pamplin College of Business where Riley was to speak as the BB&T Distinguished Lecturer in fall 2016, has now claimed in an open letter that Riley was never invited in the first place. We obtained copies of the original invitation and disinvitation notices that Riley received, and post them unedited below. Peter Wood has issued an open letter to Dean Sumichrast calling on him to acknowledge and stand by Riley’s invitation to Virginia Tech.

Disinvitation Email

From: Patterson, Douglas
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 4:46 PM
To: Jason Riley
Subject: BB&T Lecture

Dear Jason,

                The department head has decided that I cannot formalize my offer for you to give the BB&T Distinguished Lecture. The problem is not the honorarium, but rather he is afraid there could be protests over your appearance on campus. Please bear with me as I try and explain.

                On March 25 Charles Murray gave the lecture. When this was announced in the student newspaper all heck broke loose. Why? Because in1994 he and  Richard Herrnstein published the “Bell Curve.” Tim Sands, the president of Virginia Tech, embarrassed himself and the university with an open letter to the university community where he claimed that Murray’s work had been discredited—no mention of Herrnstein, no facts or references to the book. I’m sure Sands has never read the book, so he had no reason to make such a statement. It’s my guess that he was put up to it by one of his “diversity” assistants. As it turns out, I purchased and read the entire book back in 1994, so I know the president’s claim was a cheap smear of a prominent scholar. Below is the link to Sands’ open letter:

http://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/03/president-letterprinciples.html#.VyObX0KE4j4.email

                Charles Murray heard about the kerfuffle and wrote  his own open letter to the Tech community which was published on the front page of the “Collegiate Times,” the student newspaper.

https://www.aei.org/publication/an-open-letter-to-the-virginia-tech-community/

Next came the organization of a protest by the campus looney left, complete with tee shirts saying “I am not Inferior.” Two days before the lecture I attended a “Teach In” with the dean of the college of business. This turned out to be an ugly, hate-filled two hour attack on Charles Murray, complete with charges that he is a racist, was or is a member of the Ku-Klux-Klan, that he supports eugenics, and that the Koch brothers are behind the BB&T lecture series, and so on. (These supposedly educated people were not aware that Woodrow Wilson, a pioneer of the progressive movement, favored eugenics).The reality of the “Teach In” was an organized attack on free speech.

            There was talk of cancelling Murray’s appearance, but cooler heads prevailed, and we went ahead with the lecture with police security protection. The protestors were not allowed near the door to the ballroom where the lecture took place. Carry-in bags and briefcases were inspected by additional security personnel. The event went of smoothly although attendance was lower than expected because of the protest and the fact the dean of the business school would not allow me to promote the lecture with posters or class announcements.

            The BB&T lecture series is supported by private grant money. A counter lecture was organized and took place immediately after the Murray lecture. The speaker was someone by the name of Dr. Jason E. Glenn of the University of Texas Medical Branch. The title of the lecture was “Neoliberalism, Class Warfare, and the Enduring Allure of Biogenic Determinism.” I note that this lecture was funded by public money.  

Next we come to the Jason Riley invitation. When I told the department head that I wanted to invite you he didn’t say much one way or the other. Later, he learned that you have written about race issues in the WSJ. He and others in my department are worried about more protests from the looney left if you were to give the lecture. I explained that if we allow ourselves to be intimidated by these people they win, and we lose. It was no use arguing, their minds were made up. Fear of a possible protest is more important than free speech or the values that a university is supposed to stand for.

Yours sadly,

Doug

Douglas M. Patterson

Professor of Finance

Pamplin College of Business

880 West campus Drive

Blacksburg, VA 24061

 Voice: (540) 231-5737

Email: amex@vt.edu

 P.S. If you are interested, here is the link to the Murray Lecture: https://vimeo.com/160782726

Invitation Email

From: Patterson, Douglas
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 2:16 PM
To: Jason Riley
Subject: Info on BB&T lecture

 Dear Mr. Riley,

                Please allow me to introduce myself: I am Douglas Patterson, a professor in the Finance Department at Virginia Tech. I am also the director of the program on “Exploring the Foundations of Capitalism and Freedom,” located in the Pamplin College of Business. The program is supported through a grant from the BB&T bank. One of the activities of the program is the sponsorship of the bi-annual BB&T Distinguished Lecture. Past speakers have included Kevin Hassett of AEI, James Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in economics, Robert Samuelsson, columnist for Newsweek and The Washington Post, Virginia  Governor James Gilmore, Greg Ip,  US editor for the Economist, and most recently, Charles Murray of AEI. The topics of the lectures are related to the US economy and the connection between free markets and wealth creation in society. The lectures have proven to be popular with Pamplin students, faculty, and members of the public, and typically attract an audience of 300 or more. 

                My purpose in writing is to invite you to give the fall 2016 lecture here in Blacksburg. Given your contributions to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, I believe you would be a very appropriate choice to give the lecture.  We offer speakers an honorarium and travel expenses. The one-hour lectures are usually given in the late afternoon. Speakers often spend the night in Blacksburg and return home the next morning. Others do it all in a single day.

                If you have a possible interest in being our fall speaker please let me know by either email or telephone.

Yours,

Doug

Douglas M. Patterson

Professor of Finance

Pamplin College of Business

880 West campus Drive

Blacksburg, VA 24061

Danny

| May 03, 2017 - 4:00 PM


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