Northwood University recently affirmed its commitment to the free-market thinking of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman by honoring one of Friedman’s close collaborators and pledging to carry on the mission of defending free-market capitalism.
The collaborator? Robert J. “Bob” Chitester, a public broadcasting guru who is credited with bringing free-market concepts to living rooms across the country. Chitester, now 83, and Friedman had a symbiotic relationship, and their mutual respect resulted in a decades-long collaboration that centered mostly on promoting personal, economic, and political freedom.
Chitester visited Northwood October 21 for a day of academic discussions and professional gatherings. During his visit, he lauded Northwood as a modern-day defender of the principles to which Friedman dedicated his career.
Friedman, who died in 2006 at the age of 94, was an avid supporter of Northwood University and shaped the values we uphold. He authored the foreword to “When We Are Free,” the University’s iconic book of essays and appeals in support of free-market thinking, and his work and words have been foundational to the Northwood mission of developing the future leaders of a global, free-enterprise society.
“We must make people understand that the basic idea of a free society is fundamentally a humane idea. It is fundamentally the idea that people as individuals have responsibilities to themselves and to one another that cannot be met by turning them over to somebody else, by electing government officials who will take money out of your pocket in order to spend it on supposedly good objectives. The responsibilities can only be met by us as individuals,” Friedman said.
It was fitting that Chitester called on Northwood to carry Friedman’s legacy into the future. While on campus, Chitester received a citation from the United States Congress for his contributions to the nation and the freedom movement; a salutation from the State of Michigan, presented by Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey; and a copy of the Great Seal of the State of Michigan, signed by numerous legislators (including one Northwood graduate) who cite his work as being inspirational. Among a bevy of honors, Northwood President Kent MacDonald presented Chitester with the University’s highest accolade, an honorary Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa degree.
“The work you are doing here at Northwood is incredibly important,” Chitester told his audience. “Help me keep alive the legacy of our dear friends Milton and Rose Friedman.” University leaders pledged to do exactly that.