Florida Southern College officially welcomed its latest addition, the Center for Free Enterprise, in an inaugural program featuring former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson.

This year the Barney Barnett School of Business received accreditation from the American Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Now the new Center for Free Enterprise will, along with the Institute for Accounting Excellence, be one of the School’s first centers.

Dr. Derek Yonai will be the new center’s director. Yonai gave a speech at the program, saying that competition between business schools for enrollment has often caused a lapse in standards for business education.

“Souless education has driven the soul out of business education,” Yonai said.

Yonai championed the idea of students becoming more than “users” and learning the philosophy behind business in addition to business skills.

Yonai also spoke about the use of morality in business dealings, a cause which was also later discussed by Simpson.

Simpson was the Co-Chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Bowles-Simpson Commission. According to fiscalcommission.gov, the commission was designed with the intent to take a look at some of the financial problems facing the nation.

During his speech, Simpson spoke about the “hate” present in both political parties.

“You can’t be free if you can’t be free of hatred,” Simpson said.

He also touched on social security, and what some interest groups mean for young people.

“Young people have no one to represent them,” Simpson said.

As a result Simpson said that there would be less left for the younger generation and that it was “sad.”

“You talk about free enterprise but at some point you have to talk about what the preacher talks about: fairness,” Simpson said.

After Dr. Johnson Fisk, the recipient of the newly-awarded Prize for Economic Freedom and chariman and CEO of the board of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., spoke, Simpson elaborated on the idea of fairness in free enterprise.

“Free enterprise is marvelous if it’s fair and if it has a value system, just as Fisk said. Free enterprise is a great thing as long as you have a proper value system,” Simpson said. “It ain’t worth a damn if you’re filled with greed.”

Simpson later met with several students at the Barney Barnett School of Business.

“I’m going to go over there, and I’m not going to give a speech,” Simpson said. “I’m just going to say, ‘ask any questions. Ask what’s irritating you.’”

While many in the audience were guests of the college, several students attended as well. Roxana Villalon, a business administration major, is excited for the new center.

“It’s been a great experience. I really enjoyed this,” Villalon said. “I really want to see all the speakers and really want to hear what they have to say.”’

Later Yonai hosted a panel that featured Andrew Corty,  president and publisher of “Florida Trend,” Robert Knight,  president and founder of Knight Industrial Equipment, Inc., Chas Smith president and CEO of CPS Investment Advisors, and Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The panel discussed concepts of free enterprise as well as other topics.

Yonai hopes that the center will be able to host book clubs, movie nights and debates. For the community in general Yonai said that he is looking into creating workshops and seminars.

The next event for the Center for Free Enterprise is the Politics, Law and Economic Lecture Series featuring Dr. Thomas Woods on April 9.


Photo by Leah Schwarting