The Mises Campus
In 1934, the political storm clouds gathered in Vienna, Austria, the beloved home of Ludwig von Mises that he knew he would have to leave. The decision was fortuitous: when the German armies finally arrived, they ransacked his apartment and stole his books and papers.
Mises himself was safe in Geneva, Switzerland, where he had been offered academic sanctuary thanks to private funding and an institution that was dedicated to ideas and free thought. It was here that he wrote his greatest books that have changed the world.
The Mises Institute today serves as academic sanctuary, a home for academic freedom and an educational institution dedicated to the ideals that Mises stood for.
In the twilight of his life, Mises believed that he had one last urgent task to carry out: to mobilize the ideals of a free society in an independent research and educational institution that would carry on those principles regardless of political trends.
As an elderly man, in a memo that he marked "Strictly Confidential" and sent only to his closest colleagues and friends, Mises wrote that the U.S. and the world desperately needed a new and stable center of classically liberal learning, one that would not be buffeted by the changing winds of politics but could serve as a permanent sanctuary and a beacon to the world.
Mises died before his dream could begin to become true, with the establishment of the Mises Institute. But in 1982, the dream he wrote about came true. The Mises Institute is that permanent home for liberty, hosting scholars from all over the world, and backing research and economic education. The Institute's beautiful facilities serve as a magnificent setting for research and intellectual productivity. The setting is local and intimate but the influence is global: translations of our articles and books appear on a weekly basis. Academic journals talk of a "Mises revival" as an obvious, if incredible, fact.
Building the Future
The work to complete Mises's vision began when we purchased land immediately behind and to the side of the existing Institute building in Auburn. Now complete, the new building features a far larger library and research area; two lecture halls, expanded seminar and work space; a retail bookstore; faculty and graduate student offices, a conservatory; and, on the outside, an additional study garden and another formal lecture area.
A huge storage area gives us space to house our growing archives of the papers of Mises, Murray N. Rothbard, as well as archives of great nineteenth-century figures in the same tradition of thought. We also have the papers of Robert Lefevre of the Freedom School and Rampart College.
These works are treasures, and they are essential for any scholar who seeks to understand the history of libertarian ideas. The Mises Campus has made it possible to turn this vast collection into a world-class archive and to house other important acquisitions.
The new facilities enable us to host scholars from all over the world, as well as students who are seeking our programs. It allows us to be what Mises wanted: a stable and independent institution of liberal learning, staffed by the best faculty and recruiting as students young people who carry forth his vision.
The walkways, gardens, and fountains of the courtyard provide a quiet place for study. They feature personalized bricks from many donors. Among the spaces in the Charles and Thelma Dixon Building and the Parthenia de Muralt Building are such areas as the James M. Wolfe Lecture Hall, and Wolfe Veranda, the William W. Massey Library, the Christopher P. Condon Lecture Hall, the Quinten E. and Marian L. Ward Conservatory, Ward Library, and Ward Sound Studio, the Louis E. Carabini Hospitality Center, the Frederick L. Maier Arboretum, the W. Roy and Gretta Hogan Amphitheater, and Hogan Graduation Area, the Gary G. Schlarbaum Seminar Room, the William A. and Helen Diehl Bookstore, the Leon and Mary Podles Study Garden, and the Alice B. Lillie Rothbard Sculpture.
There are also academic work areas named in honor of John A. Halter, Brant and Patty Newsom, Douglas E. French, Mrs. Marie Louise Smith, Albert B. Tucker, the Frank Turner Kurzweg Family, Ross Anderson, Richard Bleiberg, Barry Conner, Willard and Donna Fischer, Jack Monett, James M. Rodney, Charles and Anne-Lisbeth Sebrell, Ty L. Taylor, and Leland and Mickey Young.
In Mises's view, economics was not just for students and faculty. He considered the study of economics a "civic duty," the responsibility of every citizen. The growth that has been made possible by generous donors makes our programs accessible to everyone, with new technologies and new methods. The Mises Campus is even more the center of learning for now and the future.
Mises wrote in Human Action:
"The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused."