History professor's deal with burrito joint went against school policy

Historians in the News

University of Montana assistant professor Kyle Volk worked out a deal with El Diablo, a Missoula Mexican restaurant, to sponsor one of his history classes, then learned it was against university policy.

On the projector screen was a logo for the local burrito and taco joint, El Diablo.

The same logo was printed on the class syllabus for “The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism,” and a sticker for El Diablo was clipped to it.

“I've never seen anything like it,” said Sara Ford, a freshman in the class.

Kyle Volk, an assistant professor of history, told students the course was sponsored by El Diablo.

Volk brokered the deal with the burrito shop, which made a $250 donation to the University of Montana history department. In return, he handed out El Diablo stickers, mentioned the business in class and printed its logo on the course syllabus.

El Diablo has never donated money to the university before, Volk said. And he wanted to pilot a sponsorship program with a local business.

But UM administrators said such advertising contradicts school policy.

History department Chairman Richard Drake said he didn't know in-class advertising was against school rules, but said the idea was never to challenge the university's policies.

According to Drake, the advertising was intended to send a message.

“I regarded this idea as a witty way to draw attention to the plight of this history department,” he said.

Last June, the department ran out of paper and toner for the copying machine, Volk said. Professors had to ride out the rest of the semester without printing or making copies.

“We're struggling for basic everyday needs,” he said, because of the rising cost of school supplies.

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Randll Reese Besch - 10/9/2008

Just as college graduates wear the logo of their corporate patron on their paste boards so now we have this. The incroachment of corporations into schools is in my opinion a bad deal. A deal with the proverbial devil so to speak.