John H. Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise


The John H. Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise was founded in December 2015 based on a generous gift $10 million from the John H. Schnatter Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation to the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky. View the complete story on UKNow.

Perspective and Vision

History shows that free enterprise – as characterized by private ownership, economic freedom, choice, and competition – has been an important source of human prosperity, along with its companion institutions involving civil and political freedoms. Yet the true nature and meaning of free enterprise are often misunderstood and debates continue regarding the appropriate forms of social and economic organization.

Thus, the overarching vision of the Schnatter Institute is to:

  • Discover and understand aspects of free enterprise that promote the well-being of society;
  • Examine the role of governmental, legal, and political institutions in this regard;
  • To work toward these understandings in an intellectually rigorous way via use of logic and evidence, with open discussion and debate.

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Institute is comprised of three primary goals:

  1. To gain deep, accurate, and objective understandings of free enterprise vis-à-vis other systems of organizing the economy and society;
  2. To engage the academic and university communities, as well as the public, in a serious and sustained examination of free enterprise and related institutions in the numerous ways which they affects our lives;
  3. To foster understanding and appreciation of the inter-relationships among: modern economics and related social sciences, economic history and economic thought, public policy and the law, and various social institutions.


The Institute will support a host of research, teaching, and outreach activities:

  • coursework on Institute-related topics
  • sponsoring campus-wide speakers, public forums on policy issues, and research seminars and conferences
  • hosting visiting scholars
  • extracurricular reading groups for undergraduates and graduate students
  • reaching across campus regarding interdisciplinary academic programs and entrepreneurship curricula
  • community engagement through continuing education programs
  • supporting professional travel for graduate students and faculty
  • fellowship and research support for graduate students
  • faculty research funding

Rigorous research is an important backbone of the Institute and is essential for its intellectual gravitas. The Institute supports research and related projects that fit within the above described mission and goals. Though research projects may be on a variety of specific topics, each will relate and speak to the overarching vision, mission, and goals of the Institute.

Faculty Affiliates

John Garen, BB&T Professor of Economics and Director, Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise
Frank Scott, Gatton Endowed Professor of Economics
David Blackwell, Professor of Finance and Dean, Gatton College of Business and Economics
Aaron Yelowitz, Associate Professor of Economics
James Fackler, Professor of Economics