The Advantages of Free Markets: The Phil Smith Center Welcomes National Speakers

By Andrew Garrison | 11/20/2023

Tags: Bulletins | Economics | Phil-Smith
Categories: Academics | Faculty/Staff | Initiatives


Armstrong Williams Guest Speaker

This fall, the Phil Smith Center for Free-Enterprise welcomed two guest speakers to draw attention to aspects of business often swept under the rug. Terms typically limited to news headlines, such as inflation, unemployment, and productivity, became more accessible to College of Business students this semester. 

On November 7th ,the Phil Smith Center welcomed Armstrong Williams. A political commentator, entrepreneur, and writer, Williams has more than made good use of the free market. Born in rural South Carolina, Armstrong is now the largest broadcast television owner in the United States. Students were able to glean how Williams used the free market to his advantage by using his entrepreneurial spirit and unparalleled work ethic to establish one of the most successful national holdings companies. In addition, attendees of Armstrong’s speech received a copy of his latest book “Crisis in the Classroom,” co-authored with former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. Armstrong was also awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurial Ability.

Dean Daniel Gropper, Ph.D., commented on the events: “Both Daniel and Armstrong reflect what is possible under a free-market society. We look forward to the continued promotion of these ideas with more guest speakers in the coming months.”

Our October event featured Daniel Di Martino, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Colombia University and advocate for free market economics. Di Martino delivered a sobering warning of the pitfalls associated with socialist policies to more than 250 students during Dr. Monica Escaleras’ Principles of Macroeconomics course. Born and raised in Venezuela, Di Martino witnessed firsthand the damaging effects socialism inflicts on the day-to-day lives of citizens: grocery stores devoid of essential products, routine gas shortages, and a general fragility of institutions. Though daunting, Di Martino drew attention to the fact that socialism, or the often newly coined term “democratic socialism, “does not result in equality, stability, and harmony but rather causes division, friction, and discord.

Daniel di Martino and Armstrong Williams add to the list of free-enterprise speakers. Arthur Laffer, former economic advisor to President Ronald Regan, and Professor Christina Skinner, a lecturer on capitalism and financial markets, presented on the advantages of the free market in November 2022 and April 2023 respectively.

The Phil Smith Center for Free-Enterprise is named in recognition of FAU College of Business graduate, Phil Smith. Smith, a native of South Florida and leading Broward County businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist took risks in business and invested in people. After graduating from FAU in 1969, Smith went on to establish Phil Smith Management, Inc., operating 11 automobile dealership locations representing 25 franchises in Florida and North Carolina. Smith’s story demonstrates the possibilities open to anyone in a free-enterprise system to be entrepreneurial, work hard and pursue their dreams. The Phil Smith Center, designated as an Oasis of Excellence by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), seeks to advance Smith’s desire to educate future business leaders on the principles of free enterprise and how those principles affect growth, prosperity, and opportunity. 

2023 Phil Smith Speaker Guests