Apparently several professors at schools such as Marshall University. See the Chronicle of Higher Education piece here.
I have been teaching out of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged since my graduate student days. I usually contrast the book with other literary treatments of economic conditions. This semester the students are required to do a literary analysis of Atlas Shrugged and The Grapes of Wrath. Next term the students in my Honors Course will be reading Defoe, Dickens and Rand. And the literary assessment is to be grounded in economics.
Atlas Shrugged is a very sophisticated treatment of economic issues. It is hard-hitting on both points of the moral foundations of capitalism and the logic of economic analysis. But the teacher need not be a preacher in using the book, he/she can use the book as a teaching tool. Heck, I have used Nickel and Dimed as a teaching tool. That book is hard-hitting in its moral indictment, but unfortunately as unimformed on the basics of economic teaching as one could find. It is actually a GREAT teaching tool for undergraduates because the book is so bad on economics, but so colorful on other aspects.
So here is my bottom line --- a set of empirical propositions about professors and protest on books. Outsdie of the context of small liberal arts colleges (which I understand are different beasts) I would make the following observations subject to refutation:
(1) Professors that object to books being used in a class have not written a book of their own;
(2) Professors that voluntarily involve themselves with facutly governance and currciulum issues have not received an invitation to present their research at another university in the recent past;
(3) Any professor who spends their time worrying about the undue influence of books on students shouldn't be a professor because they don't understand what it means to really read and analyze a book.
Teaching is not preaching, it is trying to get students to think for themselves and critically engage the material. Fast Food Nation, Nickle and Dimed, No Logo, Shock Doctrine, Downsize This, etc. have all been picked as freshman required reading by colleges across the US. If an economist who had to teach from those books reacted the way the Marshall University "professors" are reacting, they would be rather poor economists and certainly abysmal professors. A Marxist professor should embrace the challenge of taking Rand seriously and showing his/her students where Ms. Rand went logically wrong in her discussion of the consequences of on economic productivity of the new distribution rules at the 20th Century Motor Company, just as the middle-of-the-road liberal professor ought to cherish the opportunity to demonstrate the leaps in logic that Ms. Rand supposedly takes when analyzing the dynamics of interventionism she explains as the economy is wrecked by 1 regulation after another in her story. To run away from this challenge is to admit intellectual defeat.
So who is afraid of Ayn Rand? Only those who don't have the intellectual skill or gumption to meet the challenge of her claims on their world view. And if that is the case, we don't want them teaching our college students anyway.