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Cash-strapped McGill University has rebuffed up to $1.8-million from a donor seeking to create a position in the school's philosophy department for the study of Ayn Rand, the author who espoused a radical brand of individualism.

Gilles Tremblay, an 81-year-old businessman and alumni, approached the university in 1999 with a proposal to create what academics call a "chair" by endowing in perpetuity a professorship.

But the university has refused to create the position to study the Russian-American author's novels such as Atlas Shrugged and non-fiction works that promote a strident philosophy of self-interest, minimalist government and laissez-faire capitalism.

Bernard Shapiro, McGill's principal, said the university would even reject a chair to study T.S. Eliot, because it's too narrow an area of research to be pursued in perpetuity. CP