Last month the provost of Western Carolina University (located in North Carolina) requested that the public school’s chancellor approve a private non-profit Academic Center funded by the Charles Koch Foundation. Charles Koch is the CEO and co-owner of the Koch Industries oil and chemical corporation. The chancellor has since announced their support just before the school’s trustees final vote to determine the fate of the Academic Center on December 4th.
The proposed agreement has met resistance from the school’s facility senate voting 21-3 to oppose the academic center due to concerns regarding the academic freedom, cost, reputation and overall lack of peer review.
“The Charles Koch Foundation has previously set forth explicit expectations in line with their political views in exchange for monetary gifts to universities,” the faculty senate said in a statement, “thereby constraining academic freedom by influencing and interfering with the development of new knowledge.”
The proposed academic center at WCU (Western Carolina University) is in conjunction with an ongoing campaign sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation to influence higher education initiatives. In previous years the Koch Foundation with three other groups led by Koch has given nearly $108 million to 366 colleges and universities between 2005 and 2014. These statistics have been accumulated from an institute for Southern Studies investigation, building on prior research provided by Greenpeace. The two other groups participating in the funding is the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation and the Claude R Lambe Foundation.
85% of the donations ($91 million) was distributed to a total of 147 colleges and universities located in the south. $77 million of the $91 million went specifically to the George Mason University, a public school located in Fairfax, Virginia. These funds were primarily used in the school’s Mercatus Center and institute for Human Studies, non-profits housed at the university. These non-profits focus on the education and promotion of free-market economics.
The other top contributions went to South Florida State University with $2.3 million, West Virginia University with $1.3 million, Clemson University of South Carolina with $1.3 million and Troy University of Alabama with $1.1 million.