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With state universities facing budget cuts, the Charles G. Koch Foundation is ready to "help"

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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 09:47 PM
Original message
With state universities facing budget cuts, the Charles G. Koch Foundation is ready to "help"
Edited on Sun May-08-11 09:48 PM by highplainsdem
I posted a topic a few weeks ago about some members of the staff at Koch-funded Northwood University co-authoring an opinion piece promoting ALEC ideas with an ALEC director. But that was a private university with a clearly stated ideology.

Tonight, while checking Google News, I ran across the first of two opinion pieces on how Charles Koch's foundation is "helping" Florida state universities. What I read first was a defense of this help, but it raised as many questions as it answered so I looked for the original opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat by Ray Bellamy (a physician who's on the faculty of the Florida State University College of Medicine) and Kent S. Miller (professor emeritus of psychology at Florida State University):

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20110501/OPINION05/1...

Universities deal with political economics
Ray Bellamy and Kent S. Miller My View Published: May 01. 2011 2:00AM


-snip-

Two of the more visible corporations making substantial contributions to universities are the Koch brothers and BB&T. The brothers are owners of the second-largest privately held corporation in the U.S. and are much in the news because of efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc. BB&T is a large financial services corporation that frequently teams up with Koch.

Both corporations have worked out agreements with colleges and universities across the country, many of them being controversial. George Mason University received over $23 million from Koch brothers foundations to hire seven libertarian professors, subjecting the college to the charge that the university had been "bought." Guilford College accepted a 10-year, $500,000 grant from BB&T, along with the following strings: an upper-level interdisciplinary course requiring the assignment of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" in its entirety, and the commitment of the college to annually (until the year 2019) give a copy of the book to every student who majors either in business or economics when that student enters his or her junior year. Meredith College faculty rejected a $420,000 "gift" that the college president had negotiated with a BB&T foundation on the grounds that the college needed to retain control over course curricula. Incidents of this latter kind abound, but fall far behind the number of instances in which the corporations have gotten the traction they wanted with the schools.

-snip-

In 2008, the foundation signed a memorandum of agreement with FSU in which they committed to a proposed budget of $6.5 million over a period of six years, with most of the effort to be located in the economics department. The provisions called for the hiring of five professors and other staff; establishing a program for the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and a program for Excellence in Economic Education (EEE); and the development of educational programs for undergraduate students.

-snip-

In order to preserve and safeguard the philanthropic and educational intent of the CGK Foundation an advisory board will be created consisting of three members chosen by CGK Foundation.

-snip-



That advisory board is the key to all the other strings attached to this deal. That advisory board gets to review the material submitted by the applicants, determine which candidates qualify, and oversee the development of undergraduate programs the Kochs are funding.


David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at FSU, responded to their opinion piece with another opinion piece in the Tallahassee Democrat:

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20110508/OPINION05/1...

Philanthropy, academic freedom can co-exist
David W. Rasmussen My View Published: May 08. 2011 2:00AM


-snip-

Florida's universities have experienced budget cuts in the past five consecutive legislative sessions.

In this context, Miller and Bellamy criticize Florida State University for entering into agreements with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the BB&T Charitable Foundation, which enable the university to hire professors, assist the economics department in attracting some of the best and brightest graduate students, and provide Ph.D. graduates with an unprecedented opportunity for career-enhancing post-doctoral scholarships. In addition, courses were made available to hundreds of students because these foundations' gifts offset a small portion of the budget cuts FSU suffered.

Miller and Bellamy incorrectly assert that FSU's economics department struck "an agreement with the Charles G. Koch Foundation." In fact, the agreement was among Florida State University, the Florida State University Foundation and the Koch Foundation. This agreement was carefully vetted by the university's senior administration and attorneys to ensure that no decision-making processes at the university would be compromised.

Miller and Bellamy wrote that, "If things turned out well for FSU it has to have involved some skillful maneuvering." There is no "skillful maneuvering" required because, at every stage of implementation of this agreement, FSU faculty retain control. Further, the terms agreed upon by FSU and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation were purposefully designed to ensure academic freedom. It is the faculty who approve all hires, who approve all Ph.D. admissions, who grade all preliminary examinations of Ph.D. students with their identities concealed and who annually review all faculty members independent of the source of funding.

-snip-



Rasmussen's defense of the arrangement, while asserting that "it is the faculty that approves all hires," ignores the very salient point that the advisory board appointed by the Koch Foundation reviews the applications and decides which qualify. Basically, from the sound of this, they get pre-approval and the faculty can then choose from those who already have been vetted by CGK.

Which makes the final decision by the faculty less important, and much less independent.

Rasmussen's attempt to make this defense reminds me of seeing a recent defense of ALEC's model legislation that emphasized that a board of members who are legislators make the final decision. That defense left out the fact that model bills never reach that board until ALEC's corporate members approve them.

Maybe Rasmussen just didn't do a very good job of clarify this arrangement between Florida universities and the Charles G. Koch Foundation. But he hasn't refuted the points made by the two professors who expressed their concern in the earlier opinion piece, and this does sound like too much control of state university faculty and curriculum by a Koch-controlled advisory board.
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. Like the spat over the Lee Bass gift to Yale in the early 1990's
The donor gave Yale 20 million $ to start a Western civilization program, but then he started demanding the right to hire the faculty. At that point Yale called off the program and gave back the money.
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tsuki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Don't expect FSU to do that. nt
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Snoutport Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 10:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. This is chilling.... we must get rid of these kochroaches!
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Liberal_in_LA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. +1000
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
12. And we will! Read what Pelosi, Reid and the Obama admin have promised to do about them:
Edited on Wed May-11-11 12:15 PM by Dr Fate
LOL! Made you look.

When you find whatever it is they doing about the Kochs (besides extending their tax breaks), let me know.
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Beth in MN Donating Member (34 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-08-11 11:00 PM
Response to Original message
5. List of universities supported by Charles G Koch Foundation May 2011
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-09-11 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Thanks for the link!
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Snoutport Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-10-11 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. O......M.......G that scares the $*#&* out of me!
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-10-11 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Welcome to DU!
And yes, that is scary.
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Welcome to DU, Beth! (Sorry I didn't notice earlier that you're new here.)
I really appreciate the links you're posting. Very helpful info!
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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
9. kick
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 12:08 PM
Response to Original message
11. Here is a link with responses from Reid, Pelosi and the Obama admin:
Edited on Wed May-11-11 12:16 PM by Dr Fate
LOL! Made you look!

Gee, for all the evil things the Koch brothers do, I cant find much on Reid, Pelosi or the Obama admin. directly addressing the awful things they do, or doing much to expose them.

All I've seen DEM leadership do about "the Koch Brothers" is to give them massive tax breaks of the likes they will never give to me.

I guess I have to give more money to the DEMS who gave the Koch Brothers all my tax money so that the same DEMS can..errr, fight them or something.

HEADS UP! Democrats- we must fight the Koch Brothers before...errr, the Democrats give them more tax breaks to use against us Democrats!
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