Details of Koch Donations Spur Review at George Mason

Agreements reportedly gave foundation 2 seats on some hiring committees
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2018 6:02 PM CDT
In this May 22, 2012, file photo, Charles Koch speaks in his office at Koch Industries in Wichita, Kan.   (Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

(Newser) – The Charles Koch Foundation donated millions to George Mason University, and newly released documents reveal that in exchange, the conservative foundation was granted some influence over the hiring and firing of professors. After the revelation, the president of the university ordered an inquiry into the school's gift acceptance policy, the New York Times reports. "Given the discovery of problematic gift agreements ... I have requested a thorough review of all active donor agreements supporting faculty positions throughout the university to ensure that they do not grant donors undue influence in academic matters," Ángel Cabrera wrote in an email to faculty and staff Monday night, per the Washington Post. Though he did not specifically name the Koch donations in the email, a university spokesman confirms to the Times that's what he was referencing.

Per the AP, the documents reveal agreements in which the Koch Foundation endowed"a fund to pay the salary of one or more professors at the university's Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank," and got the right to name two of the five members of each selection committee to choose the professors. The foundation reportedly had similar rights when it came to the committees formed to recommend a professor's dismissal. The documents were obtained after the group UnKoch My Campus filed a Freedom of Information Act Request. After the news broke, the Koch Foundation released a statement downplaying its influence and noting its current grant agreements do not include the same provisions. Cabrera also noted that all the agreements in question, which were made between 2003 and 2011, had expired except one, which has now been voided.

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