Philanthropist Makes $1B Promise

George Soros plans worldwide network of universities
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2020 5:15 PM CST
Soros Drops $1B to 'Stop Drift Away From Democracy'
In this June 21, 2019 file photo, George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, looks before the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

(Newser) – George Soros made a big promise Thursday, and it's gonna cost him. The wealthy philanthropist announced he'll donate $1 billion toward liberal-arts education in a worldwide network of universities, the Guardian reports. It will be "the most important and enduring project of my life," he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His goal isn't just to educate, he said, but to boost liberal values and push back against what he sees as rising authoritarianism in China, Russia, and the US. He also slammed President Trump, calling him a "con man and the ultimate narcissist who wants the world to revolve around him."

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The 89-year-old said his plan, the Open Society University Network, will involve universities collaborating to create curricula and degree programs that foster a free society, per the Wall Street Journal. It will build on his Central European University in Vienna and be led by Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The promise came as another Davos speaker, David Miliband, warned Friday that the GDP of autocratic governments is higher than that of democracies for the first time in 120 years, per Yahoo Finance. "The age of impunity is here, and it's dangerous," said the public policy analyst. "Everything goes, and the law is for suckers. ... The most basic rights are under threat." (Read more George Soros stories.)

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