As we all know, universities around the country are in financial trouble. Many states have been cutting funding to their public universities, forcing the schools to do more with less. So it’s understandable that administrators would be on the lookout for new sources of funding—including wealthy donors. In “Fine Print, Restrictive Grants, and Academic Freedom,” Kent S. Miller and Ray Bellamy discuss the controversy that arose when the Charles Koch Foundation gave a major gift to Florida State University—with major strings attached.
In 2007, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation gave FSU $1.5 million to start programs within the economics department that would promote the Koch brothers’ extreme-free-market ideology. Bellamy and Miller point out that this donation wasn’t a “gift” in the traditional sense, because the Foundation imposed numerous conditions on the donation. The Foundation would appoint a board of advisors that would determine which faculty would be funded and would review the work of the professors within the program. Many observers feared that the Koch Foundation was essentially buying control of part of the economics program.
As universities’ finances continue to struggle, stories like this one could become more common. Read the full story in Academe and learn how to make sure a situation like this doesn’t develop on your campus.