Much More on the Koch Centers


Writing for AlterNet, Alex Kotch explains in great detail “Charles Koch’s Six-Step Guide to Founding a Free-Market Center at Your University.” The article is based on recordings made at a Koch-sponsored conference.

Here is a substantial portion of the introductory section of Kotch’s article:

“Since 1980, the family foundations of billionaire industrialist Charles Koch have gifted roughly $200 million to U.S. colleges and universities, largely to promote libertarian, free-market economics programs around the nation. Koch gave $108 million of that total to 366 colleges and universities between 2005 and 2014, according to the Institute for Southern Studies. Koch and his brother, David, who are well known for their vast, conservative political spending network, own Koch Industries, a giant conglomerate composed of companies that sell gas, pipelines, chemicals, minerals, paper and textiles, among other products. The brothers have fervently opposed taxation and regulation for decades.

“At the root of Koch’s strategy to turn America into a tax- and regulation-free society is his effort to reshape higher education. Since the 1970s, Koch has carried out his “Structure of Social Change,” funding free-market academic centers, courses, professors, graduate students, scholarships, lecture series and summer programs. His funding generates academic output in line with his own laissez-faire ideology, work that free-market think tanks, which he funds, repackage into easily digestible policy initiatives. Then, “citizen activist” groups—actually ‘social welfare’ organizations that he and his wealthy conservative friends heavily finance—pressure lawmakers and the public to get on board with these policies.

“In the final steps, which Koch and his right-hand man, Richard Fink, did not outline in their original social change scheme, webs of Koch-funded political spending groups pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections, installing the far-right politicians they can count on to propose and sign the tax-slashing, regulation-killing legislation written or inspired by the think tanks’ output.

“Koch and his allies are founding increasingly more free-market academic centers at colleges and universities. Leaked audio recordings (#Kochileaks) from the latest annual Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) conference, which brings together Koch-funded professors, think tank ‘scholars’ and big-business representatives, shine a light into how the centers come to life. Members of the activist group UnKoch My Campus attended the April event and recorded several panels of professors in the Koch academic network who shared strategies for how to found these centers, fund them with massive private donations and maintain donor intent. Administrators with the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), the primary Koch family foundation giving educational grants and funding APEE and its conferences, explained their pivotal role in these university-donor agreements.

“AlterNet previously detailed the inner workings of the APEE meetings, where hundreds of free-market academics out of the roughly 5,000 total in the Koch higher education network meet. Many attendees come from schools heavily funded by CKF, especially George Mason University, which has received the greatest amount of support from Koch and which sent 49 students, professors and fellows to this year’s conference, more than 10 percent of the participants.

“According to CKF director of university investments Charlie Ruger, the foundation is funding roughly 225 tenure-track professors at 53 or more free-market academic centers. And CKF and its donor partners have committed about $170 million ‘in resources’ over the ‘next five or six years to these center projects.’”


The six steps, which are described at considerable length and with substantive illustrations, are:

Step 1: Start a Center (or Take Over an Existing One)

Step 2: Create an Advisory Board

Step 3: Bring In Private Donations

Step 4: Preserve Donor Intent

Step 5: Keep the Donor Agreement Secret

Step 6: Feed the “Structure of Social Change”


Alex Kotchs complete article is very much worth reading and is available at:



2 thoughts on “Much More on the Koch Centers

  1. It’s amusing how certain humanities faculty ranks have essentially become fever swamps for conspiracy theories about higher ed. Call it ‘The Paranoid Style in American English Departments,’ I suppose…

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