Exposing the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE)

Charles Koch’s Network of Weaponized Professors

In 2016, UnKoch My Campus made recordings at the annual conference of a Koch funded academic association, the Association for Private Enterprise Education. This included several Koch moderated panels where Koch-funded professors confirm their role in the "integrated strategy," and describe the lengths they go in order to advance this strategy. 

Several professors spoke far-too candidly, about how to “take over” curriculum, majors, and hiring, and about using the classroom as “primarily as recruitment grounds” for Koch's liberty movement.

Speaking to room full of professors, the Koch foundation's Charlie Ruger was clear, “we want these great ideas of the APEE network to be applied, the way we think about it at least, across sort of an integrated structure of production for culture change,” to include “arranging state legislative testimony to make sure that, you know, these kinds of ideas have a seat on the table in public policy.”

See the 2016 conference program and a list of participants. Find our recordings and full transcripts here:

Being an Intellectual Entrepreneur” April 4, 2016
Successful Models of Programs in Private Enterprise” April 5, 2016
Establishing a Successful Academic Center” April 5 2016
"Being a Liberty-Advancing Academic” April 4, 2016
Scholarship at the Crossroads of Policy and Academia” April 5, 2016

Featured Session:
“Being an Intellectual Entrepreneur”

Brennan Brown - Charles Koch Foundation (
Session Chair),
George Crowley - Troy University,
Chris Surprenant - University of New Orleans,
Derek Yonai - Florida Southern College,
Joshua Hall - West Virginia University
Full Transcript)

APEE Logo B&W.png

At the 2016 meeting of the Association of Private Enterprise Education, Brennan Brown from the Charles Koch Foundation moderated a panel of professors from Koch funded university centers called “Being an Intellectual Entrepreneur (or Edupreneur).”

Dr. George Crowley from Troy University’s Manley Johnson Center described how a Koch’s donor partnership was able to “take over” curriculum, majors, and hiring at Troy, and how faculty have been using it as “recruitment grounds” for the liberty movement. He highlighted how Troy faculty engage in Alabama policy “fights,” including an attempt to “bring down the state pension system” and to address the “teacher union’s influence.”

In another panel, Troy’s Steve Miller described getting “more directly involved in state politics,” about to hire their second policy analyst for an office they’ve opened at Troy’s campus in the capital, Montgomery, and how faculty have already had “an audience with the governor’s staff” and with “different groups of legislators.”

The Manuel Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy university was founded by the Charles Koch Foundation, BB&T, and partner donor Manley Johnson. Johnson was identified as a participant in Koch’s 2010 donor summit.

Derek Yonai from Florida Southern College elaborated on how academic programming is designed to recruit for “the liberty movement” (identified as FEE, IHS, KIP, and KAP), acknowledging how “some people outsource to Students for Liberty” for recruitment. Yonai also details how he singles out students “who don’t fit in,” recruiting “footsoldiers” in a “fight for economic freedom,”  

Troy professors described how they use accreditation to leverage their presence on campus. The Johnson Center’s new director, Steve Miller, presented a talk entitled “How to leverage University and Faculty Resources” which encouraged “liberty advancing academics” to attain higher administrative roles like dean and provost, and to find ways to capitalize on open tenure-track hiring lines and endowed professorships. Dr. Josh Hall from West Virginia University generalizes, saying “I want co opt resources,” and get “as many people on the state of West Virginia resources as possible.”

Chris Surprenant from the University of New Orleans described how their escalating high school programming allows him to develop and filter students as early as “the admissions office,” and how he uses affirmative action to their “advantage.” Several panelists made use of language used in Koch’s Market Based Management, like “mental model.” Dr. Yonai specifically refers to his current practice of MBM principles of “local knowledge.” The Johnson Center openly seeks to integrate MBM as part of Troy’s professional programs.

First published May 2016, republished December 2018.