ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE EDUCATION: ANNUAL MEETING 2016
Panel 3.E.6: "Establishing a Successful Academic Center"
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Charlie Ruger, Charles Koch Foundation
Howard Wall, Lindenwood University
- Steve Gohmann, University of Louisville
Lindenwood Professor Howard Wall on leveraging Koch name as legal threat:
It’s mostly inside the university where you get some resistance from administrators getting the power to decide how money is spent, and they say ‘oh, you have to do this.’ And then I’ve used the phrase, ‘are you sure that the Koch foundation’s lawyers will read that the same way you are?’ And then they figure well they must have pretty good lawyers.
Lindenwood Professor Howard Wall on doing grunt work for university to encourage resources:
And the more problems that there are, these are actually more opportunities. These are easy to do. The more problems there are, you can choose the easiest ones to do, and use a little bit of time to solve fairly large problems. Or, certainly solve a lot of problems, mostly for other people. So if the only thing you have is time, you better be spending it helping others, not just yourself. Because you’re hoping at some point to actually get some resources.
Lindenwood Professor Howard Walls on whitewashing “evil things”
We had to come up with some sort of overarching theme. And looking back, there was sort of a theme that gelled over time. But we started with the second part of this. We wanted to just confuse the heck out of the rest of the university.
And then looking back, we called that “Social Justice through Free Markets and Liberty.” Right? Which is just, you know, if you’re a free market institute and the rest of the university thinks you’re all sorts of evil things…and you’re only some of those evil things [laughter - inaudible]
Professors confirm Koch contracts hide stipulations by contracting trusted professors to run Koch-funded operations:
HOWARD WALL: The donor intent is vested in the director of the institute that is getting the funding. So the university doesn’t have to pay any attention to donor intent, because it’s not their job to maintain it, all the decision making power is with the institute or the center, and then that’s it. And then, if there’s a problem, if the director’s not doing it, then the Foundation gets to review it regularly. But then that takes it all away, you don’t have to ask permission or justify it at all. […] They’re not telling us what to do, on a daily basis, it’s just the broad mission, it’s being fulfilled, and it works fine.
STEVE GOHMAN: This is why it’s a five year agreement instead of an endowment. If it’s an endowment, as soon as we leave as the directors, they’ll say ‘oh, we got ten million dollars, let’s go spend it on political science or something else…sociology,’ but if the money’s just coming in annually, either the money is spend how it’s supposed to be spent or it isn’t coming in.
Lindenwood U professor Howard Wall on Koch altering his APEE presentation title:
WALL: Now, the title of the talk is ‘Building a successful center on a shoestring budget,’ and that was actually a compromised title. I’m bringing up the title that was nixed by the Koch foundation…
CHARLIE RUGER: “…in a way that totally consistent with faculty governance and academic freedom.” [laughter]
Lindenwood U professor Howard Wall on unreported Koch grant, end of 2015:
By the end of 2015, we negotiated funding from the Charles Koch Foundation. The check cleared, by the way, in January, in case you were worried, Charlie [Ruger]. [laughter]
Lindenwood Professor Howard Wall indicates $1m grant changed his center’s mission:
In the summer of 2013, we hit a jackpot of sorts. Well actually, quite a jackpot. We got a million dollar gift from John Hammond, who was a longtime member of our board of directors. And he went to establish the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise. So our new mission was to foster free enterprise and civil and religious liberty, through the examination of market-oriented approaches to economic and social issues.
Lindenwood U professor Howard Wall on Rex Sinquefield KKK debacle:
And since I didn’t have a budget for speakers, I just took advantage of whatever free speakers were out there. I gave a couple of talks myself. We just gathered together whatever local business people were around and had panels.
And also a local luminary, Rex Sinquefeld, who is the Charles Koch of Missouri, where he’s a big supporter of free market ideas and I’m one of his research fellows. So we had him in, which was great because he made an unfortunate stumble of a joke that involved the origin of public schools and the Ku Klux Klan, which I won’t go into. But this did not fare well in terms of press, but it was great for us ‘cause we had protestors and the university president had to give an apology to the public over this presentation so, we’re on the map. [laughter]
U of Louisville professor Steve Gohmann on finding Koch after BB&T and APEE:
I came here to APEE, well I’ve been to APEE before but, here in 2008 and John Allison received one of the big awards. And said, you know, ‘we’re endowing chairs and placing our footprint...’ [inaudible]
It went up to him afterwards. I said, ‘Hey John, I’ve been using Atlas Shrugged in my Labor Economics class for years. You know...you got any money?’ He said, ‘Send me a letter,’ so I did. He sent me a letter and he said, ‘I’ll give you a million dollars.’ So I went to my dean. I said, ‘hey, I got a million dollars. I mean, it’s gonna be an endowed chair for me…’ You know, deans are happy to take anybody’s money, pretty much. And so I got the endowed chair which then got me on the road to getting funding from the Koch foundation to do programming.
U of Louisville professor Steve Gohmann on plugging into IHS:
I had a debate that I did jointly with the Institute for Humane Studies. Take advantage of these other groups, in terms of letting them help you put together programming. They’ve got a lot of connections I don’t have so it made it much more easy for me to organize things.
U of Louisville professor Steve Gohmann on getting students to support sweatshop labor:
“Second semester we did “Out of Poverty,” Ben Powell’s book. It’s a really nice thing if you’ve got books, and there’s living people, and they come talk. It’s really cool, you read the books, you bring them in and have them give a big public lecture and then talk to the students and it has a lot of impact. They really liked his book, a lot of students said ‘man, it changed my mind about sweatshops.’
U of Louisville professor Steve Gohmann assigns Koch’s book, seems to parrot the message:
We read Conscious Capitalism, that’s John Mackey’s book. And then we read Charles Koch’s “Good Profit.” It’s interesting, the contrast between the two books, kind of the same thing but Mackey’s more promoting Whole Foods and stuff, but Charles Koch’s book is just, ‘here’s how you do business in a moral way.’ And a lot of people don’t understand that this is what our centers are about: how to do business in a moral way. I write editorials about economic freedom and say ‘this is good for society, it’s good for the little man.’
U of Louisville professor Steve Gohmann on donor intent:
Cause donors are going to look at, well, what have you done? And what are your student successes? Cause I’m a donor, and I don’t care if you have all this research, you have this long [inaudible] and stuff. What I think—and I wouldn’t know,I don’t have any money so don’t ask me, but—what I think a donor is really…they want to give money, they want to see students coming out thinking, ‘markets work really well, we need more free enterprise.’
Charles Koch Foundation officer Charlie Ruger explains Freedom Partners higher ed network:
And so we partner with universities to build new capabilities. A lot of the time that means building capacity for new tenure-track faculty lines, visiting assistant professorships, research assistants, Ph.D fellowships, and then all the other, sort of, support and infrastructure that a new academic enterprise will need.
That can mean administrative services, dedicated knowledge capability, media outreach, communications director, that sort of thing. And we do all this because we’ve made observations about how to have a disproportionate impact given how outnumbered we all are.
So the Koch foundation now is supporting 53 major multi-million dollar, multi-year commitments in conjunction almost one hundred percent of the time with other donors to build these major new academic initiatives.
Charles Koch Foundation officer Charlie Ruger on New $19m bundle to Texas Tech:
Just to give you a quick sense, that project is $19 million dollars to faculty in six different departments. The idea being that the Center can be a certain kind of thought leader in three areas: what he calls ‘the war on young,’ by which he means entitlement reform, corporate welfare, and then innovation and technology, which works well in the Austin area. We think we can have an impact at the national level. We’ve only provided a small amount of seed funding against the nineteen million dollar total, it’s a great fundraising opportunity and Ryan’s a great guy so hopefully he’ll be here next year
Charles Koch Foundation officer Charlie Ruger on GMU Scalia Law School
You may have seen this most recent announcement: we partnered with an anonymous donor to give thirty million dollars to George Mason University School of Law. It’s very exciting to us. A lot of it goes to fund scholarships but since all that money, all those resources are fungible, it really means that the university can hire twelve new law professors.
Charles Koch Foundation officer Charlie Ruger on UnKoch and Open Records:
Transparency is one thing. The reason that groups like UnKoch My Campus are engaging in abusive open records law is not for the sake of transparency, it’s for the sake of intimidation and bullying, and to put academic freedom at risk. So if you’re a faculty member and you have an idea, this group’s sole purpose is to ensure that you’re not allowed to pursue that idea by shutting down.
And so we’re all for the idea of transparency, we’ve got nothing to hide, there’s nothing untoward happening. All of our philanthropy is based on faculty governance, academic freedom and donor intent, and those things aren’t in conflict.
But every time a bully knocks on the door, we’re not just gonna give them what they ask for. They’re gonna have to go through this process and reveal themselves for what they are. They’re going to file lawsuits and drag these professors into court, as a signal to the next professor who wants to do something innovative or entrepreneurial. ‘If you do that, we’ll sue you, and all of your emails will become public.’
Our position on that is, no, don’t give them anything they ask for, till they go through that process. It makes them look foolish that they file lawsuits, they hire attorneys, and then they get nothing. Over time, I think they’re gonna learn, this is an overuse of open records laws. But we don’t wanna just give them something for free. What they’re about is not transparency.
Charlie Ruger, Charles Koch Foundation
Howard Wall, Lindenwood University
Q&A with CKF's Charlie Ruger
Steve Gohmann, University of Louisville