George Mason University: Koch's Ground Zero

George Mason University

George Mason University in Virginia, just 20 miles from Washington D.C., is ground zero for Koch influence in higher education. The George Mason University Foundation has received over $45 million from the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) since 2005, which accounts for half of all their giving to higher education. The university has also received an additional $28 million from CKF to George Mason think thanks: the Mercatus Center received $9,847,500 and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) $18,456,861.

Since August of 2014, students have been requesting access to the gift agreements, grand agreements, and MOUs that George Mason University has with the Charles Koch Foundation, but they have been repeatedly denied. The lack of transparency at GMU makes students believe their university is more interested in hiding their relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation than being held responsible to their students and the university community.

Students started researching Koch influence on campus in 2012. In the Summer of 2014 students concerned with this influence launched GMU Transparency, a campaign focused on holding the university accountable for any undue influence from private donors and creating a more transparent community. Students have collected signatures from alumni, students, faculty and other concerned community members. GMU Transparency has asked for meetings with President Cabrera on numerous occasions, to begin this important dialogue and have been ignored at every opportunity. GMU Transparency has requested meetings with President Angel Cabrera on numerous occasions, but the president has been unwilling to meet.


OCT. 10 2016
RT - Thom Hartmann Show 


OCT. 6 2016
Washington Post,  Justices, academics dedicate Scalia law school

Skeptics, including some of George Mason’s faculty and students, said the gift and the renaming showed that donors were wielding undue influence over Virginia’s largest public university. Protesters displayed a banner on a sidewalk along Fairfax Drive, outside the law school, Thursday morning as people gathered for the dedication. “Protect Public Ed Not Private Interests,” it said.

“Our concerns have been ignored by the leadership of George Mason University,” one of the demonstrators, sophomore Janine Gaspari, said.

OCT. 6, 2016
WJLA, Justice Kagan praises Scalia at law school renaming ceremony, 

George Mason University officials announced plans to change the name shortly after Scalia died in February. The move was tied to a $10 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation and a $20 million matching grant from an anonymous donor that is contingent on renaming the school.
The GMU faculty senate passed a resolution in April that questioned the change, and some opponents urged the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia to reject it. But the council said in May it had no oversight role in the matter.
About 30 students, faculty, alumni and Virginia taxpayers protested the undue influence they believe donors have on what they're taught at GMU which is a public school. They want a faculty review of donor agreements.
"It's about the strings that are attached to the money and not who the donations are from. Yet again our voices were ignored," said Janine Gaspari, a sophomore at George Mason University.

SEPT. 30, 2016
Bloomberg, Protest Planned for Scalia Law School Ceremony

“We do not believe the administration has addressed student and faculty concerns raised about the university’s relationship with private donors,” [UnKoch's Samantha] Parsons said in the release.


Older Media

Daily Kos, George Mason University President to Charles Koch: “I am nothing but incredibly grateful”, Connor Gibson, April 9th, 2015

ABC News, George Mason becomes favorite of Charles Koch, Matthew Barakat, April 1st, 2016

Fourth Estate, Cabrera no show remains unexplained, Reem Nadeem, March 24, 2015

Fourth Estate, “Ask Dr. Cabrera” form centers on Koch donations, Ellen Glickman, February 4, 2015

Forbes, UnKoch protests spread across the nation, Chloe Sorvino, November 4th, 2014

Fourth Estate, Cabrera talks golf game, squirrels and Koch funding in “AMA”, Avery Powell, September 11, 2014

Inside Higher Ed, Not just Florida State, Dan Berrett, June 8th 2011


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