News of the Faculty Resistance
BY UNKOCH RESEARCHER, RALPH WILSON, May 16, 2017
Following in the footsteps of Wake Forest University, George Mason University, and Western Carolina University, the faculty senates at Florida State University and Syracuse University have formed Ad Hoc committees to evaluate and strengthen their donor policies, as well as to investigate programming funded by the Charles Koch Foundation.
Florida State University
Following the release of our recent book-length report, Florida State University’s faculty senate passed a motion on April 26:
We resolve to create an ad hoc committee composed of any senator who wishes to take part, to review the findings of the Progress Coalition/UnKoch My Campus report, and to propose potential changes to FSU's existing gift acceptance and counting policies that will prevent donors from being granted undue influence over university activities.
That same day at Syracuse University, where the Koch foundation has created a Ph.D. program without the approval of the curriculum committee, a heated faculty debate followed the findings and recommendations of the faculty senate Committee on Research. The committee expressed concern that administrators and faculty refused to produce any documentation about Koch's program, and that the line between gifts and grants was “blurry.” The report’s motion was adopted, calling for “an ad-hoc Senate Committee be formed to look deeper into this issue.” The faculty committee concluded further:
that gifts/grants to establish courses and programs proceed only after approval from the Senate Committee on Curriculum, and the Graduate College in the case of Master and PhD degree tracks and programs. We also recommend that donors not be involved in decision-making related to curricula, the selection of fellows, or dissertation topics.
This followed the Syracuse’s Student Association's unanimous passage of a resolution calling on administrators and the Whitman College to make their Koch agreement public. If the university refused to make it public, students demanded that the Koch center be rejected altogether. Students also made their way onto the search committee for the search committee for the Dean of Whitman College to grill applicants about Koch and donor influence. A campus petition is now circulating widely, calling for the agreement to be released. Syracuse’s chapter of Democracy Matters has been an indispensable ally on campus.
Wake Forest University
These incredible events come just weeks after the Wake Forest University Faculty Senate passed motions proposed in their report of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, which include a call to release the Koch agreement immediately, to develop clear guidelines over the creation of centers and development of curriculum, and renew and activate faculty involvement in reviewing institutional contracts that impact curriculum. A month prior, WFU faculty heard the report of their faculty senate’s Ad Hoc committee, whose motion passed:
Due to the Charles Koch Foundation’s unprecedented effort and documented strategy to co-opt higher education for its ideological, political and financial ends, the Committee moves that Wake Forest University prohibit all Koch network funding for any of its centers or institutes.
Wake Forest faculty have been pushing back against attacks from the Koch-affiliated media attempting to discredit their work, but we continue to see that these detractors are wholly unable to take on the actual findings of these faculty reports and instead resort to name calling and straw-man arguments.
The faculty's findings include the fact that the Koch funded professor at their university was caught bragging about using "well being" as cover language for free market capitalism, and told a story about intentionally misleading a colleague in order to try to make Koch foundation money more palatable. They also reference the remarks make by Koch foundation officials at Koch's donor summits and conferences admitting the overtly political purposes of Koch funded academic programs.
Join the Resistance
Please share the Wake Forest faculty findings (Ad Hoc report, CAFR report) as well as UnKoch’s recent in-depth report on FSU with faculty at Koch-funded institutions.
These resources make for good summer reading. They are also broad enough to encourage an independent faculty investigation, an affirmation of faculty governance, and a tightening of donor policy on every campus across the country.