ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE EDUCATION: ANNUAL MEETING 2016
"SUCCESSFUL MODELS OF PROGRAMS IN PRIVATE ENTERPRISE"
TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 2016
- Session Chair: Gerald Gunderson, Trinity College
- Charlie Ruger, Charles Koch Foundation
- Steve Gohmann, University of Louisville
- John Garen, University of Kentucky
- Brad Thompson, Clemson University
HEAR RECORDINGS BELOW
The Charles Koch Foundation’s Charlie Ruger acknowledges overtly the way in which APEE is facilitating the Koch foundations "Structure of Social Change," clearly confirming the political purposes of their academic programming:
So, when we go to build new academic institutions in partnership with the universities, we’re doing it because in order to, you know, make a dent we’re gonna need to have a disproportionate impact.
it’s not just funding summer salaries or funding for individual research projects, it’s got to do with taking those ideas, taking that research, and bringing them out of the academy. So 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.
They can also play an interesting role in engaging with different kinds of stakeholders in these social institutions. That can mean arranging state legislative testimony to make sure that, you know, these kinds of ideas have a seat on the table in public policy.
And it’s not just the money, we also bring a network with us. So, the Charles Koch Foundation does a lot of funding of universities and higher education institutions over all, but we’ve got a constellation of network organizations that are focused on applying what comes out of universities to change the worl. And so, that’s sort of the core of the partnership. Money plus the network.
Ruger also confirmed the criticisms that donors are exerting undue contractual influence by retaining the right to decide annually whether to renew or withhold funding:
Everything we do is on an annual basis. So we want our partners to have certainty and be able to do long term programs and stuff. So we’ll say 'for the first 3 to 5 years of an investment, we’ll commit, formally, 3 or 4 million dollars or whatever it is and we do that with a coalition of stakeholders, a coalition of donors. And here’s what the university has said it would like to do with the money. If it does anything else with it, you know, ‘best of luck but the next check isn’t coming.’
Koch funded professors on the panel confirmed that this was their understanding. The director of the University of Louisville Koch Center, Dr. Steve Gohmann:
And I don’t worry about the university trying to steer the money away because they know that if they take that money, there won’t be money coming in the future. So this is the nice thing about getting money annually, is that the university is more beholden to let faculty do what we’re what we want to do with the money, which is, the donor also intends us to do, and because that money’s not there for them to grab onto and it won’t be coming the next year if they mess things up.
The Koch foundation’s Charlie Ruger (during the APEE 2016 panel) described the motivations of their partner donors:
CKF and our partners put together have committed about 170 million dollars in resources over, let’s say, the next 5 or 6 years to these center projects. Only about 40% of that comes from the Charles Koch Foundation. The rest comes from a network of business leaders from across the country who see our system of free enterprise as being in great peril, and they’re willing to put all of their resources, their fortunes, on the line, to help that not happen.
Ruger briefly gave an example of a donor partnership, citing their Koch's Kentucky free market centers with John "Papa John" Schnatter:
So, in the case of the University of Louisville with John Schnatter, Papa John’s is headquartered in Louisville. [...] And then University of Kentucky is sort of the same geographical region, he’s got a lot of business interests there, that kind of thin.
Schnatter has business interests in the state of Kentucky, the location of Papa John's U.S.A Inc., as it is also the location of Papa John’s legal troubles with labor regulations, including a years long, six state, class action lawsuit against Papa John's for an elaborate system of wage theft, violating minimum wage laws. Papa John's settled out of court for $12.3 million in 2015.
Schnatter was an attendee of Koch's Feb 2014 Freedom Partners donor summit in Palm Springs, CA. Documents reveal that at the 2014 summit, Schnatter had a one on one meeting with the Koch Foundation's director of Higher Education, Ryan Stowers. Ryan Stowers and John Garen are both listed as members of the executive committee of the (Association of Private Enterprise Education) APEE, according to most the organization’s most recent 990 tax forms.
John Garen discusses his Dean, describing him as “appreciative of free enterprise,” and “warming up to” the institute. Garen does not disclose that (according to information provided to the faculty) Dean Blackwell is listed first among five immanent hires to the institute.
So I’m fortunate to have a big group with me as well. And I’m also fortunate to have a dean who has been very supportive. He, well of course all deans like the funding. And we’re in a College of Business and I guess business school deans are more likely to be appreciative of free enterprise. It’s not uniform, but it’s been very rewarding. My dean is appreciates free enterprise, it’s been very rewarding to see how he’s, as we talk more and more about the programming, that we call it our institute what the institute wants to do. You can just see him warming up to it, and say 'oh, yeah this is great.' So it’s been very rewarding in that regard.
John Garen discusses the overly “narrow” and overly “technical” focus of the University of Kentucky’s Economics Ph.D program, as well as the department’s “narrow” and overly technical requirements for tenure track hires:
We’ve done a bit of having Summer reading groups for graduate students. We have a PhD in economics and as I’m sure you all know, the PhD in economics has become, the training has become very narrow and technical, and sometimes, well, oftentimes, students seem to lose the perspective of understanding about markets. [...] Now another big part of what we’re doing and this does present a challenge is we have funds to hire faculty. A lot of regular tenure track or tenured faculty and I have to work with not that I don’t like these people, but I am working with the economics department. And as you can imagine, the economics department in a research university has some very specific standards about what qualifies a person to be a tenure rack or a tenured faculty member, and it can be awfully narrow. And awfully technically oriented. S, and people who are sometimes narrow and technical, sometimes they are economists who think 'oh this is great stuff! Let’s go for it! Let’s publish it...Econometrica...blah blah blah, blah blah!' And depending on the topic, you know, I’ve kind of shrugged my shoulders and said 'okay, you know, you’ve got some great new method of moments estimator or something and the application is kind of meaningless and I don’t see any way to work that into anything of interest to the social sciences.' So I kind of have to be a bad guy and say, 'well okay, it’s technically good, but who cares? So if you want to hire him with a regular department of economics position...okay. I mean, I have a vote in that, but if we’re hiring someone who’s also gonna be affiliated with the institute, we need more. We need more. We need to have it speak to our mission. So it’s a little , it’s gonna be challenging, I think we’re up to it. So we’ve done some Summer reading groups for grad students, we’re gonna keep doing that. We also have funding for fellowships for graduate students.
John Garen describes faculty interest in funding:
And we have funding for Summer research grants for faculty which is a great thing to get faculty interested and engaged with you. And these are, I would say...we’re not overpaying people, but it’s an attractive amount of Summer funding for people
FULL Transcripts Below
Introduction: Gerald Gunderson, Trinity College
Charlie Ruger, Charles Koch Foundation
Steve Gohmann, University of Louisville
Brad Thompson, Clemson University
- John Garen, University of Kentucky
Gerald Gunderson, Trinity College
(tells a story)