Koch buys ability to interfere with academic freedom, twirls mustache
A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”
Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.
This is an enormous erosion of academic freedom.
Most universities, including the University of Florida, have policies that strictly limit donors’ influence over the use of their gifts. Yale University once returned $20 million when the donor demanded veto power over appointments, saying such control was “unheard of.”
The importance of an independent academia cannot be overstated. This is something my friend Charles Muscatine, a far better man than Charles Koch, dedicated his life to. I’m glad he didn’t live to see this.