Stanley Kurtz and National Review have made available some interesting documents—a comprehensive list of gifts originating in foreign countries to American colleges and universities. Here’s Kurtz’s article about why he made the FOIA request for these documents: Following the Foreign Money.
To treat all or even most foreign gifts to American colleges or universities as somehow nefarious would be a serious mistake. America’s institutions of higher education — with their superb programs in science, medicine, and engineering — rightly benefit from the largesse of America’s foreign friends and allies, many of whom have benefited directly from the technical expertise developed in these institutions.
On the other hand, there are reasonable grounds to fear that some foreign donations may purchase undue influence over the way in which highly controversial subjects are treated in American lecture halls. For example, Virginia congressman Frank R. Wolf recently sent a letter of concern to Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia regarding a $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal to Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (the second largest gift in Georgetown’s history). A second $20 million gift from Prince Alwaleed to Harvard University has raised additional concerns.
Shortly after 9/11, Prince Alwaleed famously pledged to donate $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund. Yet because the gift was attached to a statement calling on the U.S. to “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause,” Alwaleed’s gift was spurned by then-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Harvard and Georgetown have evinced no such reluctance. Alwaleed clearly means his gifts to shape American views on the Middle East, and there are legitimate grounds for asking, as did Rep. Wolf, whether such gifts might compromise the content of scholarship at Harvard and Georgetown. (For more on concerns raised by Alwaleed’s gifts, see “Saudis give big to U.S. colleges.”)
In an earlier piece in this space, “Saudi in the Classroom,” I showed that questions about undue Saudi influence on American education go beyond colleges and universities. Evidence suggests that various Saudi-funded institutions are able to use congressionally mandated university programs of “public outreach” as an unmonitored channel to gain influence over American K-12 education.
The disclosure reports are at this page.
UPDATE at 3/29/08 5:46:40 pm:
LGF reader Steve B. put the results into an Excel spreadsheet.