FSU Students Worried About Billionaire Koch's Influence Over the School

Categories: Education

DonkeyHotey (Flickr)
A cartoon painting of Charles Koch, the man who bought FSU's economics department.
Florida State University's president is on his way out, and students are naturally concerned about what the departure might mean for their school. Except this time, the leadership transition also involves questions about the influence of oh, you know, conservative billionaire and Possibly the Most Reviled Political Donor in America Charles Koch.

See also: FSU Whores Out Its Econ Department To Billionaire Activist Koch Brothers

Koch, who in conjunction with his brother David has (in)famously pumped more than $100 million into reprehensible right-wing causes, particularly those aimed explicitly at bringing down President Obama or supporting union-killing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Koch has also, to be fair, given generously to some actual good causes such as museums), first set his sights on FSU in 2008 when he donated $1.5 million to the school's economics department. There was a stipulation that the Koch Foundation would assume a large degree of control over the curriculum and appointment of professors. In other words, straight up money for intellectual influence -- and FSU, despite being funded by the State of Florida, was desperate enough to take the bait.

In 2011, details of the agreement came out -- to appropriate outrage -- and the university revised the deal to tamp down the billionaire's control. But now that president Eric Barron is leaving for a new position at Penn State, a group of students says Koch's potential influence sits like "an elephant in the room" at Florida State. They are concerned anew about their university's academic integrity.

Writing in the Tallahassee Democrat, four FSU students -- Jerry Funt, Gladys Nobriga, Lissa Reed, and Ralph Wilson -- put the question to new FSU administration: Now that Barron is leaving, and with many provisions of the original 2008 agreement still in place, "How will Florida State ensure that multimillion-dollar grants from Kansas billionaire Charles Koch won't warp our education?"

"In our haste to fulfill fundraising goals," the students write, "we must not allow our administrators to sell our university's academic freedom. As students striving to live by the Florida State seal of Vires, Artes, and Mores -- strength, skill, and character -- we'd rather not surrender our character just to serve Charles Koch. Our impartiality is more valuable than his money."

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The only support the Kook bros seem to be getting are coming from economists or economics students.  Since many economists are self-centered and care only about their own selfish interests, it's not surprising that they would have their noses up the backsides of two ultra-wealthy, conservative multi-billionaires.

Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

"into reprehensible right-wing causes, particularly those aimed explicitly at bringing down President Obama or supporting union-killing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker"

Funny how someone who has no grasp of journalistic ethics is reporting on education.

So when should we expect the scathing report on the reprehensible left wing donors like Allan Soros,  Jeffery Abrams,  Sean Parker, Henry Laufer or any of the others who donate to fascist causes.  Much more than the Kochs do the Conservative ones.

Danny Arango
Danny Arango

Oh yes poor Koch brother being picked on, they are just billionaires trying to control government and apparently education as well through they crap loads of cash, so what are you tryin to say new times? That we shouldn't support billionaires trying to influence the political system to get commendable conservative measures passed like taking away health insurance? Welfare? Abortions and birth control? Unions? All things that serve minorities and middle to lower income groups which represent 99% of the population or a majority? U guys are such morally righteous and politically aware individuals that it makes me sick.

Jason Winburn
Jason Winburn

Seriously, an anti Koch article? Booooooo. Crap article.

Justin Kindler
Justin Kindler

That sucks. The Koch ' s funded the only econometrics internship at FIU too.


Koch brothers dictating who can be hired and what can be taught in the economics dept. at FSU. Can the science departments be far behind? This is an example of how to turn a respected university into a Bob Jones University or Jerry Falwell's Unity College clone. Shame on Florida for allowing this to happen. 

DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

“The Tea Party is funded by Koch Industries, or Big Oil. The Koch brothers gave over $55 million in bribes to scientists to say global warming is a hoax. They are a vast political network, sponsoring Christian CONservative rallies and funding political ad campaigns nationwide. They are instrumental in busting unions and they pushed for the Citizens United/ ‘corporations are people’ law.”

the politicians are too dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. (They vote on their own raises, healthcare, and pension plans, and we are left with the bill. ,Members of Congress sleeping in the office are thus playing on the edge to eek out even more compensation from the taxpayer. They convert use of a space -- that we have paid for -- intended for work into living space as they avoid rent) AS we know, the money hungry Congress men and women have taken millions from the Koch, et.al., and that really is what drives their positions, not the interests of the American people. That makes them low-life indeed

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