On Thursday, May 30, SCU President Michael Engh, SJ, announced a $7 million gift from Carlyse Franzi Ciocca (’77) and her husband Art Ciocca, coupled with a supporting $4 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation, to expand and re-envision the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The gift agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation, made public in the announcement, includes “strict language to protect academic integrity and academic freedom at all junctures,” and reserves “all decision-making (including hiring, curricular, programming, research topics, and other decisions)” to the University. A document with more information was linked to the announcement.
However, the history of Charles Koch Foundation gifts and the causes they support raise alarms for many on campus and beyond, including our campus chapter of the AAUP. SCU faculty and students are circulating resources and, in the students’ case, a petition, against the acceptance of the gifts.
The linked donations trigger several concerns for AAUP specifically. First, Santa Clara University administrators did not openly and transparently consult with faculty about a decision that directly affects both faculty and students, as well as the reputation of the University. Secondly, the track record of the Charles Koch Foundation reveals they have sought to undercut academic freedom at universities across the US. Accepting the support of the Charles Koch Foundation ethically aligns Santa Clara University with their policies—a stance that flies in the face of the values of shared governance and academic freedom.
Below we provide a link to The Charles Koch Foundation website, as well as other links and articles about their gift history, the Foundation’s underlying aims, and critiques that have emerged.
- Charles Koch Foundation
- UnKoch My Campus
- Violations of Academic Freedom, Faculty Governance, and Academic Integrity: An Analysis of The Charles Koch Foundation (initial publication June 2016; republished December 2018)
- George Mason Internal Review Committee, Report of the Review of Gift Agreements (9 October 2018).
- Connor Gibson, Koch Pollution on Campus (Greenpeace, 2014).
- Greenpeace PolluterWatch and UnKoch My campus, Charles Koch University Funding Database (2014)
- Marie Therese Kane, If You’re Reading This, You’ve Been Koch-ed, The Spire: Student Newspaper of the College of the Holy Cross (22 February 2019).
- Lisa Graves, Inside the Koch Family’s 60-Year Anti-Union Campaign That Gave Us “Janus,” Truthout (16 July 2018).
- Dave Levinthal, Spreading the Free-Market Gospel: What’s New and Interesting about the Koch Brothers’ Approach to Funding Academics, The Atlantic (30 October 2015).
- Michelle Boorstein, 50 Educators Sign Letter to Catholic University Protesting Koch Foundation’s $1 Million Gift, The Washington Post (16 December 2013).
- For the text of the letter and Catholic University’s response, see Valerie Strauss, Texts of Exchange between Catholic Educators in War of Words over $1 Million Koch Gift to University, The Washington Post (16 December 2013).