- George Mason University’s faculty senate is requesting a delay on the renaming of the institution’s law school for late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and they have expressed concern over donor influence on academic integrity.
- The faculty senate’s resolution questions the terms of $30 million in donations from the Charles Koch Foundation and an anonymous donor, as well as the long-term liability of creating two new centers, 12 new faculty positions, and additional staff, which are required by the gifts.
- The Washington Post reports many in the university community are concerned about Scalia’s divisive legacy and what his name on the law school would do for campus climate while others dismiss the integrity questions as being politically motivated and baseless.
The Koch brothers have inspired a dedicated following of detractors, and their donations to higher education institutions have gotten particular attention from student groups organizing to “unKoch” their campuses. George Mason University has been a top recipient of Koch dollars. In an austere climate, private philanthropists provide a critical funding stream for institutions, especially in a market dominated by intense competition and demographic changes yielding fewer high school graduates to court for undergraduate programs.
The question is always whether there are strings attached to major donations. Few donors provide unrestricted gifts. But if faculty come to demand approval of each donor agreement, it could create significant implications for campus governance.