When the terms of a 2008 grant agreement between Florida State University and the Charles G. Koch Foundation became public last month, the news drew attention to the fund for what some saw as an attempt to exert undue influence over personnel matters.
The foundation has made sizable grants to a number of other colleges and universities — including six-, seven- and eight-figure gifts to such public institutions as Clemson University, George Mason University, Utah State University and West Virginia University.
In at least one case besides that of Florida State, Utah State University, the grant agreements give the foundation a role in reviewing candidates for positions. While the role given to Koch is less expansive than the one set out at Florida State, it still goes beyond norms of faculty hiring, which generally avoid any formal role for donors beyond designating an area of study. In other cases, the nature of the gifts has raised questions — with critics suggesting that the subject matter is so narrowly defined that it effectively embraces a political perspective, not a subject of study.