I wanted to make sure you saw the alert Mark sent last week about the unprecedented influence right-wing billionaire Charles Koch has been granted over Florida State University’s Economics Department. Nearly 7,000 concerned Floridians have signed the petition to FSU President Eric Barron demanding an end to this indefensible arrangement – learn more below or click here and help us get to 10,000.
For academic freedom,
Damien Filer, Progress Florida
P.S. – Since our first alert, it has It has come out that in 2008, then FSU provost Larry Abele raised questions about whether the deal would “compromise the academic freedom of individuals holding professorships under the agreement…”1Take action today.
1 “Internal FSU e-mails show academic officers were concerned with Koch’s control over financial gift” - St. Petersburg Times 5/14
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In exchange for accepting $1.5 million from billionaire Charles Koch, one of the notorious right-wing Koch Brothers, Florida State University gave Koch the unprecedented right to reject some professor candidates for the school’s economics department.1Allowing one of Florida’s great public universities to be used as a front for the Koch’s corporate propaganda machine is unacceptable.
Stop this unprecedented assault on academic freedom.
Dean David Rasmussen, who was instrumental in cutting the deal with Koch, in a recent opinion piece, cited budget cuts to universities over the past five years as necessitating the trade-off. Rasmussen falsely claims that the university retains control over hiring practices, but already during the first round of hiring after the agreement, Koch’s advisory board rejected 60% of the faculty’s candidate suggestions. University budget cuts are no excuse to subvert academic freedom by giving wealthy benefactors influence over the hiring of professors.
The Koch’s move to control a part of FSU’s economics department is bigger than FSU. For years, right wing billionaires like the Kochs have funded scores of front groups and think tanks to advance their radical agenda. Now they want to use the cover of a public university in an attempt to give their failed ideas more credibility with the public. They can’t win the battle of ideas in a fair fight, so they’re suppressing academic freedom to get their way. Florida State’s preposterous arrangement with Charles Koch opens the door to a slippery slope of pay-to-play control over our universities and should not go unchallenged.
Mark, Damien and the rest of the Progress Florida team
1“Billionaire’s role in hiring decisions at Florida State University raises questions.” St. Petersburg Times. April 11, 2011.