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USU President Defends Huntsman-Koch Gift; Faculty Raise Concerns

Herald Journal Monday, Sep. 11, 2017

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett on Monday defended the largest donation in the school’s history while trying to alleviate concerns some faculty had about the gift, half of which came from billionaire businessman Charles Koch. ... It will support numerous initiatives, including the selective Huntsman Scholars program, the hiring of new faculty and a new USU-affiliated nonprofit called the Center for Growth and Opportunity. ... Their critics at USU and elsewhere in academia argue the money given to the universities is meant to advance conservative political principles. ... Cockett said she realizes some at USU are concerned about Charles Koch Foundation funding, but it’s not the only donor people might take issue with — and the university took care to ensure the gift met USU guidelines. ... USU’s gift agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation is not like ones that have raised controversy at other schools, Cockett said. ... The university released the terms of the gift agreement on the same day USU administrators announced it during commencement in May. ... Despite Cockett’s assurances, some faculty senators had questions for the USU administration over its decision to accept the gift. One such person was Courtney Flint, professor of social work and anthropology, who asked Cockett if faculty will be allowed to say the Charles Koch Foundation has nothing to do with their research. Cockett said they could and stressed transparency with research is important.

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