In a letter sent to four FSU representatives, Progress Florida’s Mark Ferrulo again calls for the cancellation of a contract that allows a foundation run by Charles Koch to oversee a portion of the faculty hiring process at FSU’s Economics Department.
Citing a St. Petersburg Times piece, in which FSU leaders said that they were committed to reviewing the contract, Ferrulo requests that the school rescind its “controversial and harmful precedent setting contract with the Koch Foundation.”
The controversial alliance is the result of a pledge of $6.5 million (over the course of six years) from the Koch Foundation, which is bankrolled by Charles Koch, one half of the libertarian and anti-regulation Koch brothers. In return, Koch’s representatives get to have a hand in hiring faculty members for a program that will promote “political economy and free enterprise.”
Critics argue that the relationship between Koch and the public university is unethical, but FSU President Eric Barron maintains that the school “did not – and would not – sacrifice its academic freedom in order to receive a donation of any kind.”
Attached to Ferrulo’s letter is a petition with the signatures of 8,841 Floridians, all opposed to the plan. 1,382 of them are “faculty, alumni, students, donors and other immediate members of the FSU family.”
Read Ferrulo’s letter, in its entirety:
Dear President Barron:
According to this June 2nd news report, Florida State University has committed to “reviewing the university’s unusual contract with a famously conservative donor” [Koch Foundation] and reporting on its findings by the end of July.
Tomorrow, will be the midpoint of July and we thought you and the review committee should know that thousands of Floridians have signed a petition (attached) calling on the university to uphold the principle of, and avoid even the appearance of divergence from, academic freedom at FSU. Progress Florida and these petitioners are respectfully asking you to rescind FSU’s controversial and harmful precedent setting contract with the Koch Foundation.
We’re confident that you will strongly consider the concerns of these 8,841 Floridians who’ve signed the attached petition, 1,382 of whom are faculty, alumni, students, donors and other immediate members of the FSU family.
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director
cc: Sandra Lewis, Faculty Senate President
Susan Fiorito, Vice Chair Faculty Senate Steering Committee
Sandy D’Alemberte, Past FSU President, member of faculty review committee