The University of Kentucky has released the contracts for its “free enterprise” teaching institute, the result of major donations from the foundations of pizza magnate John Schnatter and businessman Charles Koch.
The school announced earlier this month that the Schnatter and Koch foundations were donating a combined $12 million to create the new program that furthers capitalistic philosophy. The donation, one of the largest in UK history, is double what the foundations gave earlier this year to set up a similar program at the University of Louisville.
The contracts, released last week by UK in response to a records request, provide some additional details about the pledges and program.
The contracts note that the aim is to “promote a republic of science at the University where ideas can be exchanged freely and useful knowledge will be benefit the well-being of individuals and society.” All sides agree, the contracts state, that academic freedom is critical.
The language very closely mirrors the agreements signed with the University of Louisville. The UK donation, however, is more extensive and provides significantly more funding. The school will hire five new faculty members, select up to 13 people for Ph.D. fellowships, and hire a research associate, among other moves.
The donors have the right to back out of the agreements at any time and the school would have to return unspent funds, the contracts show.
Also, UK has agreed not to release details of the contracts and arrangement without written consent of the donors, except for cases in which they are required to release information under the Open Records Act. In those instances, the school agrees to give the donors three days’ advance notice of such disclosures. This contract language was also in the University of Louisville’s agreements.
You can view the Schnatter and Koch agreements with the University of Louisville here.
Similar Koch-funded enterprise centers at other schools across the country have prompted criticism from students and faculty who allege the schools have sold curricula for cash.
Schnatter, of Anchorage, is the CEO of Papa John’s International, the publicly traded pizza giant.
“Entrepreneurship is critical to unlocking the power of the free market system,” Schnatter said in a news release announcing the donation. “We’re proud to support this effort to educate the next generation about free market principles and equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the know-how to launch successful businesses.”
The Koch brothers are billionaire businessmen and well-known philanthropists who champion conservative causes and politicians who favor less government regulation.
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Disclosure: In October 2014, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $10,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation.