The names are simple and sound innocuous: The Institute for Humane Studies; The Center for the Study of Economic Liberty; The Institute for the Study of Capitalism; The Center for the Study of Free Enterprise. But make no mistake: These and other Koch brothers’ projects are well-funded attempts to steer the hearts and minds of US students in a decidedly libertarian, anti-tax and anti-regulatory, direction.
Along the way, the Koch initiatives have pushed, pulled, prodded and poked at faculty governance, academic freedom and hiring to promote their pro-business agenda. And they’ve dug deep. According to researchers at UnKoch My Campus, a two-year-old grassroots effort to educate students and faculty about Charles and David Koch’s incursion into academic life, between 2005 and 2015, the pair and their cronies gave $109,778,257 to 308 colleges across the country. The bulk of the money came from four Koch-run philanthropies: The Charles Koch Foundation; The Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation; The Claude Lambe Charitable Foundation; and the Koch Cultural Trust. They’re powerful entities, not only giving the Kochs a way to lessen their tax burden but also giving them enormous influence over what is taught, and by whom.
Grants, meanwhile, have run the gamut, from a measly $6,000 to Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts to $45,558,153 to the George Mason University Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia. Other major recipients include two George Mason think tanks, the 55-year-old Institute for Humane Studies [$23,387,030] and the 38-year-old Mercatus Center [$8,708,500]; The West Virginia University Foundation [$1,337,525]; Suffolk University [$996,328]; Florida State [$600,000]; Southern Methodist University [$585,800]; and the Kansas State University Foundation [$498,754].