FSU Whores Out Its Econ Department To Billionaire Activist Koch Brothers

Basic values like "academic integrity" and "common decency" usually lead universities to accept big donations only under strict guidelines: namely, that the benefactors trust the school to use the money without meddling.

So it's really awful what's going on up at Florida State University, where the Economics Department took $1.5 million from the libertarian activist Koch Brothers -- a pair Gawker has christened "cartoonish evil billionaires" --  and in exchange given them total power to pick and choose professors who meet their strict political tests. WTF, FSU?

The Econ department signed off on the unusual deal in 2008, but most hadn't heard about it until this morning when the St. Pete Times dug into the mucky details behind the donation.

The contract signed with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation requires that a committee appointed by Koch himself gets to decide who can be hired with the money. And during the first round of hiring, his minions rejected 60 percent of the faculty's candidates outright.

David Rasmussen, the college's dean, defended the arrangement to the Times, noting that the school can offer eight additional classes thanks to the money. But, he conceded, "I'm sure some faculty will say this is not exactly consistent with their view of academic freedom.''

That's for sure. Here's Jennifer Washburn, an expert on university-donor contracts: "This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing."

The Koch brothers (sadly pronounced "Coke" instead of phonetically) are no strangers to throwing their cash around to further their libertarian views. The brothers, Charles and David, are each worth about $20 billion.

This excellent New Yorker piece paints a full picture of their political heft, including the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which one expert in the story terms "ground zero for deregulation policy."

More recently the pair pumped millions into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to take collective bargaining powers away from state unions.  

So enjoy those ideologically sponsored Econ 101 classes, FSU! Hopefully you still feel good about yourself in the morning.

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