Task force created to monitor the controversial Koch donation

Koch Vote

The Utah State University Faculty Senate voted Monday to create a task force charged with monitoring the $25 million gift donated last summer by the Charles Koch Foundation.

The vote came to 26 senators in favor of the task force, 21 senators against it and two abstaining.

Faculty Senate President Kimberly Lott is now tasked with selecting members for the task force, which will be discussed further at the Faculty Senate executive committee meeting Feb. 20. 

Kyle Todecheene | The Utah Statesman

USU Faculty Senate President Kimberly Lott at the meeting held Feb. 5.

Though Lott had not yet considered details of the task force, she anticipated the group will collect input from various campus individuals and organizations about the gift and ensure transparency in its usage.

The donation, which came in May, funds the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business’ new Center for Growth and Opportunity which aims to “explore, through research and education programs, the scientific foundation of the interaction between individuals, business, and government to improve well-being for individuals and society,” according to the contract between USU and the Charles Koch Foundation.

The Charles Koch Foundation was founded in 1980 and “funds research and education that helps people expand their horizons, develop their skills, and help others,” according to the foundation’s website.

Before voting, the body debated the controversy surrounding The Koch Foundation, as well as time and investment required to form a committee.

Lisa Gabbert, English associate professor, said “I think the purpose with the Koch donation being a fairly controversial donation, is closure,” in discussion of controversy surrounding the Koch Brothers and whether their donations come with influence over a university.

While Charles and David Koch, commonly referred to as “the Koch brothers” have earned a reputation for donating billions to Republican political campaigns and funding conservative-leaning research, USU spokesman Tim Vitale stressed the Koch donation comes with “no strings attached.”

According to the contract between the two entities, the Charles Koch Foundation will donate up to $1.25 million every year until 2027 in early February. 

However, Vitale said, either party has the option of ending the agreement if conflicts arise.

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