Open Letter to President Hatch and Provost Kersh on the Koch Foundation


Omaar Hena

Dear President Hatch and Provost Kersh,

We are writing because we are deeply concerned about Wake Forest’s decision to accept $3.69 million from the Koch Foundation towards funding the Eudaimonia Institute, overseen by executive director Professor James Otteson. In recent years, the mainstream press—including Time Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker—has well documented how the Koch Foundation has sought to influence higher education to suit their political purposes of advancing “free enterprise” and denying “climate change,” of hiring tenured and tenure-track faculty who share their political ideology, and of shaping teaching and the curriculum within universities.

As you know, an Ad Hoc Committee within the Faculty Senate has conducted an independent investigation into the Koch Foundation in general and its very real and likely potential to harm academic freedom, faculty governance, and the university’s integrity at Wake Forest, in particular. On March 15th, the Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly against accepting funding from the Koch Foundation. The report concludes: “Given recent revelations about the Koch Foundation’s strategy and aims in higher education, it is our view that the University administration and Board of Trustees have the opportunity to reject this funding and thereby make a bold statement in defending the integrity and academic reputation of Wake Forest University.”

Whatever autonomy the Eudaimonia Institute may claim to have in pursuing academic inquiry and promoting the free exchange of ideas, two facts remain. First, the Koch Foundation has a particular political ideology it seeks to uphold by shaping institutions of higher learning. Second, the University’s decision to accept this money was made without the consultation and participation of the faculty.

We, the undersigned, oppose the University administration’s decision to accept monies from the Koch Foundation. We believe this decision erodes our trust in the administration’s protection of the liberal arts and the humanities as the foundation of the University and its mission. And we remain committed to the notion that faculty should have full participation in the creation and approval of University institutes, particularly when institutes are funded by external sources.

We urge you to reject funding from the Koch Foundation.

Omaar Hena, Associate Professor of English, Class of 1999 (English)