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Florida State Professors Question Deal That Gives Donor a Role in Hiring Decisions

A current and a former professor at Florida State University have raised concerns, in a recent opinion article in the Tallahassee Democrat, about an arrangement that gives a conservative billionaire whose foundation pledged $1.5-million for positions in the university’s economics department a say in hiring decisions for the program his foundation finances. Under the university’s agreement, signed in 2008 with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, an advisory committee appointed by the foundation gets to screen and sign off on any hires for a program promoting “political economy and free enterprise” and can withdraw the foundation’s financial support if the committee is unhappy with how those new employees perform, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The professors argue that the deal undermines academic freedom; the dean of the College of Social Sciences defended the arrangement in the Times, saying it would have been “irresponsible” not to accept the donation.

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