George Mason University, a public school, located outside the nation’s capital, is the darling of the Charles Koch Foundation. Having received nearly $48 million in donations between 2011 and 2014, the University is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this Foundation.
It is quite usual for the wealthy billionaires to donate colossal sums towards education. However, the donations are usually spread out to various institutions. This particular relationship between the George Mason University and the Charles Koch Foundation has elicited mixed reactions from different quarters. Anti-Koch campaigners among others have expressed fears that the philanthropist could be trying to control the project objectives for the various programs his foundation supports. The foundation’s management and the University’s leadership do not share this point of view.
The Charles Koch Foundation leadership came forward to dispell the theories making rounds, by demonstrating the longstanding relationship and interaction the two have shared. George Mason University enjoys the massive support because it has always had connections with the Foundation. Previously, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Sen. John McCain’s former spokesperson, who heads Koch Industries’ Washington office, served on the university board. Currently, Kimberly Dennis, the president and CEO of Searle Freedom Trust, sits on the university board. Searle Freedom Trust shares close ties to the Kochs.
Charles Koch himself, founder of the Charles Koch Institute is the Chairman of the IHS board. He is also a member of the Mercatus board. Richard Fink, one of Koch Industries’ executive vice president also sits on the Mercatus and IHS boards. With such ties, it is automatic that George Mason gets the Lion’s share of the over $20 million annual contributions towards education.
The Charles Koch Foundation funds are mainly directed towards the Mercatus Center. The Mercatus Center came about in 1992. The Center is a free-market think tank that undertakes research and education efforts towards federal regulators and congressional staffers. The remainder of the funds is channeled to the Institute for Humane Studies. This institute advocates for libertarian philosophies. George Mason is not the sole beneficiary of the Charles Koch Foundation. In 2013, the Foundation signed an agreement that saw the creation of a Political Economy and Free Enterprise Program at Florida State University. Charles Koch is a great philanthropist as an individual and through the various causes, he champions.
The world billionaire was born in 1935. Together with his brother, Charles Koch has built an industrial empire that has made him an influential figure in the United States. He has been ranked among the richest men on earth with a net worth of $36 billion. Besides philanthropy, he is into politics and a great Republican supporter.