During a faculty assembly meeting last week, graduate students raised concerns about a $4.2 million grant from the foundation to establish the Center for Governance and Markets, which will focus on how political institutions, markets, and technology impact human flourishing and well-being in the United States and globally. Concerns about the grant are centered around academic freedom and whether the foundation will attempt to influence the center's hiring and research agenda. "They feel that the issues around accepting this grant from such a foundation haven't been properly aired," said Mazviita Chirimuuta, an associate professor in the Department of History & Philosophy of Science. "[The foundation has] a history of basically using their relationships with academic institutions in order to further [its] own agenda."
The grant, which has not been officially accepted, has been subject to the university's review process for the past eighteen months, said university senate president Chris Bonneau, and the grant agreement has been posted online.
"We don't want to be George Mason, where there is a very definite ideology," said Bonneau, referring to the Virginia university that has received millions from the foundation and other conservative-leaning donors. "When you hear about economics and George Mason University, it has a very negative connotation to all academics; the research is being tainted by the source of the funds."