WASHINGTON ― Some Catholic educators are protesting Catholic University of America’s recent acceptance of a $1 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation, which is affiliated with the libertarian Koch brothers.
The Washington Post reports 50 educators signed the protest letter made public Monday. Signers include the Rev. Stephen Privett, president of the University of San Francisco; Susan Ross, chair of Loyola University Chicago’s theology department; and Catholic University theology professor William Barbieri Jr.
The letter says the Koch gift sends “a confusing message” that the Koch brothers’ “anti-government, Tea Party ideology” has the blessing of Catholic University.
“The Koch Foundation does noble philanthropic work as a leading patron of arts and culture. We commend them for these charitable endeavors,” the letter reads. “However, we must not ignore the stark contrast between the Koch brothers’ public policy agenda and our Church’s traditional social justice teachings.”
On Monday, the university defended the gift, which will support the university’s new School of Business and Economics. The money will be used to hire four visiting scholars to research the role of entrepreneurship in society, and the university said it controls the selection of all the positions.
The school said the protests are driven by outsiders who have a political agenda. In a statement, administrators said they have no intention of reconsidering whether to accept the grant.
“We are confident that our faculty and academic leadership are well versed in Catholic social teaching and well equipped to apply it,” the university said.
Barbieri said he is among faculty members who want to hear that the gift comes with no conditions that would affect academic freedom.
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