Papa John, Charles Koch and higher education. This does not compute.


In this instance, I have refrained from leaping aboard the social media bandwagon. Honestly, I like Steve Gohmann, who has been chosen as the “Free Enterprise” center’s director, as much as I dislike Papa John and the Kochs.

Here’s the story in three links.

March 10: Papa John, Koch brother give multimillion-dollar gifts to U of L, by Stephen George (IL)

The University of Louisville today announced a combined $6.3 million in gifts from Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation, a philanthropic offshoot of the prominent conservative brothers, to support an expansion of the university’s economics and entrepreneurship programs.

The gifts — $4.64 million from Schnatter’s family foundation and $1.66 million from the Koch Foundation — are intended to fund the creation of the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at U of L’s College of Business. The funds will be distributed over seven years and support the hiring of two tenure-track professors and two visiting professorships, according to the university, as well as an outreach director and an administrative assistant.

Stephan Gohmann, the BB&T Professor of Free Enterprise in the school’s Department of Economics, will be director of the new center. Gohmann is a 26-year veteran of the university who said the funding will enable him to expand current offerings while providing “different points of view” for students, including expanded lectures, seminars, symposiums, and an annual keynote speaker with a national profile.

And …

March 16: Agreement details proposed budget, salaries for new U of L Free Enterprise Center, by Marty Finley (Louisville Business First)

In December, The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting cited concerns from unidentified U of L faculty members and supporters that the donation might be a way to wield influence over hiring and curriculum at the university to espouse conservative political views held by Charles Koch, a businessman and philanthropist from Kansas who is the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries.

The agreement states that the money donated can be used only for educational purposes, meaning it can not be used to influence legislation or the outcome of a political election. The money also cannot be used to advance a political campaign or carry out voter registration drives, the agreement states, or for “any other purpose that would jeopardize the Donor’s tax-exempt status.”

Finally …

March 18: Contracts for Schnatter-Koch gifts could leave U of L on the hook, by Stephen George (IL)

The proposed John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the University of Louisville will be built on the concepts of academic and entrepreneurial freedom, supporters say. But the contracts to create it allow its two donors — Papa John’s founder Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation — the freedom to walk away at any time, leaving U of L on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to pay tenure-track professors hired expressly for the center. That de facto veto power gives the donors broad — though indirect — influence over the shaping and execution of the new academic program.