By Alexandra A. Chaidez, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER February 27, 2018
A foundation overseen by controversial libertarian billionaire Charles Koch has made several millions-dollar donations to the Harvard Kennedy School in recent years, prompting some debate within the school about the organization’s role and influence on campus.
In Dec. 2015, the Koch Foundation donated $2.9 million to the Kennedy School’s Taubman Center to support an initiative meant to boost education-related entrepreneurship. And in Nov. 2017, the Koch Foundation gave the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs a $1.8 million grant to launch “The Project on Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft,” a collaborative international studies program between the Kennedy School and MIT.
These grants follow about $10 million given to other institutions of higher education including Tufts University and the University of California at San Diego—both meant to foster research into foreign policy.
Given these recent donations, some Kennedy School students and outside observers have raised concerns about the clout they say the Koch foundation may wield at the school.
“They have a very clear libertarian, ideological, free-market fundamentalism agenda that they are pushing not only in the United States but also across the world,” Kennedy School student Jeff Rousset said. “When the dean says he is interested in bringing more conservatives voices to the Kennedy School, we have to ask, what are the voices in his head influencing those decisions?”
Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf recently said he is interested in bringing more conservative voices to campus.