This four-part series from the Daily’s Investigative Team spotlights seven controversial foundations that have supported Tufts in the last 33 years and reveals the process by which the university accepts such donations.
Part 3 examines Tufts’ donation acceptance policies and explore their ramifications for students.
Part 4 compares Tufts’ donation acceptance record with other universities across the United States and examine how they comport with national trends.
Liam Knox contributed reporting to this series. Cover photos by Alexis Serino, Rachel Hartman, Ray Bernoff and Seohyun Shim.
Part 1: Illuminating Tufts’ multimillion-dollar donor network
This part was first published on Nov. 26.
Through an analysis of tax records made available by American Bridge 21st Century, Foundation Center and ProPublica — in addition to financial information publicly released by Tufts’ Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development — the Daily has charted the flow of controversial charitable donations the university has accepted over the last 33 years.
Tufts’ continued acceptance of these funds is indicative of a donation review process that prioritizes the immediate on-campus implications of potential donations over the histories and motives of the donors.
Monica Toft, director of the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Richard Lerner, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, told the Daily that they accepted money from the Charles Koch Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, respectively, without knowing about the organization’s political intentions or without fully understanding the highly controversial funding schemes these foundations have engaged in at Tufts and across the United States.
The seven foundations included in this report are the John M. Olin Foundation, which gave $1,626,051; the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which gave $7,620,000; The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which gave $1,018,250; the John Templeton Foundation, which gave $6,699,828; the Earhart Foundation, which gave $1,413,008; the Smith Richardson Foundation, which gave $1,193,017; and the Charles Koch Foundation, which pledged to donate $3,000,000 over a six-year period beginning in 2017.
Some of the donations and grants given by these foundations have funded racially and religiously divisive research initiatives at Tufts. One such project was the now-closed Cultural Change Institute at Fletcher, which received financial support from the Templeton Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation. The Cultural Change Institute was founded in 2007 by former Fletcher adjunct professor and senior research fellow Lawrence Harrison, who also directed the institute from its establishment until he retired in 2010, according to Miguel Basáñez, who was named director following Harrison’s retirement.
Fletcher tapped Harrison to direct the Cultural Change Institute in 2007, even though he had a long history of producing racially divisive scholarship dating back over 20 years. In one written work, Harrison argued that black slaves benefited from British slavery and in another argued that black subculture is the primary cause of black underachievement in America.
Not all of the foundations included in this report have supported controversial scholarship at Tufts, but they have all engaged in questionable donation campaigns at universities across the country.
The Charles Koch Foundation, which funded Fletcher’s CSS through a $3 million grant over six years, has attempted to influence faculty hiring decisions and academic curricula at several universities to which it donates, according to documents signed in 2008 by Charles Koch Foundation officials and administrators at Florida State University (FSU) that were released in 2011 by UnKoch My Campus and the FSU Progress Coalition.
Ralph Wilson, co-founder of UnKoch My Campus, said that his organization’s release of the FSU documents provided evidence to support its claim that the Charles Koch Foundation attaches conditions to its donations.
“The FSU contract was the first time we got to see the conditions on this money and we could say, ‘Look, there’s a legal document. We’re not making this up, we’re not shouting at the donor’s politics’ — we’re reading a legal document that says ‘here’s what the donors get for their money’ and shows those strings attached,” Wilson said.
Tufts’ Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins told the Daily in an email that donors sometimes retain the right to give final faculty approval but did not directly respond when asked if donors can influence the hiring process.
“For some awards, the agreement will call for Tufts to select personnel and for the sponsor to give final approval based on the personnel’s qualifications,” Collins said. “This is common for agreements with federal government agencies, e.g. with the United States Agency for International Development.”
The Charles Koch Foundation contributed funding to the Center for Choice and Market Process at the College of Charleston. In 2010, the foundation requested that the center’s director, Peter Calcagno, share students’ personal email addresses so that it could recruit them for other foundation initiatives, according to an email released by the Center for Public Integrity.
“Please submit names and permanent e-mail addresses (preferably not ending in .edu), if your program includes any activities that include a roster of students,” Charlie Ruger, director of university investments at the Charles Koch Foundation, and Derek Johnson, vice president of education at the Charles Koch Institute, wrote to Calcagno. “Given our goals, this section of the report will factor substantially into our evaluation of future funding requests.”
Toft, director of CSS at Fletcher, said that she has never been asked to provide the Charles Koch Foundation with students’ personal information and added that she was unaware the foundation engaged in this behavior.
Collins did not directly respond when asked if Tufts has any rules that bar the sharing of personal student data with charitable foundations, but noted that he does not know of any such occurrences.
“We are unaware of any agreement requiring the university to provide students’ personal information to funders and we typically would not agree to such a requirement,” he said.
At a secretly recorded Association of Private Enterprise Education conference in 2016, Ruger said that the foundation can tap into its large network of philanthropists to pressure universities that do not adhere to its goals.
“It really helps if we can call the donor and say, ‘Hey, you know the university. Call up the vice president of development and ask him what the hell he’s doing.’ That’s incredibly powerful, and it goes way beyond just the dollars contribution that they put into this,” Ruger said.
Ruger further explained that the Charles Koch Foundation seeks to elevate select scholars whose conservative views differ from the vast majority of modern academics.
“We do this because professors with certain classical liberal sympathies are outnumbered in the academy about 125 to one,” Ruger said. “Those 125 professors aren’t just quietly stewing about how much they dislike classical liberal ideas. They’re actively taking the opportunity to fight against liberty, against freedom. So, when we go to build new academic institutions in partnership with universities, we’re doing it because in order to make a dent, we’re going to need to have a disproportionate impact.”
Toft said that she thought the Charles Koch Foundation changed its behavior after the Center for Public Integrity first reported on its attempts to influence personnel decisions in 2014 but was unaware of foundation officials’ recent statements, which suggest that the Charles Koch Foundation continues to pressure academic institutions into adopting its preferred scholarship. When asked if it was her responsibility to know about the Charles Koch Foundation’s intentions, given that it pledged $3 million to the CSS, Toft said that it was, but that she ultimately felt “clean” because she has never allowed the foundation to impinge on her academic freedom.
“From my perspective, I am a scholar who does research to save lives,” Toft said. “It’s really about training the next generation of scholars … they’re already coming in with dissertations and, from my perspective, that’s the full story.”
Top officials at several of these charitable foundations — all of whom have donated to Tufts — have also publicly stated that they donate to universities with the intention of forming academic networks meant to support their political initiatives.
In a 2005 Philanthropy magazine article, former Executive Director of the John M. Olin Foundation James Piereson explained that the foundation, through its donations, hopes to present an alternative to an overwhelmingly liberal academic consensus in higher education.
“Frankly, we rarely thought of our work in terms of winning a dominant place for non-left-wing thought on campus, but only of establishing ‘beachheads’ at leading colleges,” Piereson wrote. “With enough funders joining in such work … donors, alumni, students, and discerning faculty may wish to challenge head on the ideological bias of the contemporary university and seek to have their ideas represented on an even plane with those of the current orthodoxy.”
Piereson added that conservative philanthropy is necessary to counteract universities’ efforts to promote faculty diversity, which he said were created to warrant hiring from traditionally progressive demographics, including “radical blacks and homosexuals.”
“‘Diversity,’ for example, is a doctrine developed out of whole cloth … to justify recruiting more radicals to the faculty to teach ever more radically charged courses,” Pierson wrote. “Diversity, in practice, has been little more than a patronage scheme for various special interest groups: feminists, radical blacks and homosexuals, environmentalists, and representatives of other groups that have been recognized by the liberal establishment.”
The John M. Olin Foundation gave $1,626,051 to Tufts from 1986 to 1998 to support several professorships and media seminars, according to financial records released by Greenpeace.
Michael Joyce, executive vice president of the John M. Olin Foundation from 1979 to 1985 and president of the Bradley Foundation from 1985 to 2001, articulated a similar vision of supporting an ideological battle within higher education in a 2003 speech at Georgetown University.
“At Olin and later at Bradley, our overarching purpose was to use philanthropy to support a war of ideas to defend and help recover the political imagination of the founders: the self-evident truth, that rights and worth are a legacy of the creator — not the result of some endless revaluing of values,” Joyce said.
Foundations at which Joyce held leadership positions donated over $2.5 million to Tufts between 1986 and 2015 during and after his tenures.
A video shown at the Bradley Foundation’s Kohler Impact Conference in 2016 explained that the organization still promotes conservative ideology through its charitable donations in an orchestrated effort to aid the electoral prospects of the Republican Party.
“No matter the outcomes of [the] Nov. 8 [elections], state think tanks will continue to research and implement conservative ideals in exactly the way our founders had intended — not from Washington, but from individual states,” the narrator said. “We at Bradley and the Bradley Impact Fund hope you will join us in recognizing and supporting these outstanding resources. Together, we can work to keep our Great Lakes blue and our states red.”
Between 1990 and 2015, the Bradley Foundation donated over one million to Tufts, including to the International Security Studies Program at Fletcher, according to its website. Fletcher Professor of International Politics Richard Shultz repeatedly declined to comment on the organization’s support of the International Security Studies Program, which he is director of.
Charles Koch Foundation Vice President Kevin Gentry similarly stated that his foundation seeks to build “fully integrated” grassroots networks through its donations to universities at a June 2014 donor conference hosted by Freedom Partners, a political fundraising organization associated with the Koch brothers, according to a transcript of the conference released by the Center for Public Integrity.
“You can see [support for] … higher education is not just limited to impact on higher education,” Gentry said. “[Students] … populate our program, these think tanks, and grassroots.”
Gentry continued by explaining how these grassroots networks can be used to support the Charles Koch Foundation’s electoral priorities.
“It’s not just work at the universities with the students, but it’s also building state-based capabilities and election capabilities, and integrating this talent pipeline,” he said. “So you can see how this is useful to each other over time. No one else has this infrastructure.”
Part 2: University donors support discriminatory, discredited scholarship
This part was first published on Nov. 27.
The seven organizations featured in this investigation, all of which have donated to Tufts since 1985, have funded highly provocative and academically controversial research and publications at universities across the United States. These foundations’ funding efforts supported racially and religiously inflammatory media campaigns and scholarship.
John Templeton Foundation (Donations to Tufts: $6,699,828)
The John Templeton Foundation funded the now-closed Cultural Change Institute at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, founded in 2007 by former Fletcher adjunct professor and senior research fellow Lawrence Harrison, who has a history of racially divisive scholarship.
In his 1985 book, “Underdevelopment is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case,” Harrison argued that black slaves in Barbados benefited culturally from their enslavement due to the ‘noble’ acts of their British masters, leading to greater economic development, especially when compared to countries like Haiti.
“The [Barbadian] slaves were beneficiaries of significant acts of English noblesse oblige starting early in the eighteenth century,” Harrison wrote.
In an email to the Daily, former Fletcher professor Miguel Basáñez, who was named director of the Cultural Change Institute following Harrison’s retirement in 2010, refuted Harrison’s analysis of Barbados’ contemporary success relative to Haiti, saying he failed to consider the U.S. blockade of Haiti, which occurred after the country gained its independence from France in a slave rebellion.
Richard Lerner, a professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, directs Tufts’ Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, which receives funding from the Templeton Foundation. Lerner, who has intermittently served as a member of the Templeton Foundation’s Board of Advisors since 2003, called Harrison’s views “abhorrent” if true but ultimately unrepresentative of the Templeton family.
“Let me say this in their defense: Knowing the late Jack Templeton, knowing the staff that still is there and knowing the Templeton family, they have not a bone of racial animosity or prejudice in them, and I’ve seen them in numerous contexts defending racial diversity … that being said, I find [Harrison’s] ideas more than objectionable — I find them abhorrent, frankly,” Lerner said.
The Templeton Foundation also funded Harrison’s 2013 book, “Jews, Confucians, and Protestants: Cultural Capital and the End of Multiculturalism,” in which he wrote that “black subculture, not racism and discrimination, was the principal cause of black underachievement.”
In a 2008 Christian Science Monitor opinion piece, Harrison identified the “Anglo-Protestant cultural tradition” as a way to create “homogeneity” to promote social progress.
Basáñez said that Harrison was a long-standing academic collaborator and a personal friend of Samuel Huntington, who was the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University and shared Harrison’s views on Latin Americans in the United States.
“What that [collaboration] made them both is to become very much anti-migrant and very much despising Latin people and Latinos in the U.S.,” Basáñez said.
When asked about Harrison and the Cultural Change Institute, Templeton Foundation’s senior vice president of programs, Michael Murray, told the Daily in an email that the foundation values “open-mindedness” in all of the fields it supports.
“We truly believe in the values of open-mindedness, humility, and civil, informed dialogue across disciplines,” Michael Murray said. “To that end we fund cutting-edge research from physics to philosophy, on complexity, genetics, and consciousness, and within different faith traditions around the world.”
Lupita Ervin, an administrative coordinator at Fletcher who worked as an assistant to Harrison, did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment.
In addition to funding racially divisive research at Fletcher, the Templeton Foundation has also supported controversial research led by Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. Benson’s research investigated whether prayers can heal the sick even if patients are unaware that they are being prayed for, according to a simplified copy of the study’s trial report published in the American Heart Journal in 2006. The trial ultimately concluded that prayers had no direct effect on patient recovery.
“Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG [heart surgery], but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications,” the study found.
The study cost $2.4 million and was largely funded by the Templeton Foundation, according to a 2006 article published in the Scientific American magazine.
Lerner said he was unaware of the organization’s funding of intercessory prayer research.
The Templeton Foundation has also supported college classes and conferences in which intelligent design was debated as scientific theory, according to a 2011 Nature article written by former Nature editor Mitchell Waldrop.
“Other Templeton grants supported a number of college courses in which intelligent design was discussed,” Waldrop wrote. “Then, in 1999, the foundation funded a conference at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, in which intelligent-design proponents confronted critics.”
After these conferences concluded, the Templeton Foundation asked proponents of intelligent design to submit research proposals, but no proponents took the foundation up on its offer according to statements made by the organization’s former senior vice president Charles L. Harper Jr. to The New York Times in 2005.
“They never came in,” Harper said. “From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don’t come out very well in our world of scientific review.”
Harper added that other members of the Templeton Foundation were initially intrigued about funding research of intelligent design but ultimately became disillusioned with the subject.
Waldrop pinpointed the onset of the foundation’s waning interest in such research to the early 2000s, when it became evident that intelligent design is a politically informed, unscientific theory.
“Disillusionment set in — and Templeton funding stopped — when it became clear that the theory was part of a political movement from the Christian right wing, not science,” Waldrop said.
Academics who argued in favor of intelligent design on college campuses were already being discredited by their peers, according to The New York Times’ national religion correspondent Laurie Goodstein.
“On college campuses, the movement’s theorists are academic pariahs, publicly denounced by their own colleagues,” Goodstein wrote. “It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies.”
Lerner told the Daily that he believed the Templeton Foundation funded research to counter intelligent design’s “anti-scientific view of evolution,” not to support research in favor of it, when he accepted money from the organization.
Waldrop highlighted the changes that the Templeton Foundation made to its peer review process in the years before it began donating to Tufts, specifically the foundation’s assignment of program officers to oversee each of its major topics of focus.
“It remains to be seen how reassuring these changes will be for scientists still sceptical of the foundation — although Marsh notes that last year’s inaugural announcement of 13 funding priorities drew some 2,500 submissions,” Waldrop wrote in his 2011 Nature article.
The Templeton Foundation funded Harrison’s racially provocative scholarship until 2013.
Jack Templeton, chairman and president of the Templeton Foundation from 1995 to 2015, also donated $900,000 out of his own pocket to support the National Organization for Marriage and ProtectMarriage.com during the 2008 California Proposition 8 campaign, according to the state’s campaign finance records. These groups ran anti-LGBTQ ads during the campaign that argued in favor of banning same-sex marriage in California.
Lerner said that he was unaware of Jack Templeton’s involvement with these groups. When asked what he thought of these funding efforts, Lerner added that the donations were made from Jack Templeton’s personal account rather than from the foundation.
Charles Koch Foundation (Donations pledged to Tufts: $3,000,000)
The Charles Koch Foundation’s purchase of a large electronics company that produces technology for drones and other unmanned military vehicles raises questions about the foundation’s motives for donating $3 million to establish Fletcher’s Center for Strategic Studies (CSS).
The Koch brothers acquired the company Molex in 2013 for $7.2 billion. Molex develops and manufactures a multitude of defense technology, including aircraft radar and communications systems, missile guidance systems and unmanned vehicle monitoring systems, according to the company’s 2015 product report.
Included in the CSS’ stated mission is the exploration of strategies to “enhance US security, sovereignty, prosperity, and territory” and to “question the utility of military intervention given its potential perils and long-term unintended consequences; including but not limited to, the loss of life, civil liberties, and resources.”
CSS Director Monica Toft said she was unaware of Koch Industries’ 2013 acquisition of Molex and added that she believes her research is “extraordinarily important” and saves lives, regardless of donor intent.
Ralph Wilson, co-founder of UnKoch My Campus, said that the Koch brothers’ support of the CSS suggests that the Charles Koch Foundation is funding research that advances its own private interests.
“Considering [the Koch brothers’] profit motive in unmanned aerial vehicles … to me, the ‘Occam’s razor’ cheapest, easiest explanation would be they’re advocating for what might be foreign intervention with less of a human cost that would also profit them,” Wilson said.
The Koch brothers have also funded a network of organizations engaged in efforts to reject climate change scholarship. As a result, Robert Brulle, professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University, identified the Charles Koch Foundation as a supporter of the “climate change counter-movement” in a 2010 study.
“The efforts of the [climate change counter-movement] span a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts that aim at undermining climate science,” Brulle wrote.
From 1987 to 2015, the Charles Koch Foundation donated nearly $350,000 to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF), according to Greenpeace. AERF, now known as the Atlas Network, co-sponsored an event in 2010 that was dedicated to the idea that global warming “is not a crisis,” according to its website.
The Charles Koch Foundation has also provided tens of thousands of dollars to the John Locke Foundation, which has consistently lobbied against climate change-related policy efforts, according to a 2010 report written by Sue Sturgis, editorial director of the Institute for Southern Studies.
“The Locke Foundation distributed to all members of the [North Carolina] state legislature the Michael Crichton novel ‘State of Fear,’ a work of fiction that promoted the views of Dr. S. Fred Singer, a prominent climate skeptic,” Sturgis wrote.
Brulle also identified The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Earhart Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation and Smith Richardson Foundation as donors to the “climate change counter-movement,” based on their funding of the AERF, among other organizations. These four foundations have donated a total of nearly $10 million to Tufts since 1985.
Brulle added that all of them, with the exception of the Smith Richardson Foundation, have donated millions of dollars to the Heritage Foundation, which picked data out of context from a 2010 Royal Society report to argue that scientists are uncertain about the existence of anthropogenic climate change, according to Greenpeace.
Smith Richardson Foundation (Donations to Tufts: $1,193,017)
The Smith Richardson Foundation has directly contributed to racially provocative research at Tufts. Marin Strmecki, senior vice president and director of programs at the Smith Richardson Foundation, suggested that Lawrence Harrison establish the Cultural Change Institute at The Fletcher School, according to Harrison’s 2013 book, “Jews, Confucians, and Protestants: Cultural Capital and the End of Multiculturalism.” The Smith Richardson Foundation also contributed funding to Harrison’s book, which contained racially divisive statements.
The Smith Richardson Foundation has funded discriminatory publications at other universities. In the 1980s, the Smith Richardson Foundation teamed up with the Earhart Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation to fund the Dartmouth Review, which outed members of Dartmouth College’s Gay Student Alliance after obtaining the correspondence files of several of the alliance’s members, according to a 1981 article in The New York Times. Tufts has received $1,413,008 from the Earhart Foundation and $1,626,051 from the John M. Olin Foundation.
“One student named, according to his friends, became severely depressed and talked repeatedly of suicide,” the article said. “The grandfather of another who had not found the courage to tell his family of his homosexuality learned about his grandson when he got his copy of The Review in the mail.”
The Dartmouth Review also mocked black students in an editorial written in Ebonics, according to journalist Jane Mayer in her 2016 book, “Dark Money.”
The Smith Richardson, Sarah Scaife and John M. Olin foundations all continued to indirectly support the Dartmouth Review after these incidents through their contributions to the Collegiate Network, which provides funding for the Dartmouth Review to this day, according to the network’s website.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (Donations to Tufts: $1,018,250)
Outside of Tufts, the Bradley Foundation has also supported scholars and publications accused of promoting discredited and racist research.
In 2016, the Bradley Foundation awarded a Bradley Prize worth $250,000 to Charles Murray, the F.A. Hayek Emeritus Chair in Cultural Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, whose 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” also funded by the foundation, proposed that black people might have inherently lower IQs than white people due to genetic differences.
“Another line of evidence pointing toward a genetic factor in cognitive ethnic differences is that blacks and whites differ most on the tests that are the best measures of … general intelligence,” Charles Murray said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center stated on its website that Charles Murray uses “racist pseudoscience” to support discredited academic research.
“Charles Murray … has become one of the most influential social scientists in America, using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor,” the center’s website said.
The Daily repeatedly reached out to Richard Shultz, director of the International Security Studies Program at Fletcher, to discuss the Bradley Foundation’s continued funding of Charles Murray and the program’s acceptance of the foundation’s donations, but Shultz declined to comment.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the publication year of Jane Mayer’s book “Dark Money.” The book was published in 2016, not 2017. The Daily regrets this error.
Part 3: Tufts policies fail to assess donors’ controversial histories, motives
This part was first published on Nov. 28.
Tufts has received over $22 million in donations from the seven foundations examined in this investigation, with a portion of the funds earmarked for specific university programs and institutes, including some at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Some of these donations were accepted without full knowledge of the donors’ histories of funding controversial scholarship elsewhere in the United States despite a donation review process that involves several university offices, according to interviews with Tufts administrators and faculty.
Tufts’ Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins told the Daily in an email that the university evaluates charitable contributions for research on “a case by case basis.”
“The decision to apply for and/or accept sponsored research funding is made on a case by case basis,” Collins said. “All grant applications and awards are reviewed by the researchers involved, the Office of the Vice Provost of Research, and other offices, such as Corporate and Foundation Relations and Legal, as necessary.”
These offices accept donations on the basis that they help students by providing learning experiences and research opportunities, they are vital to the researchers’ scholarship and they “contribute to the university maintaining and enhancing its reputation as an elite research institution,” according to Collins.
Collins did not respond when asked if Tufts assesses the credibility and funding histories of potential donors before accepting their donations. He also did not respond when asked if Tufts reviews potential donors based on their stated political intentions or their past funding of controversial or discredited research.
Collins, however, said that Tufts evaluates the quality of the grant awards based on the university’s values and programs.
“The university will not accept grant awards that conflict with the university’s mission, academic programs, or services, or that compromise academic freedom and the rigorous and independent pursuit of truth,” he said.
Tufts’ analysis of the merits of a potential donation based on its on-campus effects, rather than the donor’s past funding efforts and personal interests, is reflected in interviews the Daily conducted with faculty members who oversaw programs that received contributions from the seven charitable foundations covered in this investigation.
Monica Toft, director of the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the Fletcher School, which was founded in 2017 through a $3 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, was unaware that the foundation in 2010 requested students’ personal email addresses from the director of a program it funded at the College of Charleston. Toft noted that she has never given student data to the Charles Koch Foundation.
However, Collins told the Daily that Tufts donors occasionally ask for students’ personal information as a condition of the students’ participation in the programs supported by the donors.
“Some organizations that support fellowships and scholarships request student contact and email information as part of the application process,” Collins said. “Students who apply for these opportunities would provide their personal contact information at that time.”
Toft was also unaware that in 2013, the Koch brothers acquired an electronics company that manufactures military technology relevant to the CSS’ scholarship and that, in the last four years, two key Charles Koch Foundation officials told donors and professors in secretly recorded speeches that the foundation invests in higher education to support politically motivated scholarship.
Nonetheless, Toft concluded that the Charles Koch Foundation’s history of promoting its political agenda at various universities, as well as its potential conflict of interest, is irrelevant to her work because the foundation gave the CSS complete academic freedom.
“From my perspective, I am a scholar who does research to save lives,” she said. “It’s really about training the next generation of scholars … they’re already coming in with dissertations and, from my perspective, that’s the full story.”
Richard Lerner, director of Tufts’ Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, which received funding from the John Templeton Foundation, was unaware that the Templeton Foundation has also supported organizations that pulled scientific findings out of context to downplay the effects of climate change. Lerner was also unaware that the Templeton Foundation supported former Fletcher adjunct professor and senior research fellow Lawrence Harrison’s 2013 book, in which he argued that “black subculture, not racism and discrimination, was the principal cause of black underachievement,” and that the foundation funded research investigating whether prayers can heal the sick without the knowledge of those receiving them.
Lerner called some of the Templeton Foundation’s past funding recipients’ views “abhorrent” and “totally inappropriate” but defended Jack Templeton, who served as the foundation’s president and chairman from 1995 to 2015.
“Knowing the late Jack Templeton, knowing the staff that still is there and knowing the Templeton family, they have not a bone of racial animosity or prejudice in them, and I’ve seen them in numerous contexts defending racial diversity,” Lerner said.
Richard Shultz serves as director of Fletcher’s International Security Studies Program, which has accepted funds from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Earhart Foundation, according to Fletcher’s current and archived websites. Shultz repeatedly declined to comment on the program’s acceptance of these donations.
Miguel Basáñez, former director of Fletcher’s now-closed Cultural Change Institute, which also received donations from the Templeton Foundation, referred all grant-related questions to the institute’s former program officer, Kate Taylor.
Taylor, who now serves as associate director of the Global Master of Arts Program, had not responded as of press time.
Conversations with Tufts administrators and faculty responsible for managing donations from the seven organizations examined in this investigation reveal that they are often unaware of, or uninterested in, donors’ philanthropic record and relevant interests. Tufts’ disregard could allow these foundations and others to engage in the same self-promotion and recruiting tactics that they have used at other universities.
Part 4: Tufts’ multimillion-dollar donation network in context
This part was first published on Nov. 29.
This investigation documents that Tufts has received over $22 million in donations from seven charitable foundations with histories of supporting questionable scholarship and promoting political agendas at other institutions of higher education.
Besides Tufts, leading universities across the country have also accepted millions of dollars from the foundations covered in this investigation, according to tax records made available by American Bridge 21st Century.
Harvard University has accepted over $9 million from The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation since 1986 and nearly $6 million from the John Templeton Foundation since 2006.
The University of California, Los Angeles has accepted over $2 million from the Bradley Foundation since 1986 and over $1 million from the Smith Richardson Foundation since 1998.
Tufts received significantly more money from these organizations than many of its peer institutions across the country, having accepted $22 million in donations. However, it has accepted considerably less than schools like Yale University and the University of Chicago, which have received over $30 million and over $51 million, respectively, from several of the foundations covered in this report.
Yale University accepted over $19 million from the John M. Olin Foundation from 1985 to 2008 and has accepted nearly $12 million from the Smith Richardson Foundation since 1996.
The University of Chicago has accepted nearly $16 million from the Templeton Foundation since 2006, over $14 million from the the John M. Olin Foundation between 1985 and 2005, over $11.5 million from the Bradley Foundation since 1986, over $5 million from the Sarah Scaife Foundation since 1985, over $2.7 million from the Smith Richardson Foundation since 1996, over $2 million from the Earhart Foundation since 1995 and $5,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation since 2014.
Ralph Wilson, co-founder of UnKoch My Campus, said that the scale of these donors’ contributions has increased significantly since the 1980s.
“It’s interesting because it’s been a kind of long game,” Wilson said. “What we’re seeing more recently are really aggressive, highly funded, highly targeted efforts. That’s the big difference … since the founding of the [Charles] Koch Foundation [in 1980].”
The increase in contributions from these charitable foundations in recent decades is reflected in Tufts’ donation acceptance record. From 1985 to 2000, the university accepted a cumulative annual average of $361,403 from the seven organizations covered in this investigation. From 2001 to 2016, that figure rose to $861,732. In 2017, Tufts accepted a six-year, $3 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to fund the Center for Strategic Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
At the same time, many of these foundations have adopted increasingly aggressive strategies to discredit media coverage and criticism of their activities.
In her 2016 book, “Dark Money,” journalist Jane Mayer reported that Koch Industries hired a public relations team in 2011 to attack reporters who covered the funding efforts of Koch-affiliated enterprises and foundations.
“To fight back, [Philip Ellender, Koch Industries’ president of government and public affairs] launched a pugnacious corporate Web site called KochFacts that waged ad hominem attacks, questioning the professionalism and integrity of reporters whose work the company found unflattering, ranging from The New York Times to Politico,” Mayer wrote. “Brass-knuckle tactics were nothing new for the Koch brothers, but they were now deploying them against legitimate news reporters.”
Mayer also claimed that she was targeted by the Koch brothers for her reporting.
“[As] the Kochs were ramping up spending on the midterm elections, half a dozen or so highly paid operatives labored secretly in borrowed office space in the back of the lobbying firm run by the former congressman J. C. Watts,” Mayer wrote. “Their aim, according to a well-informed source, was to counteract The New Yorker’s story on the Koch brothers by undermining me. ‘Dirt, dirt, dirt’ is what the source later told me they were digging for in my life. ‘If they couldn’t find it, they’d create it.’”
Internal documents from the Bradley Foundation, obtained illegally by hackers and published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2017, reveal that the foundation maintains a list of organizations “that attack groups and people helping the Foundation further its mission.”
The Bradley Foundation identifies the magazine Mother Jones in these documents for, “Among other things, aggressively [covering] what it calls conservative ‘dark money’ and elections.”
Mayer noted that many of these donors hold conservative-leaning ideologies because liberal organizations tend to focus more on electoral politics than academia. Officials at the foundations covered in this investigation have stated their intentions to support politically informed scholarship at universities across the country.
The foundations’ funding has elevated racially divisive scholarship, outed gay students, downplayed or denied the effects of climate change and investigated the scientific basis of intercessory prayer and intelligent design. They have also requested students’ contact information in order to improve their “election capabilities” and have targeted journalists who report on their donation practices.
Nonetheless, Tufts administrators and faculty responsible for managing these donations remain unaware of, or unconcerned with, the donors’ controversial practices at other universities and their personal interests at Tufts. Instead, the university’s review of potential donations appears to focus solely on their direct, on-campus impact.