As a proud alumna of Suffolk University, I’d first like to say: welcome to our University! New leadership means a fresh start and I’m excited to see what opportunities your presidency will present for the Suffolk community, past and present.
Because I love my alma mater and care about its future, last fall I began a campaign, Koch Free Zone, to bring attention the Kochs’ influence at Suffolk. As you may know, the Koch brothers, wealthy industrialists from Kansas, have give millions of dollars to colleges across the country in an attempt to influence academic research and class curriculum. The Kochs have donated over $750,000 to Suffolk since 2008, which is much more than many of these schools have received.
But this isn’t just kindhearted philanthropy. Most of this money, we believe, has gone to the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI), which has repeatedly been criticized for its inaccurate and biased research methodology. As the Suffolk Journal pointed out in a piece last November, that poorly-conducted research is then used by a variety of actors known for their connections to the Kochs to push irresponsible policies on the state level that benefit the Kochs’ bottom line.
It begs the question: Is Suffolk complicit in this clear conflict of interest?
Our campaign submitted two petitions last year of more than 20,000 signatures each to President McCarthy regarding our concerns about academic integrity and transparency at Suffolk. After months of petitioning, President McCarthy and his administration took the first steps towards transparency last June by publishing a report of the grants the University is receiving.
Unfortunately, though, we have yet to receive assurance from the University that the contracts (or memoranda of understanding) that the Koch Foundations are entering into with Suffolk do not constitute significant violations of academic integrity. I’m hopeful, though, that with you at the helm, we can get to the bottom of this. Suffolk’s connection to Koch and BHI’s questionable research has called into its reputation and standing as a credible institute of higher learning. Quite simply: The Beacon Hill Institute is eroding Suffolk’s good name.
As you recently remarked to the Suffolk Journal: “[Suffolk] deserves to be at a much higher level than it is.” I could not agree more. Suffolk has amazing potential, and our students and alumni deserve a university that prides itself on academic integrity and transparency. The only way we can accomplish this is making our university’s giving and grant making procedure more transparent.
We would like to request a meeting with you, President Smith, and a commitment to work with us to bring greater transparency and accountability to our university by releasing all contracts and memorandums of understanding from the Charles Koch Foundation. On behalf of the Koch Free Zone campaign, I look forward to your response.