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February 23, 2016

Donor's Demands Spark Controversy at U. of California Campus

The University of California, Irvine, is weighing turning down $3 million from a Hindu foundation amid faculty and student protests over the level of control the donor seeks over professorships it is funding, writes the Orange County Register.

The Dharma Civilization Foundation funds professorships in the study of Eastern religions at the Southern California campus. The gift agreements include clauses specifying the skills applicants must possess and creating advisory councils for the hires. Critics link the foundation to India's Hindu nationalist movement and contend the gifts are aimed at promoting its agenda in higher education.

According to the Register, the level of donor involvement in the Dharma deals exceeds that sought by other major donors to the Irvine campus. A university committee is reviewing faculty recommendations that the gifts be rejected. The foundation denied that it is pressing a nationalist agenda and said it is willing to revise the offending provisions.