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May 05, 2016

George Mason Faculty Questions Donor Pacts Amid Scalia Furor

George Mason University’s Faculty Senate urged the institution Wednesday to put on hold gift agreements worth $30 million from conservative donors that have divided students and professors on the Northern Virginia campus, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Washington Post write.

Faculty leaders approved a resolution calling for further review of an anonymous $20 million gift under which George Mason’s law school would be renamed for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, pending approval by a state higher-education body. The Senate also sought a delay on a $10 million contribution from the Charles Koch Foundation. Both gifts would fund scholarships for law students.

Opponents said the Koch pact gives the foundation undue influence over campus governance, citing a provision tying the funds to the law school’s current dean remaining in place. Law professors said critics of the donations were targeting conservative ideas and academic freedom. A George Mason spokeswoman said the university "appreciates the valuable feedback" from the faculty group but added that the donations “will help hundreds of students attend law school — students who otherwise might not have had that chance."