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July 08, 2016

German University Rewrites Gift Deal Amid Donor-Control Flap

A university in Germany is overhauling contracts governing about $166 million in foundation funding amid controversy over provisions critics said gave the donor too much influence over faculty hiring and publications, Science magazine reports. The move by the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz could augur changes at other research institutions in the country as academics push for greater transparency from universities and private donors.

The terms of Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation’s gift to the university’s Institute of Molecular Biology appeared to allow the donor to veto faculty appointments and approve news releases and research papers ahead of publication. Georg Krausch, the university’s president, said the intent was to ensure “quality assurance” and that the foundation had not exercised such authority, but he conceded that the contract's language fostered a perception that the university was ceding control. He said the institution would work with foundation officials to revise the deal.