Although it is not unusual for the wealthy billionaires to donate towards education and schools, sometimes the size of the donations make headlines. One such example is the Charles Koch Foundation’s donation towards George Mason University.
George Mason University is a public school located outside the nation’s capital. The donations towards the University made the headlines after it was reported that the University had enjoyed nearly $48 million in donations from the Charles Koch Foundation between 2011 and 2014. Although the Foundation donates over $20 million annually towards education, the donation to George Mason University would make about half of the entire donation over the period.
Why all this donation to a single institution? Well, there are several reasons for this. Foremost, over the years, George Mason University has quietly established itself as a conservative powerhouse in economics and law, a field that Charles Koch, the founder of the Charles Koch Foundation is passionate about. Secondly, George Mason has always had a connection to the Foundation. Currently, Charles Koch himself the Chairman of the IHS board as well as a member of the Mercatus board.
Charles Koch is not the only link between Koch Industries and George Mason University. Richard Fink, who is an executive vice president of Koch Industries, also serves on the IHS and Mercatus boards. Previously, Nancy Pfotenhauer, the head of Koch Industries’ Washington office also served on the board.
In 2014 alone, George Mason benefited from the Charles Koch Foundation by receiving $16.8 million. This amount accounted for more than a third of the total donation George Mason received from donors. The relationship keeps growing and most recently, Mason’s law school received a $10 million gift from the Koch Foundation.
The Charles Koch Foundation funds mainly go towards the Mercatus Center. The Mercatus Center is a free-market think tank involved in conducting research geared towards educating the federal regulators and Congress staff, who can, later on, influence the direction of government.