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WVU business center partly funded by Kochs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia University announced on Tuesday that it will receive $5 million in donations to create a new Center for Free Enterprise as part of its College of Business and Economics “to study the economic, political and social factors that increase prosperity.”

The money will come from the Charles Koch Foundation and from WVU business school graduate Ken Kendrick and his wife, Randy.

Joshua Hall and Andrew Young, associate economics professors at WVU, will be co-directors of the new center.

“The new center will advance teaching and research on the roles that the principles and institutions of a free society play in creating widely shared prosperity and improving quality of life, and will complement more than a decade of [the College of Business and Economics] support for the study of free market economics,” according to a WVU news release.

The center will also hire a managing director and fill at least five visiting faculty fellowships. It will also provide at least 17 students with four-year Ph.D. fellowships over the next five years.

Charles and David Koch, who head the Koch Foundation, have spent tens of millions of dollars to create and support a variety of groups that advocate conservative political positions, including Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for the Environment, the Economic Education Trust and Americans For Prosperity.

They head Koch Industries, a company involved in oil refineries, chemicals and other companies. The company produces Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber and Stainmaster carpets. Each of the brothers was worth $36 billion last year, according to Forbes magazine.

Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, dean of the WVU business school, said Tuesday that donors from any part of the political spectrum are not allowed to affect the school’s curriculum.

“We have a very clear policy, which is a university-wide policy,” Sartarelli said. “When any gifts and donations come in, the choice of personnel and the content of whatever they do is totally up to the university. We do not compromise on that.”

Sartarelli said he talks to big donors directly and tells them, “If you cannot live within that policy, then just don’t give.”

The College of Business and Economics has also accepted donations from the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Sartaterlli said. That institute is run by George Soros, a billionaire with much more liberal economic views than the Koch brothers…

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