Koch Foundation grant bolsters graduate program

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Brothers David and Charles Koch, shown above, are known for their political donations. Photo courtesy of the Koch Foundation.

The Charles Koch Foundation recently awarded a $1.09 million grant to the University of Dallas for the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts.

The grant is the largest UD has ever received for liberal arts curriculum development and scholarships, according to Dr. Matthew Post, the Graduate Director of Classical Education.

Some of the money will provide salaries for two new tenure-track faculty members. One faculty member will be a part of the Alternative Teacher Certification program, which is currently being developed, and one will be for the preexisting Classical Education program, according to a UD press release published Oct. 12.

In addition, the money will be used in providing scholarships for up to 100 classical educators, according to the press release.

Both programs will be available long-distance through online courses, as well as through traditional face-to-face courses at the UD campus, according to Post.

UD’s Classical Education program was established in 2016 with the goal of forming teachers and others working at K-12 schools to transmit the classical education, which Post describes as “the pursuit of a full, meaningful and virtuous life.”

The program aims to help homeschoolers, and help teachers and leaders to provide the highest quality classical education to students, as well as go beyond the classroom to “help students, teachers, and schools across the country flourish,” Post wrote.

It is the first program of its kind in the nation for classical educators, according to Post.

Grants from the Charles Koch Foundation have been the subject of controversy in the past, particularly because of billionaire Charles Koch’s significant political involvement in supporting libertarian causes and Republican candidates.

In the foundation itself, certain terms of past agreements with universities were unclear and may have allowed the foundation a role in suggesting faculty assignments, according to a July 24, 2018 article by the Wall Street Journal.

However, the foundation’s grant terms no longer contain these controversial clauses, according to an undated open letter published by the foundation.

The foundation recently started publicly announcing its multi-year grant agreements with universities in an effort to create greater transparency, according to the Wall Street Journal article.

Post wrote that UD and the Charles Koch Foundation are both “dedicated to preserving and advancing the integrity of the university’s mission,” including “respecting faculty governance and academic freedom,” as spelled out in the terms of the grant agreement.

Program officers in the Charles Koch Foundation encouraged UD to apply for the grant because of the current innovative work of the Classical Education program, as well as UD’s future plans for the expansion of the program, according to Post. UD faculty members and administrators were involved in discussions with the Charles Koch Foundation for approximately 18 months before applying for the grant.

The preparation clearly aided UD’s cause, as UD is now part of a prestigious group of grant awardees including the likes of Harvard University and MIT.

The grant expands a program which reflects many of the core tenants of UD and supports hard-working teachers in providing a quality education for future generations.

“Our Classical Education programs are another way for the university to serve its mission, to participate in the life of the community, to spread the word about everything great we have to offer, and, ultimately, to create more avenues for our excellent students, those who are interested, to go into the world and become excellent teachers,” Post wrote.

“As both philosophy and common sense teach us, there is scarcely anything more important than the education of the young, or any vocation nobler than that of the teacher,” Post added.

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