Three U.S. Congress members have sent letters to six American universities asking them to provide records of donations that they have accepted from foreign countries. The letters were signed by James Comer from the Oversight and Reform committee, Virginia Foxx from the Education and Labor Committee, and Jim Jordan from the Judiciary committee. The letters were sent to the presidents of Yale, Harvard, New York University, University of Delaware, University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Earlier this year, the Department of Education had launched an investigation looking into the source of Harvard’s donations. According to Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, universities are mandated to report any gifts or contracts from foreign sources that amount to over US$250,000 per annum. The three Congress members who wrote the letters were all informed about the investigation by the Education Department.
“Since 2015, Harvard University has declared 31 gifts or contracts totaling US$101,177,826 from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia — all of which were anonymous… Through the efforts of the Department, the Committee learned that many countries use donation agreements or contracts (agreements) with IHEs, professors, or researchers (recipients) to leverage their money into some type of benefit, or quid pro quo,” the letter says, as reported by The Crimson.
According to data from the Department of Education, Harvard received more than US$1.1 billion in monetary gifts and contracts from foreign countries in the six years between 2013 and 2019. England topped the list of donors with US$244 million. Hong Kong and mainland China ranked the next two spots with donations worth US$161 million and US$94 million respectively. Donations from Saudi Arabia amounted to US$30 million while Qatar’s contributions totaled US$5 million. The university reported zero donations from Iran or Russia.
Between 2015 and 2019, New York University received US$40 million from China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. During the same period, the University of Pennsylvania received $62 million. Yale, University of Chicago, and the University of Delaware got less than US$30 million. Comer wants American universities to be transparent and completely disclose their donations from U.S adversaries like Communist China to the Congress, pointing out that such relationships threaten the security of the nation.
An example of such activity was provided by the Education Department. Its investigation showed that two American universities that had ties with CCP-aligned Jilin University strongly supported the Chinese government after it was reported that the CCP coronavirus might have originated in a lab in Wuhan. During the investigation, some American universities even refused to share data about donations from China, terming them “confidential.”
U.S. universities and colleges have started laying off employees due to the financial crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic. California State University, University of Arizona, University of Massachusetts, Boston University, and several others have announced reduced pay and benefits. The University of Akron in Ohio has laid off 81 staff and 97 faculty members. Canisius College from Buffalo, New York, is expelling 71 staff members and 23 full-time faculties.
Many state universities are finding it difficult to cover budget shortfalls with federal relief. Private universities have suffered losses due to declining enrollment, cancellation of on-campus events, spending money to set up online learning infrastructure, and so on. The City University of New York system notified about 2,800 employees that they would be laid off due to funding cuts.