Resolution would cut ties to nonprofit

The Urbana-Champaign Senate has a proposed resolution that would request President Michael Hogan to dissolve all University relations with the nonprofit fundraising organization, the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation, along with returning all funding provided by the academy.

The U-C Senate will vote on the resolution at its meeting on Monday at 3:10 p.m. in the Levis Faculty Center.

Donald Kojich, associate vice president for marketing and communications for the University of Illinois Foundation, said the academy was formed in 2006 to “enhance the academic experience for students on the Urbana campus.”

The University of Illinois Foundation works with the University to raise funds from the private sector and has secured over $2 billion since 2002.

Kojich said the University of Illinois Foundation acts as an intermediary between the academy and the University. He added that private giving is less than 4 percent of the University’s overall budget.

He said the organization funds different projects and has supported things such as funding a group of faculty and students to go overseas to study Asian markets and business practices.

According to the academy’s website, the nonprofit seeks to “promote and advance scholarly research and teaching about the principles of free market capitalism, individual rights, individual responsibility, limited government, entrepreneurship and enterprise as the foundation of a productive and successful society.”

The senate, former chancellor Richard Herman and a campus committee decided that the academy should be fully independent of the University in 2008, according to the senate’s resolution.

U-C Senate Chair of the Executive Committee Joyce Tolliver said the response from academy spokespeople was positive two years ago, but the organization never became fully independent.

She said the academy has a tax-exempt status as a “supporting organization,” which it is able to achieve through the University’s tax-exempt status.

Matthew Brown, president and CEO of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation, said it is unfortunate that the senate is considering the resolution.

“We make very clear, I think, that we’re not part of the University; we’re not acting on behalf of the University,” Brown said.

David Wall, member of the senate’s executive committee and junior in LAS, said the academy has a “libertarian capitalist approach” and that there is concern over its status as part of the University when the school has very little control over it.

“If you’re using our name as the University of Illinois, then we should have some control over it,” he said.

Brown said he does not see anything wrong with the academy using the University’s name.

“Everybody who supports the University uses the University’s name,” he said. “There’s nothing inappropriate about that. That’s just what people do when they care about something.”

Brown, who was not asked to attend Monday’s meeting, added he was surprised by some of the questions he has gotten from the few members of the senate who have reached out to him.

“The discussion has really gotten away from the facts,” he said.

The University Senates Conference, comprised of elected faculty members from all three campus senates, passed a similar resolution on Sept. 22.

Wall said although that resolution already passed, the U-C Senate’s resolution is unique because it includes student perspectives.

Tolliver said one concern that has come up in the senate’s discussion is the risk of alienating donors.

“We are in a time of fiscal crisis and we do unfortunately need to be very, very aware of gifts and endowments as a major source of our budget,” she said. “That does not mean that we accept any donation that is offered to us.”

She added she is very grateful to those who wish to support the institution, but they need to do so in accordance with the University’s mission.

Although the resolution acknowledges the rights of organizations and groups to promote their points of view, it states that a “public university exists for the common good, not for the propagation of the views of its donors.”

Kojich said it is difficult to remove personal views from any donations.

“The people who support the academy have certain views about the role of government and capitalistic principles and the markets,” he said. “Is that different from somebody who wants to fund a center or an institute that is interested in another particular area?”