Harvard and Yale under investigation over foreign money
by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 2/13/20, 11:10 am
Foreign governments could have a much greater influence on elite higher education in the United States than previously reported. The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday it is investigating Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign gifts and contracts. The department has on record more than $6.6 billion of donations from Qatar, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to U.S. universities and colleges since 1990—but that may be significantly underreported.
How did the Education Department find out? Federal prosecutors indicted Charles Lieber, chair of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard, for lying about the money he received from the Chinese government. He admitted the school doesn’t have the necessary oversight for tracking large overseas donations, many of which come with strings attached that can compromise academic freedom. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has called foreign spending on U.S. schools “a black hole.”
Dig deeper: Read Laura Edghill’s report in Schooled about just how much money Lieber received from China’s Thousand Talents Plan.
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