Suffolk U Breaks Ties With On-Campus Conservative Think Tank

December 3, 2015

Suffolk University is severing ties with the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative research center funded in part by the conservative Koch Foundation, The Boston Globe reported. A university spokesman said it was the center’s decision to leave, but David Tuerck, center director, told the Globe that Suffolk made it impossible to stay on there by denying research proposals and limiting funding sources. Tuerck said the trouble peaked about six months ago, after Margaret McKenna, a political liberal, became Suffolk’s president. Greg Gatlin, a Suffolk spokesman, denied the change had anything to do with how the institution treated the center. Rather, he told the Globe, Suffolk requires research centers to be self-sustaining and Beacon Hill had run a deficit for years.

Suffolk’s relationship with Beacon Hill became strained in 2013, after the center proposed a study aimed at weakening a regional initiative to reduce carbon pollution, the Globe reported. The university said at the time that the goals of that research were not in line with its mission. Tuerck said, "The entire administration made up their mind that they were troubled by what we were doing in some way, where we were getting money, how we were using the money, what we were saying, and they wanted things to change."

While some have criticized the center for accepting donations from the Koch Foundation, Tuerck told the Globe that the center receives just 1 percent of its funds from the organization, or about $33,000 over three years. He said he wasn't opposed to reasonable limits on fund-raising, but that those imposed on the center had become too onerous. But Kalin Jordan, a Suffolk graduate and co-founder of the group UnKoch My Campus, said via email that that is potentially misleading, since Beacon Hill has received more than $800,000 from the notoriously antiregulation Kochs since 2008, based on a database of federal tax filings she helps maintain. The center will move off campus next year, in what Tuerck called an "amicable divorce."

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