Faculty Senate wants a voice in Chapman donation policy

Chapman’s Faculty Senate President Paul Gulino speaks as the meeting on March 15. The Senate voted on and passed a resolution regarding the acceptance of future donations to the university. Photo by Sydnee Valdez

In the wake of the national admissions scandal, Chapman’s faculty senate has passed a resolution requesting faculty and the administration collaborate on establishing a set of “donor policies” be established to prevent the university from being unethically influenced by money.

Chapman’s Faculty Senate voted on a resolution that advocated for the resistance of future donations that have inappropriate influences on faculty hiring and predetermined outcomes of  research projects, according to the Faculty Senate.

The official resolution reads: The Chapman Faculty senate greatly appreciates the vital role that donors play in advancing the educational mission of the university.  

Chapman University has the ethical obligation to generate knowledge free of any improper influence; therefore, the Faculty Senate endorses the President’s statement that Chapman University not accept donations that require the university to hire faculty dictated by the donor, or agree to engage in research for which the outcome is predetermined. Further, the senate respectfully recommends that Chapman University strengthen this policy by pledging to resist any inappropriate influence from donors or donations whether explicit or implicit.

The faculty senate encourages the formation of a strong partnership between faculty and administration to create a set of donor policies that makes Chapman University a national leader in developing ethical guidelines governing donor involvement in university affairs, hiring practices, and production of knowledge.”

The vote was originally scheduled as a response to controversial donations from the Charles Koch Foundation, which roiled sectors of Chapman faculty. By coincidence, it also came days after a nationwide college bribery scandal broke which involved the university. Chapman was named in as the destination for  $325,000 in donations by a fraudulent charity, according to the charity’s 990 forms.

Two donations were reportedly made from the charity (headed by Newport resident William “Rick” Singer), which federal prosecutors say was a money laundering front for parents to get their underqualified kids into college, according to federal indictments.

Prior to the donations the university was accused of accepting a student, Dylan Sidoo, with fraudulent SAT scores obtained after his wealthy father paid $100,000 to Singer, who hired a ringer to take the young man’s test for him.

This is the second reading of the resolution since November, according to Chair of the Faculty Governance Council Lynda Hall. During the meeting, a second revision was made, and 57 percent of the 30 faculty members voted in concordance with the resolution while 43 percent either abstained or voted against it.

“It is a bare minimum majority. It passes,” Hall said in the meeting.

At the senate meeting, Associate Professor at Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences David Frederick proposed the friendly amendment,and it was accepted by Hall. In his amendment, he acknowledged the importance of donors, emphasized “improper” influences, and set forth the idea of Chapman faculty becoming the leaders in making sure that all donations are ethically received.

“It’s good to acknowledge the importance of donors to the university,” Frederick said.

The resolution grew out of a faculty response to an earlier statement made by Chapman President Daniele Struppa in a guest editorial defending acceptance of money donated by the Koch foundation that read “Chapman University has not and will not accept donations that require the university to hire faculty dictated by the donor. Nor would we ever agree to engage in research whose outcome is predetermined by any donor.”

The Senate Executive Board proposed voting to endorse the statement and after discussion, it was expanded.

Despite having discussed the issue of accepting controversial donations for several months, some faculty members did not apparently agree with the new resolution.

“I just want to understand. Are we still discussing this again, or is it done?” asked Computational and Data Science Graduate Programs Professor Heshman El-Askary.

El-Askary and another faculty member objected to the revised resolution but their concerns were not explored because voting for the resolution had already begun, Hall later explained.

This is the second reading, we took the amendment, we had the vote. We’ve got to move on,” Faculty Senate President Paul Gulino said.

Gulino will send the resolution to President Daniele C. Struppa, Executive Vice President of University Advancement Sheryl Bourgeois, and the Board of Trustees on March 25, according to Gulino.

Chapman officials have been working with the Department of Justice for several months as a part of the ongoing college admission scandal, and officials have not been accused of wrongdoing, according to a March 21 statement issued by Struppa.

“These allegations are very serious and are personally concerning to me,” Struppa said. “It is imperative that we look deeper into this situation and do a thorough investigation to whether we are indeed living up to our values and principles at all levels of the organization.”


Forty-four faculty members attended the meeting and listened to the second reading of the resolution. Photo by Sydnee Valdez


Sydnee Valdez

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