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University of Louisville’s Major Gift from Pizza CEO, Koch Comes With Caveat

Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting


  A week after announcing the receipt of $6.3 million from the foundations of businessmen “Papa” John Schnatter and Charles Koch, the University of Louisville has released the underlying seven-year agreements.

The two documents affirm that the new John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise will be created by Dec. 1. It also states that the money will be spent on two tenure-track professorships, two visiting professors, center staff and expenses, up to five research grants, up to four doctoral fellowships, and classes, seminars and annual lectures.

There’s also a clause that wasn’t mentioned at last week’s news conference with President James Ramsey and Schnatter. Should Schnatter, who is giving $4.64 million, and Koch, who’s in for $1.66 million, declare that UofL or the UofL Foundation is failing to live up to its end of the agreement, they can terminate it at any time.

In that event, all obligations would be off — except for one. The university would have to continue paying the salaries and benefits of the two tenure-track professors “indefinitely.” Those salaries would amount to $642,500 a year.

Rebecca Peek, a U of L senior and member of the Student Labor Action Project, said she was ashamed of the school’s agreement.

“It will certainly affect curriculum and limit the viewpoints taught to business students,” she said in a statement. “As a student at the University of Louisville I want to know that I am being presented with information for the sake of knowledge, not to promote the personal agenda of a private interest group.”

Read the contracts here and here.

Reporter James McNair can be reached at and (502) 815-6543.

This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Disclosure: In October 2014, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $10,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation.

James McNair is a veteran investigative reporter who specializes in business and finance issues.
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