Corporate Wolves in Academic Sheepskins, or, a Billionaire’s Raid on the University of Tulsa

Jacob Howland

On April 17, I published an article in City Journal detailing the academic destruction of the University of Tulsa. Less than a week earlier, TU’s administrators had rolled out a radical restructuring of the university called “True Commitment.” The plan gutted the liberal arts, raised default teaching loads across the university from five courses per year to eight, eliminated all academic departments, created new divisions to house surviving programs (including one called “Humanities and Social Justice”), and established a “Professional Super College” consisting of the formerly independent colleges of law, health sciences, and business.

My City Journal article concluded that we had witnessed a hostile takeover that appears to have made TU “a subsidiary of Tulsa’s biggest charitable foundation and an agent of the city’s corporate interests.” It’s now clear that I didn’t know the half of it. What follows is a sordid little tale of crony capitalism under the guise of public philanthropy. It is part of a much bigger story that has yet to be told, the Pottersville-like takeover of the city of Tulsa by an extremely wealthy and influential businessman.

Tulsa native George Kaiser made enough money in oil to purchase the Bank of Oklahoma out of FDIC receivership in 1990. Kaiser now owns 54 percent of shares in BOK Financial, the bank’s parent company. In 1998, Kaiser established the Tulsa Community Foundation (TCF); he started the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), in which he has invested more than $4 billion to date (and to which he plans eventually to gift his BOK shares), as a supporting organization of TCF in 2000. Kaiser then set to work using the charity to advance his personal financial interests. A 2013 analysis of GKFF’s 2011 tax return by Bloomberg disclosed that “at least $1.25 billion of the charity’s $3.4 billion in assets is invested in ways that benefit Kaiser’s for-profit endeavors.”

Continue reading at The Nation.

This article was originally published by The Nation magazine and is republished here with permission. Read the full text of Jacob Howland's article here.

  • Share

Most Commented

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

December 22, 2020

2.

From John David to David Acevedo: Why I’m Leaving Behind My NAS Pseudonym for Good

In this piece, NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo, formerly known as John David, recounts why he chose to write pseudonymously and why he has decided to go public...

February 17, 2021

3.

New ACLU Head Has a Civil Rights Problem Back Home

Deborah Archer is the new president of the American Civil Liberties Union, but she doesn't exactly have a history of protecting civil rights at her other workplace, NYU Law....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

February 17, 2021

2.

How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

UPDATED 2/17/2021: We're keeping track of all Confucius Institutes in the United States, including those that remain open, those that closed, and those that have announced their clo...

March 2, 2021

3.

Tracking "Cancel Culture" in Higher Education

UPDATED 3/2/21: A repository of 128 administrators, professors, and students who have been "canceled" for expressing views deemed unacceptable by higher education ideologue...