Letters to the editor: Volunteering and Koch brothers

Letters to the editor: Volunteering and Koch brothers
March 30
09:00 2017

Volunteering deepens my walk with Jesus

To the Editor:

At a recent board of directors’ retreat, Chaplain Rodney Stilwell asked me to speak at Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries. I was humbled, yet extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity to share my answer to this question: How has volunteering and being on the board help deepen your walk with Jesus?

The response required some deep reflection and serious prayer. Yes, I absolutely believe this ministry has deepened my walk with Him. Below are the principle measures God uses in my faith journey from these three vitally important quotes: Love is patient, love is kind … (1 Corinthians 13:4); Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle …(Many sources); For I desire mercy, not sacrifice … (Hosea 6:6).

A tradition in my house (passed down from my mother-in-law) is each member of the family recites a Bible verse after we pray over our meals. The above quote from Hosea is my go-to verse that has been written on my heart. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus references this same verse after calling Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Him. Matthew invites Jesus to his home to dine and of course Matthew has many old buddies present. These friends had the same reputation as Matthew and were regarded by the self-righteous Pharisees as “sinners”. How could Jesus associate Himself with those of such ill repute? Jesus’ replies that healthy people don’t need a doctor and to go and learn the meaning of Hosea 6:6. He wants them to show kindness to one another, even those that may seem less deserving. In fact, none of us deserve God’s mercy but He freely gives it. This is why I am so thankful to be part of this ministry. I get to see God’s mercy up close and personal.

I see God’s kindness as He shows up in the lives of men that are changed during the 7 habits on the inside class that I help teach. There is a paradigm shift.  I have heard many inmates recount reconnecting to their son, daughter, wife, mother, and father after participating in this course.

They start the 10-week class skeptical and sometimes a bit cynical. Change happens in a beautiful, subtle way each week. The inmates become more attentive. They ask a question, which makes them more vulnerable, but also helps them understand the concepts. The next week personal experiences are shared. They help others in the class and share principles learned with fellow inmates and family members. The touching stories are when they share someone in their life has started to believe in them again. At graduation you see the pride in the inmate’s face as their loved one receives the certificate of completion he has achieved. You see hope again. That’s God to me – restoration and redemption. And isn’t this the very ultimate demonstration of kindness?

In summary of the original question, God has compelled me to be more kind to others, which has expanded my heart. Just as my heart grew larger when we had more children, seeing God and his kindness enlarges my heart and kindness extended to others.  My walk with Jesus has truly deepened.

Bart Coan

Board of Directors and Past Chairman

Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church Member

Faculty Senate calls on WFU to reject Koch  Foundation funds

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017 the Faculty Senate of Wake Forest University overwhelmingly passed a motion calling on the university administration to reject $3.69 million of funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

The motion read: Due to the Charles Koch Foundation’s unprecedented effort and documented strategy to co-opt higher education for its ideological, political and financial ends, the Committee moves that Wake Forest University prohibit all Koch network funding for any of its centers or institutes.

The Ad Hoc Senate Committee on the Eudaimonia Institute (EI), charged by the Senate to review the creation of the new institute, brought the motion after four months of independent research, including numerous interviews.

Charles and David Koch (“the Koch brothers”) own Koch Industries; with annual revenues of $100 billion, Forbes named it the second largest private corporation in the United States. Consistent with their financial interests, the Kochs, their foundations, and political action networks (“Freedom Partners”) lobby to reduce government regulations.

The EI was established by the Office of the Provost in June 2016 with a pledge of major funding ($3.69 million) from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. An October 2016 petition, signed by 189 Concerned Faculty, called for a Senate review of the Institute and Koch donor agreement.

“We defend academic freedom and freedom of speech for Wake Forest University faculty and students. Our concern is the potential for undue influence exercised by corporate donors on Wake Forest University’s academic programs, public reputation and responsibility, and financial integrity,” said Gale Sigal, President, WF AAUP (American Association of University Professors)

The findings of the Ad Hoc Senate Committee included:

1. The donor agreement and its stipulations remain undisclosed despite repeated requests by the Committee and other faculty groups and

2. The “Charles G. Koch Foundation’s stated aims in ‘leveraging’ higher education are to convert students to their free market ideology, feed a ‘talent pipeline’ to their think tanks and institutes, and, through their ‘network’ of scholars, impact state and local policy.”

Similar Koch funding agreements with other universities contain mechanisms of control over curricular design, faculty positions, and the allocation of funds. Further, the Ad Hoc Committee observed, “This nationally orchestrated strategic effort represents an unprecedented attempt to co-opt higher education for ideological, political, and financial ends.” It concluded that any institutional association with the Koch Foundation and these ends, “damages the integrity and sullies the academic reputation of the University.”

By this action, the Wake Forest Faculty Senate joins a growing number of other faculty governing bodies questioning ties to Koch funded pro-grams.

“Given recent revelations about the Koch Foundation’s strategy and aims in higher education, it is our view that the University administration and Board of Trustees have the opportunity reject this funding and thereby make a bold statement in defending the integrity and academic reputation of Wake Forest University.”

Jay Ford, Chairman

Ad Hoc Senate Committee 

Wake Forest University

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