The arrogance, corruption, and dishonesty of many of our most prestigious universities have become so bad that the only reasonable historic American parallel is Lincoln Steffens’ 1904 book “The Shame of the Cities.”
Steffens’ book was a stunning exposure of big city government corruption that convinced the American people to enact a profound wave of reforms.
Now, some of our greatest educational institutions have been corrupted by foreign interests and money. This is hurting American students, and our culture of freedom of ideas — and in some cases threatening our national security. The integrity of some of our oldest, most established universities has eroded to the point that only a major reform movement will save them — and our future.
At a minimum, we need a federal law that requires real-time, online publication of all foreign gifts to universities.
Consider three cases: the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The University of Pennsylvania created the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement for former Vice President Joseph Biden when he left office. It became a holding ground for key members of the Biden team, including the current secretary of state.
In fact, 10 Biden administration officials were on the Penn-Biden Center payroll:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Penn Biden Center managing director); White House counselor Steven Richetti (Penn Biden Center managing director); Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl (Penn Biden Center strategic consultant); Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy Spencer Boyer (Penn Biden Center senior fellow); Deputy to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeffrey Prescott (Penn Biden Center strategic consultant); Senior Adviser to the National Security Adviser Ariana Berengaut (Penn Biden Center director); U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter (Penn Biden Center managing director); Special Assistant to the President Juan Gonzalez (Penn Biden Center senior fellow); Special Assistant to Biden and Senior Director for Speechwriting and Strategic Initiatives Carlyn Reichel (Penn Biden Center director of communications); Former Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon (Penn Biden Center senior director).
Chinese Communists have donated an estimated $67 million to the University of Pennsylvania. We don’t know the actual amount or distribution — because the University of Pennsylvania refuses to open its books and be transparent or accountable.
Of course, it is the center in which a number of classified documents were found. Who put them there, who used them, and why they were taken there all remain a mystery.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News: “The Chinese Communist Party’s inside every major American university today with research dollars and with their students.
“They’re at the University of Pennsylvania, too … And we now know that this Chinese money, these Chinese officials met classified documents in that space.”
Under the previous administration, the Department of Education reported more than $6.5 billion in foreign funding and resources had been uncovered and never disclosed (contrary to law) by American universities. Money was funneled in from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, just to name a few.
Former Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said in 2020 that the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute was even more secretive than the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center. The institute houses 1,875 boxes of then-Sen. Biden’s papers and many gigabytes of electronic data — and everything is secret. Because the University of Delaware is so politically connected and powerful, it is exempt from state Freedom of Information Act laws. We have no idea who gave money to the Biden Institute or who got it.
Finally, while he was Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo was blocked from speaking at MIT because university officials thought it would offend the Chinese. One of our most prestigious universities refused to host America’s top diplomat because their relationship with China was more important. (NBA, anyone?)
As Rep. Mike Gallagher, chairman of the new Select Committee on China, wrote to me in an email: “What we need to point out relentlessly is that universities are addicted to Chinese Communist Party money. This gives the Chinese Communist Party enormous access and influence on our college campuses and recognizing this threat, the Trump administration used a little-known tool in the form of Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which requires colleges and universities to report foreign gifts and donations over $250,000.
Thanks to its efforts, the Trump Education Department uncovered $6.5 billion in previously unreported foreign gifts, grants, and contracts involving some of our country’s most prestigious universities. But since Mr. Biden took office, the number of reported foreign gifts has plummeted, and this math just doesn’t add up. That should concern us all as Americans.”
Congress must act to uncover and stop the Chinese Communist penetration of American higher education — and its role in the growing anti-American attitudes of many of our most important institutions of learning. The American people deserve to know.
• For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com.