breaking news

Austin schools president Pace to resign from board, effective immediately

UT rejects funding from group with Chinese Communist ties


The University of Texas has decided to forgo funding for its new China Policy Center from a foundation with ties to the branch of the Chinese Communist Party that manages influence operations abroad.

The decision by UT President Gregory L. Fenves followed an internal university review and a plea from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who warned that accepting money from the China-United States Exchange Foundation could facilitate China’s propaganda efforts and impair the university’s credibility.

The developments were first reported in an opinion article in The Washington Post.

The China Policy Center, part of UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, opened in August, and Fenves’ decision to reject funding from CUSEF is something of a rebuke to the center’s executive director, David Firestein, and LBJ Dean Angela Evans.

Firestein did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, and Evans referred questions to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, who provided a copy of a letter Fenves sent to Cruz on Friday.

In the letter, Fenves said he began reviewing concerns after the center and the LBJ School approached him about potential funding from CUSEF. Several university professors and leaders had raised concerns about ties among Hong Kong-based CUSEF, its leader Tung Chee Hwa and the Communist Party.

The UT president told Cruz that he spoke not only with faculty experts on U.S.-China relations but also with U.S. intelligence officials. Those officials included some at the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI.

Fenves said he had already decided that UT would not accept “programmatic funding” from CUSEF and was now also ruling out “any fundfs for travel, student exchanges or other initiatives from the organization.

“External support is vital to the work of faculty members and researchers, furthers our mission as a flagship university and underwrites studies that can advance our knowledge and understanding of the world,” Fenves wrote. “We must, however, also ensure that the receipt of outside funding does not create potential conflicts of interest or place limits on academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas. I am concerned about this if we were to accept funding from CUSEF.”

Fenves said the university would seek other domestic and international sources of support for the China center.

“The China Policy Center is up and running and has the backing of the university,” Susswein told the Statesman. “Broadly, this is something we’re heavily committed to and invested in.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Court orders man to pay $2M in child support in 'bizarre' case involving identity theft
Court orders man to pay $2M in child support in 'bizarre' case involving identity theft

An Indiana judge awarded nearly $2 million in back child support to a woman whose husband -- who disappeared in 1993 and was thought to be dead -- was arrested in Florida two years ago on an identity theft charge, the Journal Gazette reported. Hamilton County Superior Court Magistrate William Greenway and Judge Jonathan M. Brown said Richard J...
BREAKING: Austin schools president Pace to resign from board, effective immediately
BREAKING: Austin schools president Pace to resign from board, effective immediately

11:35 a.m. update: Austin school board President Kendall Pace, who came under fire last week over inflammatory language she used in texts with another board member, said she will resign from the board entirely, effective immediately. Pace apologized for her use of the phrases “crazy ignorant community activists and poverty pimps” in texts...
Houston woman dead, 2 injured after Sunday crash near Luling, DPS says
Houston woman dead, 2 injured after Sunday crash near Luling, DPS says

A 73-year-old Houston woman died at a Kyle hospital Sunday after a crash involving two vehicles on Texas 80 in South Texas, safety officials said. Maria De Jesus Mendoza died at Seton Medical Center Hays, where she was taken after her 2014 Ford Fusion was hit by an oncoming 2015 Mazda CX5, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said. ...
Alabama man wants to cut lawns in all 50 states
Alabama man wants to cut lawns in all 50 states

Cutting lawns during the summer can be a chore, especially when temperatures and humidity rise. But an Alabama man not only enjoys cutting grass, he also wants to mow in all 50 states. “I’m on a journey called ‘50 States, 50 Lawns,’” Rodney Smith told WHAS. “(I’ll be) mowing a lawn in each state for someone...
DPS names 7 accused of license plate fraud at Travis County tax office
DPS names 7 accused of license plate fraud at Travis County tax office

10:30 a.m. update: The Texas Department of Public Safety identified several suspects in connection with a fraud investigation at the Travis County tax assessor collector offices. The investigation, which began in March, looked at tax office employees and others who may have been involved in fraud related to the issuance of license plates, DPS officials...
More Stories