Campus Reform | George Soros gives $500 million to tiny college

George Soros gives $500 million to tiny college

The billionaire's donation amounts to more than a quarter million dollars per undergraduate student currently enrolled at the school.

One professor has expressed doubt that Soros’ lavish financial support of the school will allow it to retain educational independence.

Billionaire philanthropist and left-wing megadonor George Soros is donating $500 million to Bard College a small liberal arts college in New York. 

According to a Bard College press release, the grant — “which is among the largest ever made to higher education in the United States” — will facilitate “Bard’s exemplary educational and social initiatives, establish the College’s most substantial endowment ever, and set the stage for a $1 billion endowment drive.” The college announced that it raised $250 million for its endowment and is seeking to raise another $250 million going forward. 

Bard College President Leon Botstein stated that the gift marks the “most historic moment since the college’s founding in 1860.” Based on Bard's published number of 1,900 undergraduates, Soros' donation amounts to $263,157 per current undergraduate student.

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Botstein said, “Bard has played an innovative and progressive role in American education without any historical wealth; it will continue to do so with this new and highly competitive endowment, to ensure equity in financial aid, reform the relationship between higher education and secondary education, promote international education, and defend the arts, the humanities and basic science as the essence of the liberal arts.” 

The funding comes as part of Soros’ Open Society University Network — a group that donates to universities around the world. Soros has donated a considerable share of his wealth to Democratic politicians and left-wing causes.

Affiliates of the school — including Bard history professor Gennady Shkliarevsky — have formerly criticized the school's leadership for its tight financial relationship with Soros.

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Shkliarevsky argued that Botstein has led the school in constructing new amenities and expanding programs across the world — unsustainable efforts under the school’s $300 million endowment. He suspects that donations from Soros will prevent Bard from being an “equal partner” with the Open Society Foundation. 

Therefore, “If OSUN succeeds in using Bard as a vehicle to achieve the vision laid out in Soros’ speech and currently implemented by OSF, the school’s principal mission could become political rather than educational.”

Campus Reform contacted Bard College and the Open Society Foundation for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft