Disturbing Trend Must be Stopped To Preserve Academic Integrity At U.S. Colleges, Consumer Advocates Warn
Santa Monica, CA — ConocoPhillips, with a $6 million gift to the University of Oklahoma’s School of Geology and Geophysics, is the latest oil giant seeking to buy respectability by capitalizing on the name of a well-known university, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.
“Big Oil, an industry that has made billions at the expense of the environment, is trying to clean up its deservedly dirty image by associating with well-known universities,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with FTCR. “Independent academic activities are too important to let them be sold to Big Oil companies that want to greenwash their image.”
In return for the $6 million in oil money, University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren said he would recommend to the board of regents that the school be renamed the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics. The university said the money would be used to fund scholarships and “to endow a visiting faculty position, allowing the school to recruit individuals from the energy industry or other institutions to spend a semester or a year and to help OU stay current with the latest innovations in petroleum geology, geology and geophysics.”
“For a paltry $6 million, Conoco gets naming rights to the school and an industry friendly professor to spout their warped view of the world in an academic environment. We call on the regents to reject this deal,” said Simpson.
Stanford University‘s Global Climate and Energy Program receives $100 million from ExxonMobil. The oil giant has recently launched an advertising campaign touting its involvement with the university. Movie producer Steve Bing, a Stanford alumnus, protested by canceling $2.5 million of his $25 million pledge to the school.
Meanwhile, UC Berkeley is negotiating a $500 million deal with BP to create the Energy Biosciences Institute on campus. Many people both on and off campus have urged university officials and the regents to ensure that BP cannot inappropriately use the school’s image in its advertising and the university maintain control of the results of the discoveries made at the institute.
“Big Oil has an image problem,” said Simpson. “We simply cannot allow them to fix it by turning our respected colleges and universities into ‘Big Oil U‘.”
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The nonpartisan, nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a leading consumer watchdog group. For more information, visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org