New America Foundation Fellow Jennifer Washburn is the author of University, Inc: The Corporate Corruption of American Higher Education
Big Oil buys Berkeley
Jennifer Washburn, March 24, 2007 (LA Times)
BP, (British Petroleum), UC Berkeley, in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC administrators and BP executives
A $500 million, 10 year grant from BP to fund a new multidisciplinary Energy Biosciences Institute, principally for biofuels research.
“This is shameful. The core mission of Berkeley is education, open knowledge exchange and objective research, not making money or furthering the interests of a private firm.”
Announced February 1, 2007.
- Cal and other universities are increasingly desperate for research dollars. Cal and the University of Illinois and took the BP money even though it means allowing 50 BP scientists to work with academic scientists on their campuses in private labs where all the research would be proprietary and confidential. BP will influence the selection of the director and other high-level positions and, therefore, have leverage over research agendas and funding allocations to 25 labs across many departments. Unlike other university researchers, the 50 BP scientists will have no obligation to publish their work. The universities must share intellectual property rights and commercial licenses with BP. All this raises questions of intellectual integrity.
- “Californians need to know that their public university is dedicated to pursuing the best science, not just science that generates profits for BP.”
- Robert Reich, former secretary of labor and now a professor of public policy at Berkeley, has warned that — because of its size and commercial scope — the BP alliance could be either "a huge feather in Berkeley's cap or a huge noose around Berkeley's neck."
- UC President Robert Dynes: "It is my belief," he said, "that we are reinventing the research university in this public-private partnership."
Washburn: “Five hundred million dollars is a nice chunk of change, but does any amount of money justify "reinventing" UC Berkeley's academic integrity?”