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More Frackademics in the News

More and more stories are coming out in the media about the cozy relationship the natural gas industry has developed with academics. Click here to read a story in Wired. Click here to read one in Mother Jones.

Both mention the recent UB shale shenanigans unfavorably. It’s hard to imagine how the UB Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), in its relatively short existence, could have done more to downgrade the reputation of the State University of New York at Buffalo. You can’t buy this kind of negative press. You really have to earn it.

To their chagrin, the UB press department can count on more stories like these.

Meanwhile, UB officials maintain that the gas industry didn’t give them a penny to form the institute nor to produce its flawed first report. They say the funds came from the Geology department. And the Geology department got that money from (one of) the UB Foundation(s).

Why would the University at Buffalo Foundation, whose mission is “to support and promote the activities and programs of the University at Buffalo,” want to continue funding an institute that continues to bring such shame to the school?

Unless…no, perish the thought…unless…the gas industry donated to one of the UB Foundations!

But it would be crazy to make a claim like that, because there is no way to compel the release of documents that could prove such a transaction took place. We lost a lawsuit trying to force such disclosure.

So, I guess we’ll never know. Better to assume the gas industry did not donate to anybody, and that the UB Foundation(s) simply poured money into an embarrassing endeavor that’s proving detrimental to the school—and they did so absolutely selflessly, without any hope of remuneration.

What great, great champions of education these foundations truly are.

Oh, yeah. The most recent 990 tax forms just now available from these organizations cover the period from 7/1/2010 through 6/30/2011.

Guess what former university president John Simpson raked in during that period, from these groups? $706,787. Keep in mind, he announced his resignation on August 30, 2010 (the first day of classes)—with ten months left in this tax period. He also got $262,921 from the state of New York in 2011, with his final job title “assistant to the president.”

The man made off with nearly one million dollars after quitting, with 3/4 of that coming from the foundation(s).

Who knew?